Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:
On Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, an officer involved shooting occurred in Hoopa involving the California Highway Patrol (CHP). The Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) is investigating this incident in conjunction with the California Department of Justice.
This incident update (#2) is to provide a more in-depth release of information.
At approximately 7:30 a.m., a CHP officer with six years of service and a deputy with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) were monitoring traffic in the 12700 block of California State Route 96, south of Legion Way. The law enforcement officers observed a silver Volkswagen Jetta traveling on SR 96 with a broken windshield, a violation of VC 26710. Additionally, the driver was not wearing their occupant restraint, a violation of VC 27315(d), and the vehicle’s lighting equipment was not functioning as required per California Vehicle Code requirement(s). The CHP officer attempted a traffic stop on the vehicle, which failed to yield. The officer pursued the vehicle for approximately a quarter mile onto Mesket Lane, where the vehicle came to a stop at a turnout. The HCSO deputy followed the pursuit from a distance.
Upon coming to a stop, the driver of the vehicle fled on foot down a trail into a nearby residential and wooded area. The CHP officer pursued the man for approximately 200 yards. In the area of Alameda Lane, a violent confrontation occurred between the driver and CHP Officer. The specific details of this confrontation remain under investigation; however, initial evidence indicates the officer deployed a taser during this altercation, striking the man. An officer involved shooting followed and the man sustained multiple gunshot wounds, succumbing to his injuries on scene. The officer sustained serious head injuries and a bite wound as a result of the confrontation and was transported to a local hospital for treatment.
While this was occurring, the HCSO deputy arrived at the vehicle’s location and contacted two adult female occupants. Both women were detained, questioned and released as part of this investigation.
The Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT), led by the Sheriff’s Major Crimes Division and the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office, was activated to investigate this incident.
During their preliminary investigation, investigators determined the decedent did not have any weapons defined by the Department of Justice as “deadly” in his possession at the time of the officer involved shooting.
Under Assembly Bill 1506, all incidents of an officer involved shooting resulting in the death of a civilian armed with specific weapons must be investigated from inception to conclusion by the California Department of Justice’s Police Shooting Investigation Team (CaPSIT). The goal of the CaPSIT program is to produce the most comprehensive, thorough, accurate and timely investigation possible. As a third-party investigator, this team serves to add increased transparency in the officer involved shooting investigation process and ultimately submits its findings to the California Attorney General for review.
HCSO investigators immediately notified the Department of Justice (DOJ) following this incident. The CaPSIT team arrived to begin their investigation at approximately 6 p.m. that evening.
During a search of the Jetta, investigators located a loaded firearm, drug paraphernalia and an open container of alcohol.
A forensic autopsy is currently in the process of being scheduled. Identity confirmation of the decedent will be available for release following the autopsy.
In alignment with Humboldt County CIRT’s transparency protocol, the name of the involved CHP officer and number of rounds fired will be released as soon as it can be done without compromising the integrity of the investigation. Investigators are still in the process of identifying and collecting any available video footage related to this incident. The CHP officer was not equipped with a body worn camera.
This case remains under active investigation by Humboldt County CIRT and the CA DOJ. Upon completion, the CA DOJ will submit their independent report to Attorney General Rob Bonta for review. The CIRT investigation will be turned over to the District Attorney for review.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family of the decedent and the Hoopa Valley Tribe during this difficult time. We appreciate the community’s patience and cooperation as this complex multi-agency investigation continues. The Sheriff’s Office would also like to thank Tribal Chairman Joe Davis, the Hoopa Tribal Council and the Hoopa Valley Tribal Police Department for their invaluable assistance during the initial investigation.