Thursday, July 21, 2016

Arrest Video Can't be Kept Confidential, Appellate Court Rules

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 2:58 PM

The dash camera in a Eureka Police Department patrol car. - THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson
  • The dash camera in a Eureka Police Department patrol car.

A Eureka police video depicting the arrest of a 14-year-old suspect can’t be considered a confidential personnel record and must be released to the public, an appellate court has ruled.

The court’s unanimous decision upholds a May 21, 2015 ruling by Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Christopher Wilson, who granted a Journal petition seeking release of the video, finding the public’s interest in seeing the video outweighed any privacy concerns.

The city of Eureka, which objected to the video’s release, along with Humboldt County counsel, appealed Wilson’s ruling, arguing that he erred by not affording the video the protections granted to police officer personnel records. Because the Dec. 6, 2012 arrest led to a citizen complaint and was used as a part of an internal affairs investigation into one of the arresting officer’s conduct, the city argued the video was a part of the officer’s personnel file and should consequently be barred from release.

But in its 12-page ruling authored by Presiding Justice Barbara Jones, the court dismissed that argument, finding the video was not generated as a part of an internal affairs investigation or a record relating specifically to an officer’s advancement, appraisal or discipline.

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UPDATE: Klamath Boating Accident Victim Identified

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 2:36 PM

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At 10:30 a.m. today, a Yurok Tribal Police Department officer assisted a sheriff's deputy to recover the body of James Dennis Cook, also known as Major. Cook's body was tangled up in branches and brush in the river. He had been missing since last Friday following a boating accident. The Humboldt County Coroner's Office will conduct an autopsy to determine cause of death.

Previously:

The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office has called off its search for a 63-year-old man who went missing on the Klamath River on Friday evening. The man, who was boating with friends, was on one of two boats that capsized in the swift water. The accident apparently took place after one boat lost power  and capsized with three people aboard. A second boat, carrying four people, went to its rescue but also capsized. Six people swam to shore, but one man remains missing. The HCSO is unable to confirm his identity at this time, saying only that he is from the Klamath area. 

It is common practice for the Sheriff's Office to suspend a search after three days, confirmed Lt. Wayne Hanson, adding that the Yurok Tribal Fisheries boat runs the river every day.

"The river is unforgiving once a body goes into it," said Hanson, "Basically it would be because of the water conditions and temperature."

If confirmed, this would be the fourth drowning of 2016.


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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Eureka Seeks Dismissal of PalCo Marsh Lawsuit; Plaintiffs Look to Make it a Class Action

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 11:46 AM

A camp on the waterfront. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • A camp on the waterfront.

The city of Eureka is asking a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit brought by 11 people challenging the city’s May 2 eviction of the PalCo Marsh homeless encampments.

Meanwhile, Peter Martin, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, has informed the court he intends to turn the case into a class action suit, which could bring in additional plaintiffs and increase potential liability for the city.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Jail Adds Suicide Netting to Budget

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 12:52 PM

A version of the suicide netting that may go up in the jail, as included in the budget request. - HUMBOLDT COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
  • Humboldt County Department of Public Works
  • A version of the suicide netting that may go up in the jail, as included in the budget request.
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will discuss tomorrow whether to add a provision for suicide netting to the Humboldt County jail's budget. The item comes after a rash of suicide attempts — 12 in 2015 — in the facility, one of which proved fatal. Two of the 12 attempts involved inmates jumping from the top of a stairwell onto the floor two stories below.

In its request for the budget amendment, the sheriff's department states the "purchase of the suicide prevention netting will significantly improve health and safety in the Correctional Facility by eliminating inmates' ability to jump over the existing railings on the second tier." The estimated cost of the netting is $216,731, which will come from a Revenue Community Corrections trust, and not the county general fund. The jail is also requesting an additional $159,988 from the same source for a computerized mail screening system that "will detect both visible and non-visible drugs that may have been folded or soaked onto paper."

Staff confirmed there have been no new suicide attempts since 2015.

The board will also discuss a slew of school bond measures and the renewal of agreements between the county and several regional mental health treatment facilities. Check this link tomorrow after 9 a.m. to watch the meeting live.
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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Williams Grove, Avenue of the Giants

Posted By on Sun, Jul 17, 2016 at 2:27 PM

The male flameskimmer. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • The male flameskimmer.
Saturday was the annual picnic of the Redwood Camera Club on the Avenue of the Giants. The majesty and beauty of the Sequoias always makes for an enjoyable ride. This was my first time to visit Williams Grove. It will not be my last. There are many good picnic spots, toilets and river access.

