By Elizabeth Llorente
Published September 20, 2019
The 26-year-old, who graduated from the police academy in December, wanted not only to respond to the matter at hand but also to go the extra step, working to lessen the likelihood violence in the home recurred, said a fellow officer, who also described himself as a close friend of O'Sullivan's.
“Tara was meticulous when it came to domestic violence calls of service,” Officer Joshua Heredia said. “And she sought to resolve all domestic violence calls she went on to prevent any more unnecessary domestic violence to take place in the future.”
But while she relentlessly worked to prevent domestic abuse, it was during one such call on June 19 that O'Sullivan became a victim of a domestic dispute.
O’Sullivan, who was one of several officers at the scene, stood in the yard to help the woman who was being threatened leave the home. Adel Sambrano Ramos, who was inside the home, shot O’Sullivan with a rifle and fired at the other officers, who had to take cover and could not get to their wounded colleague. O’Sullivan lay injured on the ground for more than 30 minutes until police arrived in an armored car and were able to remove her. She died at the hospital.
“Evil showed its face in our city,” said Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn at her memorial service. “Tara and her partners responded. They responded to somebody in need, regardless of the circumstances.”
O’Sullivan was the first Sacramento police officer killed in the line of duty in 20 years.
“Tara was passionate about listening to others,” Heredia said. “I do not believe there was a moment in Tara's life where she did not reach out to someone that looked like they needed help. Tara had a special skill in listening to people’s troubles, she did not just hear what was being said. Tara understood what was wrong and she always found a way to provide aid.”
O’Sullivan’s death mirrored the fatal shooting of another young California officer, Natalie Corona, who was 22 and also at the start of her career when she was ambushed in January.
The similarities touched Corona’s father, Jose Merced Corona, a retired sheriff’s deputy who felt compelled to go to O’Sullivan’s funeral.
“I spoke to Tara’s parents, and we embraced,” Corona said. “There were so many similarities between them – lightning struck twice in our area. They were two beautiful, athletic, dedicated officers taken out in that fashion.”
Many events paying tribute to O’Sullivan have been held since her death – and many include workouts. One event had participants do 26 burpees – for her age—and a host of other exercises.
“She was by far the most driven person when it came to lifetime fitness,” Heredia said. “She was constantly surpassing her limits and I was always amazed with how hard she pushed herself. I was always caught off guard when we did performance tests and she would set a new personal record for herself in timed exercises, for her to only beat those new personal records in the next 30 days.”