Crime

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Journal News Editor Wins Freedom of Information Award

Posted By on Sat, Feb 11, 2017 at 10:51 AM

THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson

The Society of Professional Journalists Northern California officially announced yesterday that Thadeus Greenson, the Journal's news editor, won a James Madison Freedom of Information Award. It's an award Caroline Titus of the Ferndale Enterprise took home in 2016, and the Journal's then staff writer and editor Hank Sims and Emily Gurnon won in 2005.

Greenson is being recognized for his "years long battle with the city of Eureka over the release of police camera footage of an arrest." (That arrest by then Eureka Police Sgt. Adam Laird and the departmental drama that followed it are, coincidentally, the subject of next week's cover story on stands Wednesday.) The end result of Greenson and the Journal's pursuit of the video, in Humboldt County Superior Court and then in the California First District Court of Appeals, was a state precedent-setting opinion that kept the city — and any others in California — from treating police camera footage as confidential officer personnel records.

Particularly in our current climate, with heightened awareness of police misconduct and the potential abuses of power, that ruling in favor of transparency is a win for journalists throughout the state, the public and those police departments working toward trust in the communities they protect. We could not be more proud of Greenson's work on this story and in every issue of the Journal.


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Monday, January 23, 2017

Canine Cop Calls it a Career

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 1:16 PM

Sgt. Ron Sligh with Zari. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Sgt. Ron Sligh with Zari.
Zari, the Arcata Police patrol dog, has retired after eight and a half years of service.

During his career with APD, Zari, a German shepherd who joined the force in 2008, was present for more than 1,000 arrests and assisted in many high-risk situations. In 2013, he located a double murder suspect hiding in the bushes and, that same year, also helped search for homicide suspects in the Samoa Dunes and Petrolia.

The patrol dog was born in the Czech Republic and imported to the United States to train at a company called Witmer Tyson. Most of the company’s dogs are born and trained in Germany or the Czech Republic. Zari is retiring because of old age and APD said it is no longer practical for him to serve.

Matthew O’Donovan, an Arcata Police officer and handler for the retired patrol dog Baron, started a GoFund me page in order to fundraise for another canine. The fundraising goal is $15,000, which will pay for the dog and its training, as well as supplies, including a knife and bullet proof vest.

“The K-9 unit plays a vital role in the department,” the charity page states.

Ginger Campbell, nicknamed by the Arcata Police department as the “fairy dog mother,” helped raise money for Zari, who cost about $20,000 to train and get prepared. In order to fundraise for the dog, Campbell reached out to local newspapers and asked the community for help.

“When I said I would fundraise for another dog,” Campbell said, “I just figured it would be $4,000 or $5,000 but when It was about $20,000, I had to do a lot more.”

When she had close to enough money to afford the dog, APD scrounged up enough money to fill the void.

According to an APD press release, Zari took part in many canine demonstrations at schools and community groups. Campbell thinks this is important because the dog helped bridge gaps between law enforcement and local youth.

Campbell didn’t just raise money to get the dogs, she also had to raise money to pay for bullet and knife proof vests. She said these are important because the dogs will go to any means to protect their police officer.

“Their main job is to protect the police officer,” Campbell said. “They will die for their police officer.”

Zari will live out his retirement in the care of his handler, APD. Sgt. Ron Sligh, and his family.

