Former officer pleads not guilty following standoff

Chunliam Saechao, the retired Pittsburg police officer accused of shooting his wife and holding Pleasant Hill police at bay for three days, entered not guilty pleas in court Thursday. The former officer's attorneys say he suffers from PTSD.

Those attorneys say the stresses of his job led to his retirement, and that after he left the department he got little to no support before he shot his wife and barricaded himself inside his home.

Saechao entered not-guilty pleas in court to multiple felonies including attempted murder of peace officers, assault on a peace officer with a firearm and injuring his spouse. The defendant spoke only briefly to waive his rights to a speedy trial.

In early December, prosecutors say Saechao locked himself inside his Pleasant Hill home, firing at least one shot through a door, striking his wife, who received a relatively minor injury. That kicked off a tense three-day standoff, with Saechao firing from inside the house at officers, who backed away from the home.

In the end, officers eventually took him into custody without further injuries.

After entering his not-guilty pleas, his attorneys highlighted the support for the former officer.

"I'd just like to take a moment for the court to recognize all of Mr. Saechao's supporters in the audience today. It's a lot of friends and family that showed up today, they showed up last court date as well all here to show their love and support for Mr. Saechao," they said.


Retired officer accused of shooting wife, standoff, appears in court

Retired Pittsburg police officer Chunilam Saechao, accused of shooting his wife and charged with attempted murder, had his first court appearance on Thursday. His court appearance was a week after the shooting led to a days-long stand-off with Pleasant Hill SWAT Police.

Outside the courtroom, the defendant's mother thanked the responding officers for working to reach a peaceful end to the standoff. 

"You are doing what my son was doing before his retirement," said Muey Haw Sae Lee. "Protecting good people every day."

Saechao's attorneys say the former officer suffered from years of post-traumatic stress from his job with Pittsburg police and that when he retired for mental health reasons, he received little to no support from his former employer. 

"We want cities to change the way they handle people who retire from first responder positions for mental health reasons," said defense attorney Curtis Briggs. "These people served the community, they protected us, we need to protect them in return."

Saechao is due back in court next week when the district attorney is expected to push for a protective order preventing him from contacting his wife.

His attorneys say they will fight that order, saying since the standoff Saechao and his wife had peaceful contact, and that he needs all the support he can get.