Monday, October 31, 2016

Sheriff's Office Investigating Death Near Homeless Camp

Posted By on Mon, Oct 31, 2016 at 4:08 PM

cover-badge_.jpg
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has launched a death investigation after finding a body down a cliff from a homeless camp near Garberville.

Deputies were called to the scene shortly after 7 a.m. on Sunday, and found the body across from the entrance to Camp Raven Cliff between Redwood Drive and the Eel River. According to a press release, the body looked as though it had been there for “several years.”

The case is being investigated by the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office. Officials ask that anyone with information about the case call 445-7251 or the Crime Tip Line at 268-2539.

See the full press release from the Sheriff’s Office copied below:

On Sunday, October 30, 2016 at about 7:14 a.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a report of human remains found across from the entrance to Camp Raven Cliff between Redwood Drive and the Eel River. It was reported the human remains were found below a large cliff with a homeless camp above it.
Deputies arrived on scene. The remains looked as though they had been in that area for several years. Deputies located a wallet that was near the remains. Investigators and Coroners arrived on scene to assist. The Coroner and Investigators collected the remains and are investigating this case.
Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Board Votes to Dissolve Humboldt Pride

Posted By and on Fri, Oct 28, 2016 at 5:16 PM

Parade marchers prepare to roll out from C Street. - JENNIFER FUMIKO-CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko-Cahill
  • Parade marchers prepare to roll out from C Street.

After months of innernal turmoil, Humboldt Pride’s board of directors has voted to dissolve the organization, putting the future of Humboldt County’s Pride Week in question.

The move was announced earlier this week on the organization’s Facebook page in a short note to the community, which included thanks to donors and volunteers and concluded optimistically, “We cannot wait to see where this new chapter leads.” The post made no mention of the internal conflict and rancor that has been at a steady boil since August.

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DA Clears Arcata Officer in Shooting

Posted By on Fri, Oct 28, 2016 at 9:33 AM

The scene immediately following the May 17 shooting. - FILE
  • File
  • The scene immediately following the May 17 shooting.

The Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office has determined that an Arcata police officer acted in self-defense when he opened fire and wounded 26-year-old Joshua Hoffman at a gas station in May.

After reviewing witness statements and multiple videos capturing the shooting, District Attorney Maggie Fleming determined that Hoffman was charging officer Don Arminio with a stick raised over his head when Arminio fired in self-defense, shooting Hoffman in the right bicep, upper right leg and lower abdomen. Hoffman received immediate medical treatment and is currently jailed in Washington on unrelated charges.

Fleming’s office has charged Hoffman with resisting an officer by threats or violence with use of a dangerous weapon and will have him extradited to Humboldt County at the conclusion of his Washington case.

For a detailed report on the shooting, see past Journal coverage here and here. And see the full press release from the DA’s Office copied below.


NEWS RELEASE

OCTOBER 28, 2016

The District Attorney has completed her review of the officer-involved shooting on May 17, 2016 adjacent to the Shell gas station at 14th and G streets in Arcata. Available information included video of the incident provided by the gas station, video from police vehicles at the scene and investigative reports from the multi-agency Critical Incident Response Team (who respond to investigate an officer-involved shooting) that included statements from officers and six civilian witnesses.
Officers responded to a call to the gas station where 26-year-old Joshua Hoffman was drinking alcohol and swinging two large sticks (one wooden and one metal). Arcata Police Department officers D. Arminio and M. O’Donovan arrived separately; both parked, exited their cars, and tried to speak with Mr. Hoffman. The officers told him to put the sticks down and he yelled, “No.” The officers continued trying to speak with Mr. Hoffman in an attempt to de-escalate the situation, using their patrol cars as barriers in an attempt to maintain a safe distance. Gas station video shows Mr. Hoffman approaching the officers while swinging the sticks and then backing up, followed by Mr. Hoffman charging toward Officer Arminio with one stick raised over his head. Officer O’Donovan fired his taser at Mr. Hoffman but it had no effect. Although Officer Arminio backed away from Mr. Hoffman, he continued moving towards the officer with the stick in a threatening position and the officer fired his pistol. Mr. Hoffman was shot in the right bicep, upper right leg and lower abdomen. He received immediate medical treatment and was transported to the hospital. Statements from independent witnesses correspond with the video evidence of the encounter between Mr. Hoffman and APD officers.
The District Attorney has concluded Officer Arminio fired his weapon in lawful self-defense. Also, Mr. Hoffman has been charged with resisting an officer by threats or violence with use of a dangerous weapon (Penal Code section 69). Mr. Hoffman’s family has been contacted and advised of these decisions.
Mr. Hoffman is currently being held in Washington State on unrelated charges. When those charges have been addressed he will be extradited to Humboldt County.