Arcata Police Service Canine, “Zari” is retiring after eight and a half years of dedicated service to the community. Zari, the K9 partner of Sergeant Ron Sligh, is retiring due to normal age related ailments that make it no longer practical for him to serve. Zari began his service to the City of Arcata in June of 2008 and his official last day was January 13th, 2017. Zari is a sable colored German Shepherd that was born on March 23rd, 2007 in the Czech Republic. He was imported to the United States by the Witmer-Tyson Kennels of Menlo Park, California in June 2008.
Sgt Sligh and Zari attended the basic patrol handler’s course in Newark, California, which culminated in the Police Officers Standard’s in Training (POST) certification. Since attending the basic handlers course, Sgt Sligh and Zari have attended thousands of hours of maintenance training and certified annually to POST Standards.
During Zari’s career he has responded to numerous high risk incidents in the City of Arcata and all over Humboldt County. As part of mutual aid requests from almost all law enforcement agencies in the county, Zari has been a regional asset.  Some of the more notable incidents that Zari has been involved in are; in 2009 he assisted in the apprehension of a home invasion robbery suspect that attempted to flee the scene. Also in 2009, Zari came to the aid of Sgt Sligh in arresting a suspect that was violently resisting arrest and who had assaulted Sgt Sligh. Again in 2009, Sgt Sligh and Zari responded to assist the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team in searching a vehicle that had crashed during a high speed pursuit, near Willow Creek. The suspects in the vehicle had committed an armed robbery and had been shooting at pursuing officers during the pursuit.
In 2013, Zari located a double homicide suspect who was hiding in the bushes. Zari and Sgt Sligh assisted the Humboldt County Sheriff’s SWAT Team in the apprehension of two homicide suspects in the Samoa Dunes. Zari was part of the muti-agency response to search for a homicide suspect in Petrolia. Zari assisted in the apprehension of another homicide suspect. Zari was called in by Humboldt County District Attorney Investigators to search a residence where a vehicular manslaughter suspect was hiding. Zari located the suspect hiding under a bed.
Zari was present on over a thousand arrests during his career. On the vast majority of those arrests the suspects were taken into custody without resisting or attempting to flee. Within in the last month, Sgt Sligh and Zari were able to arrest a felony warrant suspect, who has a history of fleeing, without incident.
Zari and Sgt Sligh conducted many K9 demonstrations over the years for schools and community groups.  Zari has enjoyed interacting with the department’s staff and made a special friendship with Police Services Assistant Bev Bence in the department’s front office.
Zari will be able to enjoy his retirement in the care of the Sligh Family.

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Is This Criminal Assault?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2016 at 4:40 PM


It’s been almost four years since the Eureka Police Department and the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office held a rare joint press conference on April 17, 2013 to announce they’d arrest an EPD sergeant on suspicion of assaulting a 14-year-old during an arrest.

Four months earlier, shortly before midnight on Dec. 6, 2012, EPD received a report of a gang fight near Twenty-Thirty Park on Summer Street. The first officer on scene reported no fight but saw a male and a female walking, and noted the male — later identified as a 5-foot-6-inch, 130-pound 14-year-old — was carrying a golf club.

The boy — who later told police he had been drunk at the time, having drank two Four Lokos (a caffeinated malt liquor beverage) — fled when he saw the officer and a foot pursuit ensued. At some point, former EPD Sgt. Adam Laird joined the fray as backup as the kid fled through a backyard and ultimately wound up on California Street. There, the juvenile abruptly stopped running — later telling investigators he didn’t want police to shoot him — and gave up. He was then pushed to the ground by officers.


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Mills: Suspect Pointed Gun at Officer Before Being Shot

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2016 at 2:55 PM

The bullet-riddled Mazda 3 Clayton Lasinski allegedly stole from Sole Savers. - EPD
  • EPD
  • The bullet-riddled Mazda 3 Clayton Lasinski allegedly stole from Sole Savers.

The 26-year-old Garberville man wounded in a Dec. 6 officer-involved shooting pointed his handgun at an officer before police opened fire, Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills said at a press conference today.

Mills spent about 35 minutes walking media through the traffic stop, foot pursuit and ensuing shooting that transpired over 12 tense minutes shortly before 5 p.m. on Dec. 6 and ended when the wounded suspect, Clayton Lee Lasinski, collapsed to the ground on Fifth Street.

During the pursuit, Mills said officers fired a total of 42 rounds — not 44 as sources previously told the Journal — one of which struck Lasinski in the chest and 25 of which struck the Mazda 3 he was allegedly attempting to flee the scene in. Mills said investigators have determined that 14 bullets hit other objects — walls, vehicles and a fence — and that three remain unaccounted for.

Mills said three of the officers involved — officers Steven Linfoot and Dustin Nantz, and senior detective Ron Harpham — have been psychologically evaluated and cleared to return to duty, with Harpham already back in the field and the other two returning to active duty tomorrow. The fourth officer who fired his weapon during the incident — Abraham Jansen — is away on a previously scheduled vacation and has yet to undergo the psych evaluation, Mills said, offering no timetable for the officer’s return to the field.


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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Communication Failure Leaves School in Lurch Following Shooting

Posted By on Tue, Dec 20, 2016 at 3:46 PM

cover-badge_.jpg
A shooting in Southern Humboldt last week has left a school district and the sheriff’s office both looking for better lines of communication.

The shooting occurred in Redway shortly before 2 p.m. on Dec. 13, and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office was called to the scene to a report of a gunshot victim lying along Whitmore Avenue (the victim survived). By the time they arrived, the suspects had fled the scene in a gray pickup truck. A search of the area came up empty.

