- SHOTS FIRED DOWNTOWN: One Person Down After Eureka Police Engage in Firefight on Fifth Street; Highway Closed
- CHIEF MILLS: Suspect in Last Night’s Shooting Expected to Survive; Investigators Unclear if He Fired on Officers
- Eureka Police Chief Names the Four Officers Who Opened Fire in Last Week’s Downtown Officer-Involved Shooting
Lee Lasinski looks so small and fragile, you’d think a bullet
to the chest would easily finish him off.
But Lasinski, shot by Eureka police during a chaotic pursuit Dec. 6, was alive and in court nine days later to plead not guilty to the many accusations against him. Lasinski, 26, wore a brace on his left arm and had bandages on his hands. He cried out in pain when he stood up to be advised of the charges. All 15 of them.
During the arraignment Thursday afternoon Judge John Feeney set bail at $860,000. The preliminary hearing was scheduled for Dec. 28.
Charges range from not wearing a seatbelt to attempted carjacking and assault with a firearm. Most counts also include personal use of a firearm, an allegedly stolen semiautomatic pistol.
Feeney appointed the Public Defender’s Office to represent Lasinski, and Deputy Public Defender Owen Tipps entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.
Lasinski was hit by just one of the more than 40 bullets fired by four officers. Although he is charged with brandishing a gun at police and bystanders, police Chief Andrew Mills has said there is no evidence he fired the weapon. In question is whether that was on purpose, or because the gun malfunctioned.
The drama began in late afternoon when a California Highway Patrol officer spotted Lasinski driving in downtown Eureka without a seatbelt. While being tailed by the CHP, he reportedly rolled through the stop sign at Fourth Street and the officer initiated a stop. Lasinski pulled his pickup truck into the motel where he’d been staying, then fled on foot with pistol in hand.
minutes he had jumped into a red Mazda with its doors open and motor
running. That’s when the first shots were fired. Officer Steven
Linfoot, after ordering Lasinski to stop, fired several rounds into
the car. Lasinski sped off in the Mazda, driving the wrong way
on Sixth Street, then jumped out of the car and started walking
again. He was soon confronted by a group of officers who fired more
shots. He eventually collapsed in the street and was taken into
custody. Lasinski was hospitalized and underwent surgery.
He had reportedly believed, mistakenly, that there was an out-of-state warrant for his arrest.
In addition to Linfoot, other EPD officers involved were Detective Ron Harpham and Officers Abraham Jansen and Dustin Nantz.
In September 2014 Linfoot shot and killed Eureka resident Tommy McClain, whose parents sued the officer and the city. Just weeks ago a federal jury found Linfoot did not use excessive or unreasonable force, but decided he was 50 percent negligent in McClain’s death.