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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Clash Over Care: Protesters Face Off Over Skilled Nursing Closures

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 6:27 PM

One faction of the skilled nursing protest, with Allen McCloskey holding a sign aloft. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • One faction of the skilled nursing protest, with Allen McCloskey holding a sign aloft.
Two large and loud groups of protesters filled the sidewalk in front of Partnership Healthcare Plan's regional office on Eureka's Fifth Street this afternoon. Both sides want the same thing: for the three skilled nursing homes slated to close and displace vulnerable North Coast seniors to stay open. The point of contention was why, exactly, the homes might close. 

"The residents are being used as pawns," said Chip Sharpe, who sided with the North Coast People's Alliance and others that blame the facilities' operator, Rockport Healthcare Services, and the owner of the company that manages the facilities, Brius Healthcare, for the closure. "I have a close friend who is in Fortuna Rehabilitation and Wellness. The residents are frightened and unsure what will will happen."

Sharpe joined around 12 people holding signs with slogans such as "Shame on Shlomo." Shlomo Rechnitz is a Los Angeles-based billionaire and CEO of Brius Healthcare. Annually, he pays around $4.6 million dollars in revenue from his five facilities in Humboldt County back into companies affiliated or owned by him. Members of the North Coast People's Alliance, formerly Northern Humboldt for Bernie [Sanders], maintain that Rechnitz should put some of this money back into his Humboldt facilities to address an alleged $5 million deficit Rockport has blamed on the cost of recruiting staff from out of the area.

The two sides struggled for domination of the sidewalk. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • The two sides struggled for domination of the sidewalk.

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Supreme Court Denies Eureka's Request in Police Video Case

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 10:59 AM

Since 2008, the Eureka Police Department has outfitted all of its patrol cars with Watch Guard cameras. Who gets to see the footage they collect remains up for debate. - PHOTO BY THADEUS GREENSON
  • photo by Thadeus Greenson
  • Since 2008, the Eureka Police Department has outfitted all of its patrol cars with Watch Guard cameras. Who gets to see the footage they collect remains up for debate.

The California Supreme Court has decided not to reconsider a recent appellate ruling establishing a statewide precedent that police arrest videos cannot be considered confidential officer personnel records and shielded from public view.

The court’s decision may put an end to a more than two-year battle between the city of Eureka and the North Coast Journal over public access to a video depicting the arrest of a 14-year-old suspect that led to criminal excessive force allegations against one of the involved officers. The decision also leaves the city liable for the Journal's legal costs and fees.

"I've been practicing appellate law for nearly 30 years," said Paul Nicholas Boylan, a Davis attorney representing the Journal in the case. "I've never encountered a case like this. All litigation begins with an attorney evaluating the costs and benefits of pursuing a claim. What are the costs of winning? What are the costs of losing? In this case, the risks and cost to the city of losing were always far, far higher than any benefits the city might achieve if it won. The city must have known that the longer it dragged this out, the more it forced the NCJ to litigate, the more it was going to cost taxpayers."

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Update: No Injuries in Hoopa Officer-Involved Shooting

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 10:13 AM

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UPDATE: No one was injured during an officer-involved shooting in Hoopa after a sheriff’s deputy shot at a suspect who reportedly fired at law enforcement several times from his residence during an early morning stand off yesterday.

Eric Michael Matilton, 31, is facing charges of assault with a deadly weapon, willful discharge of a firearm in a grossly negligent manner, and violation of probation, according to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. He bail was set at $50,000.

The full release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office is posted below.

