Crime

Monday, October 18, 2021

Former County Building Inspector Sentenced to One Year in Jail, Two Years Felony Probation for Soliciting Bribes

Posted By on Mon, Oct 18, 2021 at 4:04 PM

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Patrick William McTigue was sentenced to serve one year in jail, two years of felony probation and ordered to pay restitution to his victims after pleading guilty to one count of bribery and two counts of felony grand theft while working as a county building inspector a few years ago.

Throughout 2017 and 2018, McTigue used his position as a county building inspector to solicit bribes totaling over $120,000 from individuals seeking permits for commercial cannabis operations. McTigue defrauded his victims by agreeing to expedite their applications in return for money or other assets.

According to the release, additional counts of the same crimes involving three additional victims will be included requiring McTigue to pay restitution. The prosecution agreed to this resolution to secure restitution for all of McTigue’s victims and to ensure that convictions will prevent him from obtaining similar employment in the future.

McTigue was remanded and began serving his one-year sentence today.

Read the full press release below.

Earlier today, Judge Kaleb Cockrum sentenced 50-year-old Patrick William Francis McTigue, of Fortuna, to serve one year in jail, two years of felony probation and to pay restitution to his numerous victims. The sentencing follows an October 13th hearing where McTigue pled guilty to crimes committed while he was working as an inspector for the Humboldt County Building and Planning Department: one count of felony bribery (Penal Code section [PC] 68) and two counts of felony grand theft (PC 487) involving three separate victims.  Additional counts of the same crimes involving three additional victims will be included in the order requiring McTigue to pay restitution. The prosecution agreed to this resolution to secure restitution for all of McTigue’s victims and to ensure that convictions will prevent McTigue from obtaining similar employment in the future.

Throughout 2017 and 2018, McTigue used his position as a County inspector to solicit bribes from individuals seeking permits for commercial cannabis operations.   He defrauded his victims by agreeing to expedite their applications in return for money or other assets.   McTigue defrauded victims of over $120,000 during his employment with the County.

McTigue faced a maximum sentence of over 5 years in prison.  In prosecuting the case, Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Steven Steward argued that incarceration was warranted because the crimes harmed not only individuals but also the public’s trust in government.  At the conclusion of this morning’s sentencing, Judge Cockrum remanded McTigue into custody to begin serving his one-year jail sentence.  Deputy Public Defender Casey Russo represented McTigue.

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Friday, October 8, 2021

APD Releases Video from Mad River Road Police Shooting

Posted By on Fri, Oct 8, 2021 at 1:22 PM

A patrol-car camera's footage shows Charles David Chivrell turning to point a gun at officers as he flees moments before he is fatally shot. - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • A patrol-car camera's footage shows Charles David Chivrell turning to point a gun at officers as he flees moments before he is fatally shot.
The 35-year-old Eureka man fatally shot by a California Highway Patrol officer last month on Mad River Road fired at least one round at officers before the officer returned fire, video of the incident released today shows.

Having followed Charles David Chivrell, who had a pistol holstered on his hip and a briefcase in hand, for approximately 1 mile, during which he repeatedly refused to comply with their directives, police formulated a plan to shoot him with non-lethal pepper balls — small rubber capsules filled with a chemical irritant similar to pepper spray. Footage from body-worn and patrol car cameras shows an Arcata police officer get out of a patrol vehicle about 100 feet from Chivrell and open fire on Chivrell with the pepper balls as he walked away. After being hit with the first of six or seven balls, Chivrell can be seen pulling his pistol as he begins to run away. Seconds later he can be seen turning and firing his handgun at officers just before he is shot with a single bullet fired from CHP officer Michael Griffin’s rifle and falls to the road.

The footage released today by the Arcata Police Department is edited into what’s called a “critical incident video” that offers a nine-and-a-half-minute narrative of the fatal interaction. It walks viewers step-by-step through the incident, from why officers were called to the scene on Sept. 9 to Griffin shooting Chivrell. The Journal has California Public Records Act requests pending with both APD and CHP seeking full, unedited video and audio recordings from the incident. APD has indicated it expects to release the footage it has next week and CHP has yet to respond to the request, other than to confirm its receipt, but is legally required to do so by Monday.


