The Sheriff Who Shot Henry: "I Don't Independently Recall" / by Charisse Domingo

Deputy Vandergraff took the stand today. He is wearing a suit, and not a Sheriff's uniform. This is the Officer that shot Henry Sires, 6 times. One which hit him. 

In 2015, he was assigned to patrol the East Foothills of San Jose, an area of the city that makes you appreciate how beautiful this city can be, how clean air is just some miles up.  Now, Deputy Vandergraff's job is a Detective for Santa Clara County for the Jail Crimes Unit. 

When he is being questioned by the District Attorney, his answers are clear. Ready. To the point. When the defense asks him questions, he's confused. He's evasive. He refers to reports like it's a person quoting his own self. Either way, he's full of contradictions -- of his own story and of the previous witnesses' story of what happened that day.  

He says when he came up to the scene, it was Officer Randall who first started yelling, making the scene 'unusual'. However, Officer Randall said he yelled because Deputy Vandergraff was shooting. Within moments of getting to the scene, Vandergraff already had drawn his firearm.  

Then he said he saw Henry's car moving. But he didn't see anyone in the vehicle.  He said it was moving in his direction. He said that's why he fired -- because he believed it was going to hit him.  He said he fired 4 times, even though during opening, there was a sketch of Henry's car showing 6 shots fired, and the dispatch call that was played said 12 shots fired.  

He then checked if anyone or himself was hurt. He checked if he was shot. He just wanted to make himself feel ok. At a previous hearing, he said he was so out of his senses he thought the car shot at him. 

As his testimony drags on for a day and a half, he's starting to rely on a few key phrases to get him through Avi's questions.

  • "All I know is that the vehicle was coming at me."
  • "I don't independently recall."

At one point, he even said, "I'm drawing a blank." And to explain why he said one thing to investigators during the night of the incident versus today at court, he said that he just wasn't 100% right and what he had said in the interview transcripts may not be accurate. 

What's clear though are the contradictions between these two officers of what happened that morning, his contradictions with his own story, and how evasive he's being.