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Citrus Heights man, 27, sentenced for attempted murder of officer

Rafael Vital. Image courtesy, PCDA

By Mike Hazlip—
A Citrus Heights man was sentenced on Wednesday to life in prison for the attempted murder of a police officer.

In a Feb. 15 press release, the Placer County District Attorney’s Office said 27-year-old Rafael Vital was sentenced to 30 years to life for attempted murder on a police officer, evading a police officer, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, and other related charges.

The sentencing stemmed from an April 20, 2021, incident where a Roseville police officer attempted to conduct a traffic stop on Vital, with the man then fleeing the scene onto Interstate 80. Vital then stopped on the freeway and fired shots at the officer as the officer approached Vital’s vehicle.

The officer did not return fire, due to “the danger posed to passing vehicles on the freeway,” according to the release.

Vital fled again and eventually lost control of his vehicle, crashing into a retaining wall. He was arrested after a search that closed the interstate until he was apprehended.

“This case is a reminder of the dangers our officers face as they put their lives on the line every day to keep our community safe,” said Placer County District Attorney Morgan Gire. “We are grateful the officer was unharmed and commend the judge and jury for ensuring the defendant was held accountable.”

Vital has a long history of criminal activity involving firearms, the district attorney said in the release. Vital was sentenced by Judge Garen J. Horst, following a jury trial last month.

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