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December 7, 2006

 In the News


DO THE RIGHT THING: Last Wednesday, one day before his Nov. 30 retirement, Eureka Police Chief Dave Douglas held a press conference to announce that the intra-agency investigation of the Oct. 23 fatal shooting of Christopher Burgess, 16, by Eureka Police Officer Terry Liles, was essentially complete and it had been concluded that Liles' actions were a "legal and lawful" act of self-defense. "This was a situation that from all investigative indications was going to result in one or another person losing their life, " he said. "It is not OK to try to stab, assault, batter, shoot or otherwise injure a police officer."

Burgess brandished a hunting knife and fled from probation officers into a Chester Street gully after they tried to apprehend him on a warrant. He was shot twice at close range by Liles, through the heart and the hip, and was pronounced dead a short time later at St. Joseph Hospital. Douglas told the media that Liles would return to duty this week. "It is a horrible tragedy that occurred, but it is not the fault of the probation department," Douglas said. "It is not the fault of the Eureka Police Department. It is not the fault of Officer Terry Liles."

Douglas went on to make an impassioned plea to the public to refrain from harassing Liles, and also to show the EPD some gratitude for putting their lives at risk. "What should be occurring," he said, "for the men and women of the Eureka Police Department ... on a day to day basis ... while you wait to be sure that we do the right thing, that we do a proper investigation ... more people should be saying, `Thank you. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for the sacrifices you make on our behalf.'"

But a faction of residents nevertheless remain unwaveringly skeptical of the EPD for committing two shooting deaths in six months: those of Burgess and another Eureka resident, Cheri Lyn Moore. Calls for an independent police review board comprised of citizens began in earnest following Moore's April 14 death, and have only grown louder since. On Sunday afternoon, a pair of activists canvassed the Bayshore Mall parking lot with quarter-page fliers denouncing the EPD and Officer Liles. "Mothers warn your children," the document read above a graphic of a pair of hands holding two pistols. "Officer Liles is back on the streets." On the flip side, the document urged the reader to contact District Attorney Paul Gallegos to "encourage further investigation" into the fatal shootings and to ask interim EPD Chief Murl Harpham to remove Liles from duty.

-- Helen Sanderson


A PLACE TO HANG: "Laptop nation," I say, as my friends and I walk into Mosgo's. The coffee shop is heavily populated with laptop screens, examined by intense, intellectually frowning individuals. They're scattered in clumps: on the comfy chairs, the sofas, the wooden tables. I feel bad -- but only slightly -- that the four of us are about to mar the surface of the laptop-browsing pond by engaging in a rousing game of "Guess Who." And hey, if we're feeling adventurous, we might even follow it up with the always emotional "Chutes and Ladders."

Mosgo's has such a comfortable atmosphere that you can never really feel completely bad about doing your thing there. As Mosgo employee Corrie puts it, "We encourage people to hang out and spend the whole day here." Adds coworker Cortnee: "It's like home, with coffee." And it's true: My friends and I always seem to wind up there, just to hang out, for hours at a time. Of course, we always decide to buy something, howevephoto of Mosgos'sr small.

We claim a table as our own and climb onto the high wooden chairs. "What are we going to get, guys?" Each of us puts a dollar on the table, then our faces turn up to the chalkboard to see what delectable item we can purchase with our fortune. The selection ranges from flavored coffees to bakery items to fresh fruit in a bowl by the register. We finally decide that we're feeling a mixed berry smoothie, which falls nicely within our price range. Sustenance paid for, we retrieve "Guess Who" from the back bookshelf, split into teams of two, and duel.

"Would your person steal money from his own grandmother?" my teammate and I ask our friends. They hesitate before saying "No-o.... He'd feel too bad about it."

I put down Philip. That guy's clearly a sheisty character. He doesn't feel bad about anything.

In the midst of our game, Ron, a.k.a. coolest man on the planet and manager of Mosgo's, pops over to our table, smoothie in hand. He sets it down in between our "Guess Who" boards and says, importantly, "OK. Listen. What did the zero say to the eight?"

"`Nice belt,'" my friend answers promptly. And correctly.

"No way!" Ron exclaims. "Did you tell me that one?" Suddenly he seems to spy the single smoothie, awaiting its doom amidst four hungry beings. "Are we going to need more straws?" he asks knowingly. Almost before we can answer, he is gone, then back again, three additional straws in hand. Ron is such a wise, bespectacled man.

In the hour that follows, our table sees two games of "Guess Who" and an intense "Chutes and Ladders" match. It's 10 minutes past closing and the last laptopper is filing out the door as my friend hurriedly rolls the dice and lands exactly on the last square. With a celebratory flourish, we pack up the games, stow them back on the bookshelf and wave goodbye to the friendly Mosgo's staff, stepping out of the snug coffee shop into the cold night.

Outside, Peter, a co-founder of the coffee shop, is bringing in the outdoor chairs and tables that are always located in front of Mosgo's big windows. "Thank you for coming by and having a good time," he says with a smile.

"Thanks for having us!" we reply, smiling back, completely sincere. We pile into the car and drive away laughing, happy with a night well spent.

-- Molly Simas



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