On Thursday, October 27, 2016 at about 3:30 a.m. Humboldt County Deputy Sheriffs were dispatched to Hwy 96 near Boozer Ln. in Hoopa for a report of a subject having some type of mental issue and shooting from his residence.
Upon arrival, deputies attempted to get the subject to exit the residence using a public address (PA) system. Dispatchers were in contact with the suspect via telephone and relayed to deputies the suspect wanted to see a patrol vehicle with overhead lights on before he would come out. Deputies moved a patrol vehicle within sight of the residence and took cover nearby due to shots being fired from the residence. The suspect still refused to exit the residence.
While deputies were on scene, more shots were fired from the residence by the suspect. The suspect then exited the residence with a firearm and walked down the driveway. The suspect fired a bullet in the direction of deputies and retreated back into the residence. The suspect again exited the residence with a firearm and walked toward the staged patrol vehicle pointing the firearm in the direction of where the deputies and bystanders were located. Fearing for the safety of those on scene, a deputy fired shots at the suspect. The suspect was uninjured. Shortly thereafter the suspect was apprehended. No one was injured during this incident.

The suspect was identified as 31 year old Eric Michael Matilton, of Hoopa.

Matilton was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, willful discharge of a firearm in a grossly negligent manner, and violation of probation. He was taken to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where he was booked on the above listed charges. His bail was set at 50,000.

PREVIOUS

A man who “confronted deputies” responding to reports he was shooting from his Hoopa residence early this morning was arrested following an officer-involved shooting at the scene.

Few details on the incident, including whether anyone was injured, are being released by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at this time. An upcoming press release will have more information, according to the sheriff’s office.

Release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:


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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Judge Allows Hearing, Intoxication Evidence in EPD Shooting Trial

Posted By on Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 2:38 PM

Thomas McClain - FROM THE 'JUSTICE FOR TOMMY MCCLAIN' FACEBOOK PAGE.
  • FROM THE 'JUSTICE FOR TOMMY MCCLAIN' FACEBOOK PAGE.
  • Thomas McClain
Reversing course from his tentative ruling in the case, a federal judge has decided he will allow jurors to hear evidence that 22-year-old Thomas McClain had a hearing impairment and had been drinking when he was shot dead by a Eureka police officer in 2014.

A trio of Eureka police officers had McClain at gunpoint in the front yard of his Allard Street home on Sept. 17, 2014, when officer Steven Linfoot opened fire, shooting seven bullets, three of which hit McClain, who died at the scene. Police allege McClain was reaching for a realistic looking BB gun in his waistband, but McClain’s family is alleging in the federal wrongful death suit that McClain was complying with officers’ commands when Linfoot started shooting.

In a previous filing with the court, attorneys representing McClain’s family introduced a transcript of an audio recording of the incident, which indicates officers gave contradictory commands immediately prior to the shooting, with one telling McClain to keep his hands up as another told him to get down on the ground. (Read the transcript here.)

In a ruling filed with the court last week, U.S. District Judge William Orrick III said he will permit the city to introduce evidence that McClain was legally drunk on the night in question and will also permit attorneys for the McClain family to introduce evidence that he had a hearing impairment when the case goes to trial next month.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

UPDATE: Fitness Center Fire Investigated as Arson

Posted By on Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 12:45 PM

The burnt-out remains. - ARCATA FIRE
  • Arcata Fire
  • The burnt-out remains.
UPDATE: An arson investigation is underway after investigators determined the fire that destroyed a McKinleyville fitness center being built by the Big Lagoon Rancheria was human caused, resulting in $3.3 million in damage.

The building under construction on Betty Court was burned to the ground in the early morning blaze on Oct. 23. Surrounding structures were also damaged. Tribal Chair Vigil Moorehead vowed that the Rancheria would rebuild the center in a statement sent out earlier this week.

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Selena Zorrilla-Mendoza said deputies were called to the scene on Tuesday at the request of the Arcata Fire District once investigators established the fire was a possible act of arson.

Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:
On Tuesday, October 25, 2016, Humboldt County Deputies were dispatched to the 1500 block of Betty Ct, where the Big Lagoon Rancheria’s Gym had once stood. Deputies met with Arcata Fire District Investigators determined the cause of the fire to be “human involved.”

The Sheriff’s Office is requesting assistance from the public in identifying the person(s) responsible for the fire.

The estimated damage to the gym and surrounding buildings is over $3,300,000.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.
PREVIOUSLY:
The Big Lagoon Rancheria is intent on seeing its $5.9 million fitness center — which is being built on Betty Court in McKinleyville and was leveled by a pre-dawn fire yesterday — rise "back from the ashes," Tribal Chair Virgil Moorehead said in a statement this morning.