The problem is that Redway Elementary School, just a few blocks away, didn’t receive word of the shooting until students were boarding school buses to head home and alarmed parents were calling the office. The apparent lack of communication was a concern for district parents, some of whom called the school in the ensuing hours to criticize administrators for not putting the campus on lockdown or doing more to protect children.

The issue bubbled up so quickly that Southern Humboldt Unified School District Superintendent Catherine Scott penned a letter the following day to all district parents and guardians, offering a timeline detailing the afternoon from the school’s perspective. The timeline notes that school officials were never contacted by the Sheriff’s Office, despite trying diligently to get more information after learning of the shooting nearby. It would be more than an hour — filled with decisions about whether to allow students to walk home, whether to cancel basketball practice, whether to lockdown the afterschool program and whether to allow junior high and high school students to unload from their buses in Redway — before a district official finally got someone from the Sheriff’s Office on the phone.

Reached a few days after the incident, Scott said she was working on setting up a meeting with the sheriff or the undersheriff to discuss the district’s frustrations. She said the incident is an example of a larger problem but underscores the need for better communication.

“It’s really just a symptom of the inadequate services the sheriff is able to offer Southern Humboldt and that’s an ongoing issue,” she said. “I have a great deal of respect and admiration for law enforcement and I’m not trying to criticize them, but I have a responsibility to make sure my schools are safe. So if we need to improve communication, we need to improve communication.”

Scott made clear she wants to hear about any violent incident near one of her campuses that could pose a threat to student safety, and quickly. “I would rather be safe than sorry. Always,” she said.

Reached on Monday, Sheriff Mike Downey agreed that communication could have and should have been better. But Downey said dispatchers did try to call the school office numerous times within 20 or so minutes of the shooting, but repeatedly got a busy signal. Further, he said the fact that deputies were confident the suspects had fled the area in a vehicle meant a more robust school response wasn’t necessary.

“If we feel someone’s in danger, or a school district especially, we’ll go in there and tell them they need to lock down,” he said. “But in this case, based on the information we had, there was no danger to the school at that point.”

Moving forward, Downey said his department we’ll look at putting together a master list of points of contact for each school in Humboldt County so if a critical incident occurs nearby, dispatchers aren’t forced to simply call a school’s main office, which are often understaffed and receive high call volumes at certain times of the day.

See the full text of Scott’s letter by clicking here.
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Monday, December 19, 2016

UPDATED: Five Arrests in Manila Homicide

Posted By on Mon, Dec 19, 2016 at 2:34 PM

Claros - FACEBOOK
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  • Claros
4th UPDATE:

The last two suspects in the shooting death of Tyson Claros, 20, turned themselves in to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday evening.

According to a news release from the sheriff’s office, Hector Godoy-Standley and Catherine Fode are each being held on $1 million bail. Three other suspects were previously arrested in the case.

Claros was shot in Manila on Dec. 12 along Highway 255 between the south end of Peninsula Drive and Pacific Avenue. The investigation is ongoing, according to the sheriff's office.

Read the full Humboldt County Sheriff's Office release below:
On Sunday, December 18, 2016 at approximately 9:40 p.m. Hector Godoy-Standley and Catherine Fode, who are both wanted for last week’s murder of Tyson Claros, turned themselves in to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. Both Godoy-Standley and Fode were arrested without incident, and were booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for the charge of PC 187/homicide. Their bail was set at $1,000,000 each.
The investigation of Tyson Claros’ murder is still currently ongoing. If anyone has information in regards to this homicide investigation, please contact Investigator Fulton at (707) 268-3646 or the non-emergency phone number for the Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251.

3rd UPDATE:

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in locating Hector Godoy-Standley, 21, and Catherine Suzanne Lynn Fode, 18, who are currently wanted in connection with the homicide in Manila earlier this week.
Arrest warrants have been issued for Godoy-Standley  and Fode, a Friday release from the sheriff’s office states.

Brandon James Mitchell, 22, a fifth suspect in the shooting death of Tyson Claros, 20, turned himself into law enforcement on Thursday after finding out he was wanted, according to the sheriff’s office.

Two other suspects, Cesar Octavio Valenzuela-Campos and Tamara Nicole Thomson, were arrested Dec. 12.

