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Police Killings in Sonoma County

The following information was compiled by Purple Berets from news accounts and eyewitness testimony, with help from Santa Rosa Copwatch & October 22nd Coalition. (3/12/2001)

9/28/00 Paul Daniel
Died in Sonoma County Jail (Sheriff's Dept.) under mysterious circumstances. The official story: when found on the cell floor by correctional officers, Daniel "became combative and had to be restrained." He was then taken to booking where he began vomiting and died soon after. Inmates tell another story -- that overwhelmingly, inmates inside think Daniel was beaten to death. Whether or not this proves to be true, the fact that the inmates think it's true makes the jail a very dangerous place for inmates and correctional officers alike. The fact that, in the face of an inconclusive autopsy Daniel's brain was sent off for further study, and that correctional officers involved are refusing to cooperate with Santa Rosa police officers investigating the death only raise the suspicion level.

7/19/00 Barry Alan Rogers
Died in Sonoma County Jail (Sheriff's Dept.) after six days of in jail, apparently a suicide. Inmates we interviewed said Barry was distressed and disoriented when he was incarcerated and asked for mental health attention. Soon after he arrived in the jail, Rogers' mother died, which certainly should have alerted jail officials to put him on suicide watch, which was not done. Some jail employees admit Rogers' death was due to a "classification error."

5/4/00 Todd Dieterle
Shot dead by Santa Rosa Police (SRPD) Ofcrs. Robert Rider & Jesse Hanshew & an unnamed Santa Rosa Jr. College Police Ofcr after he allegedly pointed a toy gun at them. Police responded to a 911 dispatcher's report of an armed robbery; the store owner reported he thought the robber only had a toy gun. Dieterle was shot less than 1˝ minutes after police arrived. SRPD Chief Dunbaugh calls the killing a "suicide by cop."

5/4/00 Robert Francisco Camacho
Shot dead by Rohnert Park Ofcr. Dan Marquez & Sgt. Donald Wagner. Police responded to multiple 911 calls reporting gunfire in a mobile home park. Police say Camacho, who was heavily armed, pointed guns at them and opened fire. He was shot 5 times. Sgt. Wagner was named Officer of the Year for the shooting.

4/10/00 Erin McDonald
Shot in her home by Windsor Police Ofcrs. Mark Fuston & Tom Howard (Sheriff's Dept.) responding to a hostage incident. Sheriff's officials say McDonald pointed a toy gun at them and are calling the killing a "suicide by cop." Their explanation of how the incident happened, however, doesn't make sense. Neighbors say deputies fired before entering the house. We also received reports the next day that Sheriff's Dept. employees were patching bullet holes in the front of the house the day after the shooting.

3/19/00 James Curran
Died in handcuffs after Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies responded to an early morning call of a man behaving strangely. Deputies claim they handcuffed Curran in order to prevent him from hurting himself.

1/7/00 Phillip Tony Medina
Died just hours after being moved to a hospital from the Sonoma County Jail (run by the Sheriff's Dept.). Jail officials say Medina died of the flu, but hospital records show that by the time he was admitted Medina already had infection throughout his body and organs were beginning to fail. (For more on Phillip Medina, see Another Jail Inmate Dies.)

3/10/98 Paul Rodrigues
Shot dead by Petaluma Police Ofcr. Roy Loden who was responding to a burglar alarm at the homeless services center. Police claim Rodrigues, who was homeless, came at the officer with a bicycle fork. Loden shot Rodrigues within 2 minutes after arriving on the scene.

3/9/98 Carolyn Telzrow
Died after hanging herself with an article of clothing in her cell in the infirmary of the Sonoma County Jail (Sheriff's Dept.), the second such suicide in less than two weeks. Telzrow, who suffered severe chronic pain from a broken back, told family members the jail doctor withdrew her medication and gave her nothing for the pain.

2/24/98 Drue Harris
Died after hanging himself with an article of clothing in the infirmary of the Sonoma County Jail (Sheriff's Dept.). Jail officials say they had no indication Harris was in distress, but Drue's family and friends say he was crying hysterically on the phone with them in the hours prior to his death. Drue's mom told the jail she was afraid her son was suicidal. The next thing she knew, Drue was dead.

