56 Dead: Sonoma County’s Kill List
Police killings in Sonoma County, based on reports from the Sonoma County Free Press, compiled with the assistance of Alex Salazar, Irv Sutley and Mary K. Moore.
1. Phillip Tony Medina -48- Died January 7, 2000 – just hours after being moved to a hospital from the Sonoma County Jail. 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.
2. James William Curran –51- Died March 19, 2000 – 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.
3. Erin Colleen McDonald -31- Died April 10, 2000 – after being shot five times by Windsor Police Officers who broke into her home after she had called them for help during a psychotic episode.
4. Todd Eugene Dieterle -37- Died May 4, 2000 – after being fired at 13 times and shot seven times by Santa Rosa Police and the Santa Rosa Junior College Police after they were told that he had robbed a convenience store with a painted plastic squirt gun.
5. Robert Francisco Camacho -35- Died May 4, 2000 – after being shot 5 times outside his home by Rohnert Park Police during an armed battle. His wife had recently sought mental health treatment for her husband but was told he could not be involuntarily committed unless he was a danger to himself or others.
6. Barry Alan Rogers –45- Died July 19, 2000 – in Sonoma County Jail (Sheriff’s Dept.) after six days of in jail, apparently a suicide. Inmates interviewed said that 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.”
7. Paul R. Daniel –51- Died September 28, 2000 – in Sonoma County Jail. The official story: when found on the cell floor by deputies, 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.
8. Carey Steinberg Baron -23- Died April 8, 2001 – in the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility, reportedly by hanging himself with shoelaces in a bathroom. His family stated that he was doing well for the first time in his life and couldn’t think of a reason that he would kill himself.
9. Unidentified Person –Age Unknown- Died July 21, 2001 –in custody. The 2001 – 2002 Sonoma County Grand Jury Critical Incident Report referenced this death, but no trace of this person’s death could be found in local media.
10. Patrick McLoughlin -19- Died October 23, 2001 – when he turned a gun on himself after exchanging gunfire with Petaluma Police following a failed marijuana heist at a Petaluma home.
11. Luis Solario Gonzalez – 23- Died February 28, 2002 – in the back of a Sheriff’s patrol car, in what was determined by the Sheriff- Coroner to be a drug overdose while in custody.
12. Thomas John Connelly -49- Died May 8, 2002 – while in custody in the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility. Connelly was found hanged in his cell with a sheet four days after he was booked at the jail. He was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication.
13. Serena Roxanne Case -32- Died January 16, 2003 – of an apparent drug overdose while in custody. Case was the eighth jail inmate to die in six years, four by suicide and four by drug overdoses.
14. Keith Thompson Suite -42- Died April 8, 2003 – After being in a coma for 10 months following a heart attack suffered as he was being forcibly removed from a cell at the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility.
15. Seth Micah Warde -22- Died July 10, 2003- after being pulled over by CHP officer for speeding. The officer’s report claimed that Warde shot himself in the head with a .38 caliber pistol while in his own car.
16. Anthony Zakharoff -49- Died July 27, 2003 in custody after collapsing at the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility. While he was being booked at the jail, authorities said Zakharoff appeared to need medical help and then stopped breathing. He died soon after at a nearby hospital.
17. Michael William Behring-52- Died November 18, 2003 after being arrested on a warrant by Sheriff’s Deputies. Michael was awaiting booking at the county jail when a nurse recommended that he be taken to the hospital. Authorities said he admitted to ingesting methamphetamine near the time of his arrest. Cause of death was determined to be a drug overdose.
18. Joseph Alan Peay -35- Died September 17, 2004 – after being shot 10 times by a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy (Boustany who also killed Kenneth Hugh Duncan in 2005) and a CHP officer as he placed a loaded handgun in his mouth and shot. He was intoxicated and had been fleeing from a DUI checkpoint.
19. Kenneth Hugh Duncan -62- Died November 11, 2004 – after he was shot nine times by Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputies (Deputy Boustany who also killed Joseph A. Peay in 2004, Deputy Brad James also shot Roger Wayne Anderson in 1999 ) during a standoff, in which he killed his brother-in-law during a psychotic break.
20. April Hanlon -35- Died November 25, 2004 – in front of her home after Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputies claim she shot herself with a shotgun but was also fired upon at 10 times by Deputies because they thought she was shooting at somebody else.
21. Terry Lee Grinner Jr. -30- Died January 28, 2005 – when Rohnert Park Police shot him twice in the back as he attempted to flee on foot after a traffic stop.
22. Carlos Casillas Fernandez -31- Died July 16, 2005 – in his home while having a psychotic episode, after being shot by Santa Rosa Police with Taser stun guns six times, hit with a large amount of pepper spray and put in a neck restraint while getting handcuffed.
23. Donna Gean Welch -48- Died August 21, 2005 in custody. She was booked into jail that night and discovered unconscious in her cell about 48 hours later. Welch, who was homeless, had been placed in the jail’s general holding cells, but on a status requiring medical staff to monitor her condition more frequently due to drug withdrawal. The last medical check was done one hour and 24 minutes before her body was discovered. Jail policy requires guards to perform routine checks on inmates every 30 minutes. Deputies said that although two more interviews with guards have to be done, records gathered by investigators indicate that Welch had been checked “right at the 30 minute mark.”
24. James Anthony Decosta -72- Died October 1, 2005 – when he was shot 27 times and fired upon 42 times after he pointed a loaded handgun at Petaluma Police after a car chase. He was being sought on child molestation warrants.
25. Michael Tolosko Died December 7, 2005 – His mother said he died after being shot with a Taser stun gun and said Sheriff’s Deputies didn’t believe her when she told them her son stopped breathing and ignored her pleas for medical aid. The official cause of death was determined to be Agitated Psychosis, a “condition” commonly associated with Taser use and subsequent death –sometimes called Excited Delirium.