Read the full Humboldt County Sheriff's Office release below:
Fode - HUMBOLDT COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Humboldt County Sheriff's Office
  • Fode
Godoy-Standley - HUMBOLDT COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Humboldt County Sheriff's Office
  • Godoy-Standley



On December 12th, 20 year old Tyson Claros was murdered in
the Manila area. Through the course of the investigation, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Investigators determined there were five suspects involved in the murder of Tyson Claros. Three of the five suspects have been arrested. Two suspects, Cesar OctavioValenzuela-Campos and Tamara Nicole Thomson, were arrested the day of the homicide. The third suspect, 22 year old Brandon James Mitchell turned himself in to Investigators on Thursday, December 15th after learning he was wanted by law enforcement.
21 year old Hector Godoy-Standley and 18 year old Catherine Suzanne Lynn Fode are currently still wanted for the murder of Claros and warrants have been issued for their arrest. The Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s assistance in locating Godoy-Standley and Fode.
The investigation is currently ongoing. If anyone has information in regards to this homicide investigation, please contact Investigator Fulton at (707) 268-3646 or the non-emergency phone number for the Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251.
Mitchell - HUMBOLDT COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Humboldt County Sheriff's Office
  • Mitchell




2nd UPDATE:
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has arrested two suspects, 23-year old Cesar Octavio Valenzuela-C ampos and 18-year old Tamara Nicole Thomsen, in relation to the homicide of Tyson Claros. Both are being held at the Humboldt County Correctional Facility, with bail set at $1 million each.





From the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:


On Monday, December 12, 2016 at approximately 9:30 p.m. Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputies detained 23 year old Cesar Octavio Valenzuela-Campos at the Shell Station on Myrtle Ave at McFarlan St. in Eureka. Valenzuela-Campos was interviewed by Investigators and subsequently arrested for yesterday’s murder of 20 year old Tyson Claros. Valenzuela-Campos was booked at the Humboldt County Correctional Facility (HCCF) for murder and his bail was set at $1,000,000.

A short while later 18 year old Tamara Nicole Thomson was arrested at a residence in Eureka. The Humboldt County SWAT team assisted in the apprehension of Thomson. Thomson was booked at the HCCF for murder and an outstanding juvenile warrant. Her bail was set at $1,000,000.
Thomsen - HCSO
  • HCSO
  • Thomsen

UPDATE: The HCSO has identified the victim as Tyson Claros. He was found on Hwy 255 between the south end of Peninsula Dr and Pacific Ave in Manila.

Previously:

The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office is seeking information about a 20-year old man who died this morning after being found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

The HCSO was originally called to the Manila area for reports of a possible armed robbery. The name of the victim, who was pronounced deceased at the hospital, has not yet been released.

The sheriff's office declined to release additional information — including the exact location where deputies found the victim and the circumstances surrounding the armed robbery report — at this time.

This is the 21st confirmed homicide in Humboldt County so far this year.

From the Humboldt County
Valenzuela-Campos - HCSO
  • HCSO
  • Valenzuela-Campos
Sheriff's Office:

On Monday, December 12, 2016 at approximately 2:15 a.m. Humboldt County Deputy Sheriffs responded to the Manila area for a report of a possible armed robbery. Deputies located a 20 year old male victim in the roadway of Hwy 255, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. The victim was transported to a local hospital by medical personnel where he was pronounced deceased.

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputies and Detectives are currently investigating the incident as a homicide. The investigation is currently ongoing.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call Investigator Fulton at 707-268-3646 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Teen Pedestrian Killed in Alleged DUI Crash

Posted By on Thu, Dec 15, 2016 at 9:39 AM

chp-patch.gif
A teenage pedestrian was killed last night in McKinleyville when an allegedly drunk driver hit her shortly after 8 p.m.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the girl was was northbound on the east shoulder of Central Avenue, north of Anna Sparks Way, when James Arthur Merrick, of McKinleyville, allowed his 2000 Dodge Ram 1500 to drift off the roadway and onto the shoulder after turning onto Central Avenue. Merrick's vehicle struck her and continued eastbound on the shoulder until it ran into a light pole, after which Merrick allegedly attempted to flee the scene before being detained by several witnesses.

The pedestrian was transported to Mad River Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Merrick was arrested at the scene and alcohol is believed to have been a factor in the collision, according to CHP.

See the full CHP press release copied below:


Fatality Collision on Central Avenue

McKinleyville, California- On the evening of Wednesday, December 14th, one female teenage pedestrian sustained fatal injuries after being struck by a passing vehicle.