I was, of course, interested in seeing if the insect fauna on the South Fork of the Eel River is similar or different from where I regularly walk along the Van Duzen River. Flowing gently through low elevation redwood bounded valleys the environments are pretty similar.

In my neighborhood, I have been anticipating seeing one of my favorite dragonflies, the pale-faced club skimmer (Brechmorhoga mendax). True to the name “skimmer,” I've watched them tirelessly cruising rapidly just a few inches over a wide flat on the Van Duzen. It is rare to see one land. This day, in this place, however, they were behaving differently. There was a pretty good hatch of a tiny species of mayfly in progress, and many were forming transient groups milling about at head height in the lee of clumps of willow. Recognizable by their overall black coloring and white patches near the end of their abdomen, the clubskimmers were flying through the churning formations over and over, grabbing lunch on the run.

Only occasionally seen at home, there were several flame skimmers (Libellula saturata). The brilliant orange males and brownish females perch on low dead twigs, dashing out to grab an occasional meal that happens by. All the specimens I was able to get close to displayed some wing damage, hinting that they had been around a while.

The big black and yellow Western river cruisers (Macromia magnifica) behaved just as they do in my own neighborhood. True to their name, cruising continually about 15 centimeters above the open spaces of river bar. In flight, they hold their abdomen in a distinctive shallow arch and are one of the largest dragonflies common in our area.

A single bison snake tail (Ophiogomphus bison) put in an appearance. Judging from its bright colors and pristine wings, I suspect it had emerged in the last few days.

Miles apart, I was actually a little surprised to find nearly the same exact range of species in the two environments, although the relative numbers were considerably different.

A buffalo snaketail. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A buffalo snaketail.
The female flameskimmer. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • The female flameskimmer.
A western river cruiser in flight. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A western river cruiser in flight.
Palefaced clubskimmers enjoying an inflight mayfly snack. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • Palefaced clubskimmers enjoying an inflight mayfly snack.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Eureka City Council Set to Discuss Food Trucks, Personal Property

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 3:36 PM

THINKSTOCK
  • Thinkstock
The Eureka City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to allow food trucks or "mobile vendors" to operate in specifically zoned sections of the city, potentially pass a storage of personal property ordinance and (probably) grant two more contracts to the Mercer Fraser Co.

The mobile vendors ordinance, which was discussed at length July 5, updates several portions of the current municipal code related to coastal zoning and zoning regulations to allow food trucks in almost all sectors of the city, provided the operators have been deemed to "not be a threat to public safety." On July 5, the council decided to modify the bill slightly, adding language that would except vendors from requiring council approval to vend on city property during special events.

The council will also discuss whether or not to pass an ordinance governing the storage of personal property on city land. City Clerk Pam Powell said this ordinance was brought forward after continuing "property issues" in the area of the recent temporary homeless sleeping area on Del Norte Street. A similar ordinance was introduced in September of 2015, but was ultimately tabled after protest. Instead, in October, the council passed the Open Space Property Management Plan, which restricted use of building materials in what was then the city's largest homeless encampment, at the PalCo Marsh.

The ordinance, as currently written, includes language mandating that the city inform people that their personal property will be removed from city land, allows the city to impound property if it is not removed within 24 hours and requires the storage of personal property for 90 days. There are some exclusions to these obligations, such as items that are deemed hazardous or pertinent to a crime investigation. The ordinance also states that failure to remove property within 24 hours is a crime, and that a person can reclaim their belongings at the Eureka Police Department after establishing proof of ownership, defined as describing the property and where it was located. Photo identification will not be required. 

In the language of the ordinance, storage of personal property in public areas is referred to as a "public health or safety hazard that adversely affects residential and commercial areas."

Currently the city's Parks and Recreation Department, with the occasional help of the Sheriff's Work Alternative Program, is responsible for cleaning up city land that has been used as a temporary location for homeless people to sleep. According to the department's director, Miles Slattery, a 6-yard dumpster placed at those locations is being emptied on a weekly basis, and yesterday, when people were moved from the foot of Del Norte Street to a parking lot on Koster Street, staff filled an additional two 40-yard dumpsters. Slattery said the ordinance would give EPD an extra tool " for them to not allow that kind of accumulation to occur in the first place." He also said the population at the sites has increased in the last few months, from around 30 people camping to closer to 50.

The council's consent calendar Tuesday also includes declaring Mercer Fraser Co. the low bidder on two contracts, a pipeline project with a $2.5 million award and maintenance paving project worth $175,521. Mercer Fraser also recently won the bid to build the Eureka Waterfront Trail through the PalCo Marsh, where many of those camping on Koster Street formerly stayed.