26. James Richard Nace -42- Died December 10, 2005 – when a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy turned his own gun back on him as they attempted to arrest him for possession of marijuana.
27. Moses McDowell -29- Died November 6, 2006 – he was bipolar and was suffering ethanol Withdrawal in the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility.
28. Haki Kuasi Gaidi Thurston -23- Died February 23, 2007 – after being shot 27 times with assault rifles by SRPD Swat team (One of these officers, Sgt. Richard Celli, also killed Richard DeSantis this year). Haki was unarmed and running AWAY from police. Sgt. Richard Celli, Sgt. Stephen Schwartz, Officer John Barr and Officer Brian Boettger.
29. Jeremiah Chass -16- Died March 12, 2007 – at his home after being shot 8 times by Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputies while suffering a mental health crisis, armed only with a pocket knife, and locked in a minivan.
30. Richard Desantis -30- Died April 9, 2007 – in front of his home after being shot twice with a handgun, a rifle and with plastic bullets by Santa Rosa Police, who were told by his wife in a clear and loud voice, that this was a mental health emergency and that her husband was unarmed. Officer Travis Menke, Sgt. Richard Celli, Officer Patricia Mann.
31. Walter L. Heller -55- Died April 22, 2007 – after suffering a brain injury as he fell to the ground in front of his home while unarmed, after being shot twice with Tasers by Petaluma Police Officers. Officers Gary Buffo, Jason Lechleiter and Dustin Rodrigues.
32. Luis Felipe Sanchez -27- Died May 4, 2007 – after being shot seven times by Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputies after they entered the home of his girlfriend and cornered him in a bathroom. Deputies Mike Frank, Greg Myers and Joe Dulworth
33. Richard Lamont Williamson Jr. -54- Died June 17, 2007 – according to the Sheriff’s Department while suffering from withdrawal in the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility.
34. Ryan George -22- Died July 9, 2007 – while suffering from sickle cell anemia in the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility after repeated requests by his family for treatment by his personal physician.
35. Gregorey William Townsley -46- Died September 24, 2007 – according to the Sheriff’s Department while suffering from withdrawal in the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility. Mr. Townsley was a houseless resident of Santa Rosa.
36. Jesse Hamilton -24- Died January 2, 2008 – a mental health client, was shot by Santa Rosa Police who were responding to a mental health crisis call.
37. Samuel Antonio Castillo-Martinez -37- Died March 13, 2008 – in custody at the Sonoma County Honor farm. An autopsy revealed no signs of trauma or other suspicious circumstances, and Sheriff’s officials say that this 37 year old man, in otherwise perfect health, may have died from “cardiac-related natural causes”
38. Heather Smith (Billings) -31- Died March 16, 2008 – after being shot by Rohnert Park Police who were responding to a mental health crisis call.
39. Leobardo Medina Pacheco – 38 – April 21, 2008 succumbed in hospital after found hanging in Sonoma County Jail on April 18.
40. Guy James Fernandez – 42 – November 10, 2008 Taser death at the hands of Rohnert Park Public Safety. According to the Sheriff, Fernandez may have been under the influence of methamphetamine.
41. Craig Von Dohlen -37- December 6, 2008 – shot when confronting Sheriff’s deputies with a rifle
42. Nathan Vaughn -39- December 22, 2008 – Killed by Taser Sheriff’s Department. Had called day before asking to be taken into custody
43. Jon Gerald Moore -44- September 18, 2009 Died in Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility. “No obvious signs of trauma and nothing suspicious.”
44. Teresa Ellen Hagan – 44 – January 22, 2010 – Found hanging in a “padded sobering cell” and later on died in the hospital.
45. Albert Mike Leday, Jr -June 1, 2010- Coddingtown- shot and killed by Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Fuston after high speed chase. 3rd person killed by Fuston. (The DA later exonerated Fuston.)
46. Michael Lee Molgard -34- September 9, 2010 apparently jumped to his death from a high railing in Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility.
47. Nicodemus Sullivan October 31, 2010 – Shot and killed by Sheriff’s Deputies and CHP after cops mistakenly thought he was “ramming” cop cars. 41 shots fired.
48. Brian Leonard Gittings -44- December 5, 2010 – died after he appeared to have trouble breathing at the Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility.
49. William Jackson – 59- April 15, 2011 died after suffering “medical distress” at North County Detention Facility
50. Gary Pickard Jr. – 27- June 26, 2011 – shot twice by Sheriff’s Deputies
51. Pablo Perez Ramirez – 25- November 25, 2011 – pulled a revolver from his waistband and was killed by Sebastopol PD officer
52. Richard Shreckengaust – 37- March 2, 2013 – killed by Sheriff’s Deputies in Guerneville.
53. Neils Conrad -55- April 22, 2013 – found unconscious on the floor of the dorm room bathroom at the North County Detention Facility.
54. Urbano Moreno Morales – 48- June 9, 2013 killed by Windsor Police (Sheriff) after he had killed his ex-girlfriend and charged police.
55. Christopher Eric Augustin -37- October 15, 2013- Man dies after struggle with Santa Rosa Police Department. The man appeared to suffer some kind of medical emergency after police confronted him at the apartment, police officials said. Death is being investigated by Sonoma County Sheriff’s office.
56. Andy Lopez Cruz – 13 – October 22, 2013 – Andy Lopez Cruz was shot by a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy while he walking through an open field carrying a plastic replica of an AK47 in broad daylight, in Santa Rosa.
Jan B. Tucker is a private investigator in Los Angeles and contributing editor to CounterPunch. He can be reached through his website, the Detective’s Diary.