At approximately 8:07 p.m., James Arthur Merrick , of McKinleyville, was turning his 2000 Dodge Ram 1500 from eastbound Anna Sparks Way onto northbound Central Avenue. The juvenile pedestrian was walking northbound on the east shoulder of Central Avenue, north of Anna Sparks Way. For reasons still under investigation Mr. Merrick allowed his vehicle to drive off the roadway and onto the east shoulder of Central Avenue striking the juvenile pedestrian. The vehicle continued eastbound on the shoulder until it collided into a light pole. Merrick attempted to flee the scene of the collision but was detained by several witnesses until Law Enforcement arrived on scene. The juvenile pedestrian was transported to Mad River Community Hospital where she later succumbed to her injuries.

Merrick was placed under arrest and alcohol is believed to be a contributing factor in this traffic collision. The California Highway Patrol-Humboldt Area responded to the scene and is conducting the investigation.


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Monday, December 12, 2016

EPD Identifies Officers Involved in Downtown Shooting

Posted By on Mon, Dec 12, 2016 at 4:54 PM

Officers secured the scene before clearing medical personnel to respond to help Clayton Lee Lasinski, who was shot by police after allegedly brandishing a firearm at officers. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Officers secured the scene before clearing medical personnel to respond to help Clayton Lee Lasinski, who was shot by police after allegedly brandishing a firearm at officers.
The Eureka Police Department has identified the four officers who combined to fire more than 40 bullets during a Dec. 6 pursuit through Eureka that left a 26-year-old suspect with a non-fatal gunshot wound to the chest.

The suspect, Clayton Lee Lasinski, was armed with a .45 caliber handgun during the pursuit, but appears not to have fired it, according to Police Chief Andrew Mills. The officers who fired their weapons during the pursuit are Ron Harpham, a 25-year veteran of the force, Abraham Johnson and Steven Linfoot, both hired in 2013, and Dustin Nantz, hired in 2014.

Several sources not authorized to speak publicly about the multi-agency investigation into the officer involved shooting told the Journal that the preliminary investigation indicates officers fired a total of 44 rounds during the pursuit. Mills said he couldn't confirm that, but said officers did fire "more than 40" shots during the incident.

Linfoot is the same officer involved in EPD’s last shooting of a suspect, when he was the only officer to open fire in the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Thomas “Tommy McClain” in September of 2014. Last month, a federal jury found Linfoot and McClain were both negligent in the incident, awarding McClain’s family $150,000 from the city of Eureka. The Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office found Linfoot did not act criminally in the shooting, and a review by the EPD found he did not violate departmental policies and acted in self-defense when he opened fire.

The current shooting remains under investigation by the Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team. For more information, see past coverage here and check out this week’s Journal, which hits news stands Wednesday.

See the full EPD press release copied below:

On December 6, 2016 at 1650 hours, officers of the Eureka Police Department responded to an emergency assist call from a California Highway Patrol officer for a fleeing suspect. The CHP officer said the fleeing man was armed with a weapon. Additional citizens reported the suspect’s direction and the fact that he was armed with a gun. EPD officers soon located Clayton Lee Lasinski (09/11/1990) and ultimately fired numerous rounds at him. Lasinski was struck once and taken into custody. Lasinski was taken to Saint Joseph Hospital by medics where he was treated, and he is expected to survive his injury.

The officer’s names were not released until now due to an on-line threat concerning the shooting. The officers who fired rounds are:

Ron Harpham                  May 28, 1991
Abraham Jansen             November 1, 2013
Steven Linfoot                 August 1, 2013
Dustin Nantz                    February 1, 2014

Each of the officers involved in this incident have been placed on administrative duties until cleared duty.


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Victim ID'd: EPD Investigating 'Suspicious Death'

Posted By on Mon, Dec 12, 2016 at 3:37 PM

Jennika Suazo - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Jennika Suazo
2nd UPDATE: The deceased has been identified as Jennika Lee Suazo, a student at Zoe Barnum High School. Friends of Suazo have announced via her Facebook page that there will be a ceremony for her at the Adorni Center at 5 p.m. tomorrow. A quote on Suazo's Facebook page includes the words, "Relax, you'll graduate, you'll get a job, you'll become an adult, you'll find someone that loves you. You have an entire life. Things take time."

UPDATE: EPD Senior Detective John Gordon announced today that the department, along with the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office, are investigating some 22 people who lived in the residence on P Street. The deceased has been confirmed as a 18-year old female. She was found by her roommates and reported to EPD on Dec. 9 at around noon. Her identity has not yet been released.

Previously:

Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills said detectives have launched an investigation into a “suspicious death” in a residence on the 300 block of P Street.

Mills couldn’t provide much information on the case, but said EPD was notified by medics who had been called to the home. EPD currently has the residence taped off as detectives process the scene.