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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Arcata High Students Walk Out to Stand with Sexual Assault Survivors

Posted By on Thu, Sep 30, 2021 at 11:06 AM

Hundreds of Arcata High School students walked out of class Wednesday to show support and stand in solidarity with victims of sexual assault, marking the third straight day of walkouts by students in Humboldt County following allegations of a sexual assault by a Fortuna High School student in August. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Hundreds of Arcata High School students walked out of class Wednesday to show support and stand in solidarity with victims of sexual assault, marking the third straight day of walkouts by students in Humboldt County following allegations of a sexual assault by a Fortuna High School student in August.

For the third consecutive day, students walked off a high school campus in Humboldt County on Wednesday to stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault and protest what they feel are inadequate administrative and societal responses.

Hundreds of Arcata High School students descended on the Arcata Plaza yesterday morning, many clad in white or holding signs emblazoned with slogans like "no means no." They then listened as student after student came forward to share stories of sexual assault and sexualized trauma. The walkout followed similar ones sat Eureka, Fortuna and McKinleyville high schools Monday and at South Fork High School and Academy of the Redwoods on Tuesday.

The week of walkouts follows Southern Humboldt reporter Kym Kemp's report Sunday of a Fortuna High School student's allegation she was sexually assaulted by a fellow student in August during a party at Centerville Beach — an allegation currently under investigation by the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office — and the student's feeling that the school had failed to take appropriate action after the alleged assault was reported.

Local photographer Mark McKenna was on scene yesterday to document the Arcata High School walkout, which included hundreds of students and spanned several hours. See his photos below.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Body Found in Blue Lake Identified, Determined Homicide

Posted By on Tue, Sep 21, 2021 at 3:25 PM

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The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office has identified the body found near Hatchery Road in Blue Lake on Sept. 11, as 65-year-old Blue Lake resident Eugene Steven Segal.

Segal's death has been deemed a homicide after an autopsy revealed his cause of death to be blunt force trauma and stab wounds.

The investigation is ongoing and the Sheriff's Office asks anyone with information about this case to call 445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 268-2539.

Read the full press release below.


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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Robert Durst Convicted of Murder Committed While Living in Humboldt

Posted By on Sat, Sep 18, 2021 at 3:23 PM

The New York Times reports that Robert Durst, "the enigmatic real estate scion who evaded criminal suspicion for half his life only to become a national sensation after damaging admissions were aired in a 2015 documentary on HBO, was convicted on Friday in the execution-style murder of a close confidante more than 20 years ago." For five years starting in 1995, Durst was also a resident of Trinidad.
Robert Durst in the documentary "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst." - COURTESY OF HBO
  • Courtesy of HBO
  • Robert Durst in the documentary "The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst."

This conviction is for the 2000 murder of  Susan Berman, though prosecutors allege her death is connected to the disappearance and death of Durst's wife and the death of another person, Morris Black. Read the Journal's 2015 story on Durst and his time in Humboldt here, including how Durst drove from Humboldt County to Los Angeles to shoot Berman in her Los Angeles home.
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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Del Norte Sheriff Release Video of Fatal Police Shooting

Posted By on Tue, Sep 14, 2021 at 12:12 PM

Robert Anderson. - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Robert Anderson.
The Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office has released body-worn camera footage that shows police officers fatally shooting Robert Anderson on Aug. 25 after he lunged at an officer with a kitchen knife and sprinted toward a woman at the scene.

Police who responded to the 911 call on Parkway Drive and Sherwood Lane at about 2:45 p.m. on Aug. 25 reporting a disabled vehicle in the roadway reported arriving to find Anderson, 38, holding a knife and “walking in the traffic lanes.”

A press release from the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office issued that day states, “The male subject advanced toward the officers and an officer-involved shooting occurred. The subject died as a result of the incident.” In the ensuing days, the woman at the scene, Sequoia Annette, who identified herself as Anderson’s wife, disputed the Sheriff’s Office account on social media, saying he “got shot while running towards me” and there “was no reason for him to die on the ground the way he did period.” Anderson, who was Black, would not have been shot if he had been white, she wrote.

On Sept. 2, the North Coast Journal filed California Public Records Act requests with the California Highway Patrol and the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office seeking video footage of the shooting. On Sept. 11, the Sheriff’s Office responded, saying that a couple of hours earlier it had posted two videos pulled from the body-worn cameras of deputies at the scene and posted them online. The CHP, meanwhile, said it will not release its video footage of the incident until next month, saying doing so now could jeopardize an investigation into Anderson’s death.