"We've been planning this facility to serve the greater McKinleyville community for almost 13 years," Moorehead said. "We have had a vision for this project for a long time, and while we are saddened by the setback of this fire, we absolutely intend to rebuild. We thank all of the people and organizations who have sent us their support over the course of the past day. WE feel grateful to be part of this community and we look forward to bringing our state of the art health club and fitness center back from the ashes."

Arcata Fire was called to the scene at about 5:45 a.m. Sunday, and arrived to see the large fitness complex fully engulfed in flames. The department believes the fire was active for a while before firefighters were summoned to the scene and said what caused the building, which was still under construction, to catch fire remains under investigation.




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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Eureka's Temporary Homeless Sleeping Areas Here to Stay

Posted By on Sun, Oct 23, 2016 at 3:30 PM

Items left behind at the temporary sleeping area on Del Norte Street. The plastic garbage cans are the totes provided by the city. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Items left behind at the temporary sleeping area on Del Norte Street. The plastic garbage cans are the totes provided by the city.

It has been six months since the city dissolved the long-standing homeless camp in the Palco Marsh. The fall’s first storm has visited, bringing with it ripping winds and record rain. At least 30 people spent the storm newly housed, thanks to the efforts of Betty Chinn, the city of Eureka and the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services. But many more weathered the storm outdoors, on benches in Eureka’s Old Town, hidden in the greenbelts or at a city-owned parking lot at the foot of Del Norte Street.

The parking lot is one of three spaces the city has been using as a rotating designated sleeping area, where people can set up their tents between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Due to the inclement weather, on some days, the tents have been allowed to remain standing. The recent decision to move the Blue Angel Village – a shipping container shelter project for the homeless run by the Betty Kwan Chinn Foundation – to the city’s parking lot at Washington and Koster streets spurred concerns from local business owners that there would be an even greater impact on their customers and employees. Problems with theft, litter and troubling encounters have been pinned on the sleeping areas, which were implemented by the city after the Palco Marsh eviction, partially as a means to defend allegations contained in a lawsuit brought by local attorney Peter Martin, and partially to address widespread concern that those living rough in Eureka would move into residential areas once shifted from the marsh. Currently, the location of the temporary sleeping area rotates every two weeks.

With the move of the Blue Angel Village to the parking lot on Koster, only two sites remain for use as temporary sleeping areas – the parking lot at the foot of Del Norte and the parking lot of the Wharfinger building. Another site, at the foot of T Street near the Samoa Bridge, was proposed at the Oct. 18 city council meeting, but the council voted unanimously to let the motion die. Residents and business owners of the northern “Bridge Distict” spoke extensively against the idea during public comment.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Eureka Costume Drive Aims to Help Local Kids

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 10:14 AM

The costume closet at the Adorni Center in Eureka. The city of Eureka is collecting new or lightly used Halloween costumes for children whose families might not otherwise be able to afford them. - KIMBERLY WEAR
  • Kimberly Wear
  • The costume closet at the Adorni Center in Eureka. The city of Eureka is collecting new or lightly used Halloween costumes for children whose families might not otherwise be able to afford them.
The city of Eureka is collecting costumes and accessories ranging from kooky to spooky to help ensure local children have a happy Halloween.

The drive was started last year for children living at the Serenity Inn but when other parents who heard about the giveaway showed up, Parks and Recreation staff saw the larger community need and expand the effort.

Recreation Activities Coordinator Brian Millett said the city sent out costume vouchers for distribution to a number of agencies and organizations that work with foster children and families in need, including homeless liaisons in schools and social services caseworkers.

So far, nearly 200 children have received costumes that their families might not otherwise have been able to afford, he said.

“Anything helps. These are families that are very appreciative,” Millett said, adding that it's "heartwarming" to watch the excited children pick out their Halloween attire.

The drive is collecting new or lightly used costumes for children and teenagers, with a special need for outfits to fit boys and girls between 8 and 12 years old. Millett said hats, crowns, gloves or other accessories are also welcome.

The city asks that nothing sexual or violent in nature be included in drop offs.

Costumes can be brought to the Adorni Community and Recreation Center at 1011 Waterfront Drive through the first week in November.

“What we're trying to do is get ahead of it for next year,” Millett said, adding there was a high need this year. “We’ll still be collecting costumes up to Nov. 7."

For questions or more information on how to donate, contact Ashley Taylor at 441-4374.




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