If the death is determined to be a homicide, it would be the county’s 22nd of the year, building on a 30-year high and further eclipsing the prior modern record of 16 in 2014.

Editor's note: The number of homicides referenced in this article was updated to reflect numbers that changed as of Dec. 12.
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Friday, December 9, 2016

EPD Chief: Officers Fired More Than 40 Shots in Tuesday's Pursuit

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 5:16 PM

Officers secured the scene before clearing medical personnel to respond to help Clayton Lee Lasinski, who was shot by police after allegedly brandishing a firearm at officers. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Officers secured the scene before clearing medical personnel to respond to help Clayton Lee Lasinski, who was shot by police after allegedly brandishing a firearm at officers.
Amid the chaotic foot pursuit in downtown Eureka Tuesday evening that ended with 26-year-old Clayton Lee Lasinski shot once in the chest, officers fired more than 40 shots, Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills confirmed to the Journal.

Lasinski remains hospitalized, but is expected to survive. No officers were injured in the incident, and Mills also confirmed this afternoon that he doesn’t believe Lasinski ever fired his .45 caliber pistol during the incident that took place shortly before 5 p.m.

“I do not believe he fired any rounds — I believe he didn’t know how to manipulate the gun,” Mills said, explaining that the gun taken from Lasinski at the end of the incident had a full clip, an empty chamber and its hammer cocked back, which Mills believes indicates Lasinski didn’t realize he had to pull a round into the gun’s chamber in order to fire and was “dry firing” the weapon at officers.

The incident began after a California Highway Patrol officer attempted to pull Lasinski’s Dodge pickup truck over after he allegedly rolled through a stop sign when turning westbound on Fourth Street in Eureka. Lasinski then allegedly pulled the truck into the parking lot of the Best Western, where he bailed on foot — leaving two female passengers in the car — and fled the scene.

The CHP officer asked EPD to assist in canvassing the area for Lasinski, saying he was possibly armed with an unknown weapon. A few moments later, the officer called dispatch to report that Lasinski was in possession of a handgun, according to a Best Western employee who said the suspect had pointed the gun at him while fleeing the property.

The red Mazda allegedly stolen from Sole Savers and abandoned about a block away. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • The red Mazda allegedly stolen from Sole Savers and abandoned about a block away.
An EPD officer finally spotted Lasinski near Seventh Street and pursued the suspect on foot. Lasinski allegedly ran into the parking lot of Sole Savers auto dealership, where he found a red Mazda 3 idling in a loading bay with its passenger door open. Lasinski got into the Mazda as the officer approached, according to a witness interviewed by the Journal, and the officer opened fire into the driver's side door area of the vehicle. A moment later, the witness said, the Mazda peeled out and fled the scene. On Wednesday, numerous bullet holes were visible in a white equipment shed in the loading bay behind where the Mazda had been idling the night before.

Additional shots were fired as the Mazda left the Sole Savers parking lot, according to the witness. The vehicle came to a stop a block away, in the intersection of Sixth and B streets, where additional shots were fired. Lasinski then fled down B Street toward Fifth Street, stopping at one point, according to a witness, to turn and point his pistol at pursuing officers, and drew more police fire. Ultimately, officers pursued Lasinski onto Fifth Street, where he stopped about halfway down the block between B and C streets, leaning against a black Volkswagen Jetta. Officers staged nearby with weapons drawn, but waited as Lasinski appeared to bleed out and collapse to the ground. At that point, they moved in, pulled a firearm from Lasinski’s hand and called for medical to come and assist him. According to witness accounts and video of the incident, officers did not attempt to provide first aid as they waited for paramedics staged nearby to move in and care for Lasinski.

Several sources not authorized to speak publicly about the multi-agency investigation into the officer involved shooting told the Journal that the preliminary investigation indicates officers fired a total of 44 rounds during the pursuit. Mills said he couldn’t confirm that number, but said he could confirm that “more than 40” shots were fired during the incident.

Meanwhile, the investigation is ongoing. Mills said the four officers who fired their weapons were scheduled to be interviewed this afternoon and will remain on administrative duty until cleared to return to the field. Their names have not yet been released to the public.

At a press conference Wednesday, Mills said he understands "that each officer is personally accountable for every round that they discharge and where that round ends up. And I will report back to the community once we've completed that investigation as to our actions last night."

Mills said today that investigators have been working hard to figure out where every round discharged by EPD officers was fired, as well as where they ended up. The investigation remains ongoing.

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