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UPDATE: Firefighter Memorial on Clarke Plaza Restored

Posted By on Tue, Sep 14, 2021 at 11:25 AM

Restoration work at the Fallen Firefighter Memorial. - HUMBOLDT BAY FIRE
  • Humboldt Bay Fire
  • Restoration work at the Fallen Firefighter Memorial.
UPDATE:

The Fallen Firefighters Memorial statue on Clarke Plaza in Eureka has been restored to its original state with the help of the city of Eureka, Advanced Security Systems and Richard Geisel.

"RESTORED: Thank you so much for all the community support and for everyone who helped restore the Fallen Firefighters Memorial Eureka, CA to its original glory," Humboldt Bay Fire wrote in a Facebook Post.

See the Facebook post below.


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The bronze helmet is spray painted black. - HUMBOLDT BAY FIRE
  • Humboldt Bay Fire
  • The bronze helmet is spray painted black.
Earlier today, Humboldt Bay Fire found the Fallen Firefighters Memorial on the Clarke Plaza in Eureka had been vandalized, with the statue's bronze helmet spray painted black and illegible words sprayed on the brick ground surrounding it.

"We are discouraged, disheartened and disappointed that someone would deface this important memorial, especially right after the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a date that is held so dearly in the hearts of the fire community and American public," states a release sent by Humboldt Bay Fire. "If anyone has information or camera footage related to the vandalism of the Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Eureka, CA, please contact the Eureka Police Department to update the open case."

Graffiti on the brick surrounding the memorial. - HUMBOLDT BAY FIRE
  • Humboldt Bay Fire
  • Graffiti on the brick surrounding the memorial.
According to the release, this is the fourth offense directed toward local fire departments within the last month. On Aug. 15, the Rio Dell Volunteer Fire Department was broken into and a 4-wheeler was stolen. On Sept. 9, Samoa Peninsula Fire District was broken into and several tools were taken. On Sept. 12, Telegraph Ridge Volunteer Department was broken into, resulting in broken windows, damaged property and stolen cash.

All incidents are currently under investigation. Anyone with information related to them is asked to contact local law enforcement agencies.

Read the full press release below.

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EPD Texting Investigation Nears Conclusion

Posted By on Tue, Sep 14, 2021 at 6:00 AM

Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson estimated that the crowd crew to between 700 and 800 people. - PHOTO BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photo by Mark McKenna
  • Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson estimated that the crowd crew to between 700 and 800 people.
Nearly six months after it began, an outside investigation into misogynistic, dehumanizing, vulgar and violent text messages shared between a unit of Eureka Police Department officers appears to be nearing its conclusion.

“All interviews have been completed and they are in the process of compiling all that information into a report,” Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson told the Journal.

The text messages were first brought to light by the Sacramento Bee, which published a bombshell report March 17 after someone leaked screenshots of the texts to the paper, which were later corroborated through a California Public Records Act request. In the immediate aftermath of the Bee’s report, Watson announced that two officers — Sgt. Rodrigo Reyna-Sanchez, a 22-year veteran of the department who led the unit, and officer Mark Meftah, who joined EPD in 2016 — had been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. (While a half-dozen or so officers had been included in the threads, Meftah and Reyna-Sanchez combined to send the vast majority of offending texts.)

In May, Watson confirmed to the Journal that Capt. Patrick O’Neill had also been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation, though it remains unclear if it’s related to the texting investigation.

The day of the Bee’s report, Watson announced the city would contract with an outside entity to conduct an objective and thorough investigation and within days the city had hired Sacks, Rickets & Case LLP, giving the firm sole authority in determining the “means, manner and findings related to the investigation,” and giving it “full discretion” to conduct the investigation without the city “influencing or interfering with the outcome,” according to the contract. Todd Simonson, a partner at the firm, has led the investigation. Simonson, who worked as an Oakland police officer while studying for his law degree, has more than 20 years of experience in internal investigations and has represented both accused officers and public agencies trying to fire or discipline them.

According to billing invoices obtained through a California Public Records Act request, Simonson and a colleague — Stephen Chiari — had spent a combined 360 hours on the investigation as of the end of August, billing the city a total of $127,525.