11/19/97 Dale Allen Hughes
Shot dead as he waited for a bus by Santa Rosa Police (SRPD) Ofcr. Gregory Wojcik, who shot within 45 seconds of getting out of his car. Wojcik was also wounded. SRPD claims Hughes opened fire on Ofcr. Wojcik, who then shot back in self-defense. At least 14 shots were fired. Eyewitnesses tell a different story -- that Wojcik was injured by friendly fire from other police, and that Dale Hughes was allowed to bleed out in the street while paramedics took Wojcik to the hospital.

11/3/97 Kenneth Allen Stra
Died in Sonoma County Jail (Sheriff's Dept.) after one day in custody, of undetermined causes. Stra, a heroin addict, was the third inmate to die while in custody or within hours of their release.

10/28/97 John Banks
Died of medical problems within hours of his release from the Sonoma County Jail (Sheriff's Dept.). Banks had spent 5 days in the jail.

6/4/97 Joanne ("Joanie") Holmes
Died in the Sonoma County Jail (Sheriff's Dept.) two days after her arrest on outstanding warrants. Witnesses say Holmes was violently ill from the time she was incarcerated, and that she and other inmates repeatedly asked for medical help. She died, severely dehydrated and without medical attention. (For more on Joanie Holmes, see Prostitution is Not a Capital Crime.)

4/29/97 Kuan Chung Kao
Killed by Rohnert Park Ofcr. Jack Shields with one shot to the chest after police responded to disturbing the peace calls. Police say Kao was waving a stick in a "martial arts manner," and beat on Shield's police car. According to police records, "It was all over in a matter of seconds," -- some 34 seconds from the time Shields arrived until Kao was shot. Investigators found no damage to Shield's car.

2/24/97 Corey Goodwin
Sheriff's Dept. SWAT Team consisting of officers from Sonoma Co. Sheriff, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Petaluma & Cotati police departments responded to a call of a man barricaded in his apartment and shooting randomly into the street. The house exploded into flame when Sheriff's deputies lobbed tear gas into the apartment. Goodwin died in the fire.

2/15/97 Salomón Hernandez
Shot dead with 3 shots by SRPD Ofcr. Goldschlag at Coddingtown Exxon station. Hernandez had forgotten to pay for gas. When he went back to pay, the clerk had already called police. Police say Hernandez attacked the officer with a screwdriver.

1/3/97 Isan Frost
Killed by Sheriff's Dep. Michael Raasch. Frost ran after being stopped by sheriff's deputies, including the same deputy who had beaten him severely in a previous incident. Deputies admit they hit Frost in the chest with a flashlight and that he fell down the embankment into the creek. They claim they assumed he got away. Frost's body was found the next day in Sonoma Creek. Ruled a drowning.

9/6/96 Dustin Harley Clark
Killed after being hog-tied and pepper sprayed by Sheriff's Dep. Joe Quinn after deputies responded to a report of a naked man in the street acting bizarrely. When they arrived Clark was clearly under the influence of drugs and very agitated -- conditions that contra-indicate the use of pepper spray.

8/29/96 Kevin Saunders
Shot dead by SRPD Jesse Rangle responding to a call that Saunders was threatening to kill himself. Police say they shot because they thought Saunders was going for a gun. Saunders was unarmed, and a witness says his hands were raised above his head when he was shot.

1/29/96 Dale Robbins
Shot dead by SRPD Sgt. Jim Carlson inside Santa Rosa police station after he reportedly came at officers with a pipe. Police say they used baton and pepper spray which failed to stop Robbins. The video camera in the station lobby was "off" during the incident. Robbins had had a previous encounter with police and claims he was beaten by them. A Grand Jury investigation criticized both police and District Attorney Mike Mullins for their sloppy investigation of this incident.

4/1/95 James Hopper
Killed by Santa Rosa Police (SRPD) Ofcr. Norm Stevens who responded to a call of a fight between Hopper and his brother. When police arrived, Hopper had left the scene and police pursued in their car. They say Hopper knocked Ofcr. Stevens to the ground, struck him with his fists, and was coming at him with a length of pipe raised over his head. Yet an eyewitness reports he saw police beat another witness to the ground because he refused to go along with the police version of what happened.


© Tanya Brannan, Purple Berets
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