Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Fortuna Selects New Police Chief Formerly Featured on the Colbert Show

Posted By and on Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 3:43 PM

click to enlarge New Fortuna Police Chief Casey Day.
  • New Fortuna Police Chief Casey Day.
The city of Fortuna, whose police department's top job was held most recently by former county Sheriff Mike Downey, announced yesterday the hiring of Sgt. Casey Day, a 19 year veteran of the Anderson Police Department in Shasta County.

According to the city's press release, Day is a former United States Marine with a master's degree in criminal justice from Arizona State University and a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from Simpson University in Redding California. Day's department made national news in 2015 when it announced the force would be outfitting officers with nunchucks as a non-lethal alternative for subduing suspects. Day was interviewed extensively about the decision, and his demonstration of the weapons' use on multiple female reporters went on to be lampooned by Stephen Colbert on the host's late-night show.


Day explained to reporters at the time that the weapons would primarily be used as a control rather than an impact weapon.

In Anderson, Day has also worked under the leadership of Chief Michael Johnson, a former Eureka Police Department Sgt. who was involved in the fatal 2006 shooting of Cheri Lyn Moore. Johnson was reportedly offered the job of EPD chief in 2017 but declined the post after world leaked of the job offer, prompting some local outcry, alleged foot dragging from the city manager and — ultimately — a scathing letter from Johnson withdrawing his name from consideration.

Other than coverage of the nunchucks, there isn't much information about Day online. In 2017, he was one of a handful of Anderson officers honored by the California Highway Patrol and the American Automobile Association for recovering stolen vehicles — a February press release from that year notes he'd received his sixth, seventh and eighth pin, with each representing a recovered vehicle.

About a month later, however, a vehicle recovery effort went horribly wrong and put Day at the scene of a fatal officer-involved shooting at a Motel 6, according to  reporting from the Redding Record-Searchlight.

According to a July 13, 2017, review of the shooting by the Shasta County District Attorney's Office, an officer spotted a stolen rental car during a routine patrol of the Motel 6 parking lot and called for backup. The officer contacted the motel office and learned a man driving the vehicle — Edward Parinella, 53 — had checked in that day. The officer spotted Parinella in the room and obtained a key card from the office and called for backup, prompting Day, a sergeant, and two other officers to respond.

While Day waited in a nearby stairway landing, the other three officers went to Parinella's door, according to the report, and knocked loudly announcing their presence as police officers. They continued to knock and yell for one minute and 38 seconds, according to the report, but got no answer before deciding to open the door with the key and enter the room.

But while in process of opening the door, according to the report, "the officers were immediately confronted by Parinella exiting the room and holding what was later identified as a 9mm semiautomatic handgun." Parinella opened fire and hit one of the officers twice in his kevlar vest, prompting two other officers on scene to fire a total of 19 shots in a matter of seconds, fatally wounding Parinella. Day did not fire his weapon during the incident.

Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett found the officers acted lawfully in the shooting.

"Mr. Parinella's death, while unfortunate, was a result of his own actions," Bridgett wrote in her report. "The force used by the officers was necessary to protect themselves, each other and the public. Their actions were justified and consistent with the law."

A press release from the city of Fortuna touts Day's focus on community-oriented policing as a reason for his hire, saying he plans to "jump right in and hit the ground running."

Yesterday, Day's wife took to Facebook to celebrate the news.

"I'm so excited I can finally post!," she wrote. "I want to congratulate my handsome husband who has accepted a position as chief of police with the Fortuna Police Department. This has been in the works for a while but due to COVID it has baby stepped its way to July. We are excited to make Fortuna our home and herald in an era of community backed policing and producing a collective vision embodied by all."

Day is slated to take his new post beginning July 6.

See the full press release from the City of Fortuna copied below:


The City of Fortuna is pleased to announce the hiring of a new Police Chief. Casey Day has been selected following an extensive search and interview process. Mr. Day was selected based on his extensive law enforcement experience and education that focused on organizational leadership and criminal justice. He plans to jump right in and hit the ground running in his new position as the Fortuna Police Chief. Casey plans to work on developing community relationships early on so that he can better understand the current issues Fortuna is facing. He also plans on building on the current strengths and successes of the Fortuna Police Department as well as bringing fresh ideas to improve the performance of the organization and the City, including emphasis on community oriented policing.

Casey Day is a 19 year veteran of the Anderson Police Department (APD) in Shasta County, California. Casey grew up in Shasta Lake City and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating from high school. Casey attended the Butte Law Enforcement Academy in 2000 and was hired by APD in January of 2001. He has a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Arizona State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from Simpson University in Redding California.

Casey was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps at the rank of Sergeant and served as a Police Sergeant and valued member of the Command Staff with the Anderson P.O. for several years. Casey has significant experience overseeing professional policing programs and personnel.

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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.
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Linda Stansberry

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Linda Stansberry was a staff writer of the North Coast Journal from 2015 to 2018.

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