Once the firm’s final report is delivered to the city, Watson said he will review it with the city’s leadership team before determining next steps. He said he recognizes there’s a tremendous public interest in the case but also that the law prohibits him from disclosing most disciplinary actions. The chief said his intent is to make as much of the report’s findings public as the law allows.

“The desire is to be able to tell (the public) as much as we responsibly and appropriately can,” he said.
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Sunday, September 12, 2021

Sheriff's Office Launches Death Investigation After Body Found Near Blue Lake

Posted By on Sun, Sep 12, 2021 at 10:17 AM

The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office has launched a death investigation after man was found dead yesterday near Hatchery Road in blue Lake under "suspicious" circumstances.

According to a press release, deputies were dispatched to the area at about 11:40 a.m. after someone reported finding a deceased male near a trail off the road. The man's identify is being withheld until officials can notify his family of his death.

The Sheriff's Office asks anyone with information about the case to call 445-7251 or its crime tip line at 268-2539.

See the full press release copied below:


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Thursday, September 9, 2021

Sheriff: Police Spent 15 Minutes Using 'De-escalation Techniques' Before Fatal Shooting

Posted By on Thu, Sep 9, 2021 at 5:02 PM

The scene of a police shooting of an unidentified man on Mad River Road. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • The scene of a police shooting of an unidentified man on Mad River Road.
Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said officers had been using de-escalation techniques for 15 minutes with an armed suspect on Mad River Road this morning when he brandished the firearm and was fatally shot.

Flanked by local California Highway Patrol command staff and Arcata Police Chief Brian Ahearn, and standing before a small group of reporters just up the road from where the shooting occurred, Honsal said the multi-agency Critical Incident Response Team investigation remains in its very early stages. He said it’s not currently known how many officers fired their weapons, how many shots were fired during the incident or how many times the suspect was hit.

“We’re not going to release a whole lot of information because we don’t know a whole lot,” Honsal said.

The sheriff said a CHP unit was the first on scene responding to a 911 call reporting a suspicious man with a firearm on Hendon Road near Miller Lane. The officer located a suspect matching the description — a white male adult in his early 30s wearing a leather jacket with a pistol in a holster on his hip — at 11:05 a.m. in the 1000 block of Mad River Road. Additional patrol cars from CHP and the Arcata Police Department also arrived on scene within minutes.

The officers tried “de-escalation techniques," Honsal said, but the man ignored their commands and kept walking down Mad River Road toward Mad River Beach. Multiple people who live along the road told the Journal this morning they saw a slow procession of officers — some walking alongside creeping patrol cars with guns drawn taking cover behind their passenger-side doors, and others in their vehicles — following the man, urging him to drop a briefcase he was caring and follow their commands. But the man reportedly did not comply and kept walking, at times walking backward while talking to the officers, telling them to leave him alone.

This continued for about a quarter-mile, Honsal said, adding that about 15 minutes passed between officers’ first contact with the man and when they shot him. The man was pronounced dead at a local hospital 52 minutes after officers made first contact with him, according to the timeline offered by Honsal.

The shooting was captured on video from both dash-mounted patrol car and body-worn cameras, Honsal said. Officers on scene had less-than-lethal weapons at their disposal, Honsal said, though whether any were used and to what extent is still under investigation.

While early reports today questioned whether the shooting was potentially related to the search for Matthew Dilley, 34, a wanted fugitive who fled deputies earlier in the morning in a high-speed chase before abandoning his car on North Bank Road, Honsal said he does not believe so.

As Honsal spoke, evidence technicians from multiple agencies — including the California Department of Justice — processed the scene of the shooting, which remained cordoned off with yellow tape, for evidence. Inside, a line of police vehicles involved in the incident — two APD patrol cars sandwiched between CHP cars — remained parked in a row, with a flurry of evidence markers and discarded emergency medical debris, sitting about 100 feet in front of the first vehicle.

Under the county’s Critical Incident Response Team protocol, the Sheriff’s Office and the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office are co-leading the investigation, with aid from a variety of local agencies and the DOJ.

Honsal closed the press briefing by noting it had been an “extraordinarily busy” day for his agency, adding he feels there has been an escalation in violence in Humboldt County.

“The violent crime rate continues to go up and up and up,” he said.

Watch a full video of the press conference and find a slideshow of photos from the scene below.


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