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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Teenage Girls Killed in Fortuna Hit and Run, Driver of Jeep Wrangler Wanted

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 9:55 AM

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The California Highway Patrol has issued an alert to be on the look out for a newer model light grey Jeep Wrangler that struck and killed two teenage girls in Fortuna last night. The girls were skateboarding northbound on the southbound lane of Eel River Drive, just south of Kenmar Road when they were struck by the vehicle. The Jeep was last seen headed east on Drake Hill Road. Investigators are using some pieces of the vehicle left at the scene to find more information. One of the girls was pronounced dead at the scene, around 9:16 p.m., and another succumbed to her injuries at 6:30 a.m. after being flown to Oakland Children's Hospital.

According to the press release, "the suspect vehicle should have moderate to major front end and driver side damage. Any information leading to the identity of a suspect and/or location of the vehicle should be referred to the Humboldt CHP office at 822-5981 during business hours or the Humboldt Communications Center at 268-2000 after business hours."


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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

In Solidarity

Posted By on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 3:29 PM

About 100 people gathered at the Humboldt County Courthouse yesterday for a candlelight vigil to honor those killed in violent altercations across the country over the past week. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • About 100 people gathered at the Humboldt County Courthouse yesterday for a candlelight vigil to honor those killed in violent altercations across the country over the past week.
A crowd of about 100 people gathered at the Humboldt County Courthouse last night for a “solidarity vigil,” an event promoted through word-of-mouth and social media. The vigil’s Facebook page asked, “What must change so that these systems meant to protect us, truly protect all of us — especially our loved ones who are Black, Native, brown, LGBT…?”
 
Tamara McFarland, of Bayside, one of the informal organizers of the “Solidarity Vigil for Our Beloved Community,” arrived early to place 11 framed portraits of recently killed black persons and the five deceased Dallas law enforcement officers on the courthouse steps.
 

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Sunday Scenes in Sunny Blue Lake

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 4:45 PM

Allen Mann, of Fieldbrook (second from left), entered his 1960 Chevrolet Impala in the 12th annual Bill Nessler Car Show that followed the Annie & Mary Day parade in Blue Lake on Sunday. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • Allen Mann, of Fieldbrook (second from left), entered his 1960 Chevrolet Impala in the 12th annual Bill Nessler Car Show that followed the Annie & Mary Day parade in Blue Lake on Sunday.

Hot rides, tunes and even a wookiee: Blue Lake had it all Sunday. Between the Annie & Mary Day Parade, the 12th annual Bill Nessler Car Show and the Folk Life Festival, there were plenty of sites. Luckily, local photographer Mark Larson was there to capture some of the fun. Check out his slideshow below.


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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Honoring the Fallen

Posted By on Sun, Jul 10, 2016 at 8:34 PM

Mike Grimaldo, of Fortuna, held a flag with a blue stripe at the candlelight vigil in Fortuna on Friday evening. "The Thin Blue Line" is a symbol used to commemorate fallen law enforcement officers. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • Mike Grimaldo, of Fortuna, held a flag with a blue stripe at the candlelight vigil in Fortuna on Friday evening. "The Thin Blue Line" is a symbol used to commemorate fallen law enforcement officers.

The rain held off but tears were common in the crowd of more than 200 during the Friday evening candlelight vigil in Rohner Park in Fortuna. After the events in Dallas, the vigil had been quickly organized  by Sandi Petersen and others of Eel Valley Crime Stoppers, as well as Humboldt County supervisors Rex Bohn and Estelle Fennell.

“We wanted to honor the Dallas policemen killed and injured and to show support for our local law enforcement,” said Petersen.

Many local law enforcement and fire department personnel attended the vigil, along with their families, friends and community members.

On average, 161 law enforcement personnel are killed in the line of duty each year, according to Humboldt County Undersheriff William Honsal, who led off the speakers at the vigil. He added a moving account of the impact of the Dallas shooting on his staff and their desire to show support for their Dallas peers.

Honsal then lit the first candle in memory of those in Dallas and began sharing the flame with those in attendance.

Bohn and Fennell both recounted how they had spent time Friday working with local law enforcement personnel and had observed how they were affected. “Even so, today, I watched them treat some ne’er-do-wells with gentleness and without bias,” Fennell said.

“We’re so lucky to have our local law enforcement,” said Bohn. “They show so much competence and professionalism, and do their job by the law. There were a lot of sad faces today at the courthouse. Let them know when you see them how much you appreciate them.”


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