The Eureka Law enforcement Department launched a trove of files on Tuesday related to the fatal officer-included taking pictures of 51-calendar year-old Eureka resident John Karl Sieger on July 23, 2020. The newly released details involves overall body-cam footage, the autopsy report, transcripts or recordings of interviews, transcribed police radio conversation from the incident, added picture/online video evidence as well as all connected investigative reviews.
The release of these files comes soon right after the finalized coroner’s report, the ultimate piece wanted for overview by the Humboldt County District Lawyer Maggie Fleming. Now that EPD’s portion of the investigation is comprehensive, Eureka Law enforcement Main Steve Watson said it was time to launch all related files in the desire of transparency.
“Really what this does is it permits folks to get their possess search at the proof and attract their own conclusions,” Watson explained to the Occasions-Standard on Tuesday night. “That’s a person of the rewards of this amplified transparency and what the law now permits us to do.”
Watson referred to the 2018 passage of SB 1421, which current existing California law to have to have the release of specified police officer personnel data in accordance with the California Public Data Act. This includes “an incident in which the use of force by a peace officer or custodial officer in opposition to a man or woman resulted in dying, or in good bodily injuries.”
“The law does need that we redact a couple of issues and are allowed to redact a few other factors in the desire of privacy. These are things that are not specifically relevant to the incident itself, residence addresses and points like that,” Watson explained.
The introduced information and facts includes a 295-webpage criminal investigation report and a 149-site internal shooting critique. Watson explained the investigation was “very complete and properly-organized” and observed that the taking pictures by itself “to be in just EPD plan realistic, justified and necessary.”
“What it will come down to is the officers experienced no choice in protection of their possess life, the life of their fellow officers and any person else from the general public that could have been in the line of fire,” Watson explained. “I want to emphasize this is not the final result that anyone desired to have come about.”
Watson stated the timeline of activities from when officers to begin with responded to the 2800 block of Lowell Street just immediately after 5 p.m. for the report of a maybe armed male producing suicidal threats up to Sieger’s loss of life.
“They were present at the scene for various hrs. They labored pretty really hard to not push the concern with Mr. Sieger,” Watson said. “They utilized de-escalation practices deliberately, which include time communicate methods and other tools readily available to them. We termed mental overall health crisis counselors to the scene early on trying to communicate with Mr. Sieger to check out to chat them down and get enable.”
After about two hours at the scene, officers saved their length while still keeping the perimeter to the general public. At this level, Watson mentioned the Incident Commander deemed going for walks absent from the problem following officers had carried out “due diligence.” Then 7:49 p.m. officers read three gunshots from the backyard, “confirming that he had a loaded handgun and additional reinforcing that he posed a hazard to himself and some others,” Watson reported.
“At just one point, irrespective of all our attempts he looked more than the fence, immediately at our officers, exited the gate with a handgun in hand and stepped towards the officer, stopped and seemed ideal at them, elevated and pointed the loaded handgun,” Watson stated. “It was a everyday living-or-death predicament. They experienced a split 2nd to act and no a single could ever know Mr. Sieger’s intentions. They get it mistaken, then he fires close to and officers, it’s possible associates of the community could die.”
Officers fired at Sieger “until they perceived the risk had stopped” and he fell to the floor. Watson stated officers moved swiftly to supply initial-aid to Sieger and an ambulance speedily arrived from close to the corner but Sieger died.
“I feel the household has agreed, we have been in near contact, that John Sieger made the decision that he didn’t want to dwell any longer,” Watson reported. “He chose the route of suicide-by-cop to finish his everyday living and it’s unlucky that it took place that way, but I really feel that our officers experienced no acceptable option at that stage when confronted with that threat.”
Reflecting on the state of Sieger’s psychological health and fitness, Watson said the most significant thing for people to remember there are expert services offered 24/7 to help men and women battling with a mental wellbeing disaster.
“Hopefully they have the solve and willingness to access out for that assist, and if you’re a beloved 1, pal or loved ones member of another person that appears to be in disaster, give them your really like and their assistance and try to connect them with these resources,” Watson stated.
“Tragedies like this are heartbreaking, but it is risky to suppose that if only there had been psychological wellbeing remedy or intervention this could have been prevented,” mentioned DHHS Behavioral Health Director Emi Botzler-Rodgers. “Unfortunately, these scenarios usually transpire incredibly swiftly and even if anyone is receiving remedy, specified triggers or the use of prescription drugs or alcohol can escalate to a much more perilous scenario rapidly. Regionally, Behavioral Well being personnel and law enforcement have been partnering for lots of several years and have prevented this form of consequence in more situation than not.”
District Attorney Fleming explained the investigative evaluation need to be comprehensive in the future two months.
“I value EPD’s initiatives to share info about the incident with the community. The establishment and maintenance of self-assurance in legislation enforcement needs transparency,” Fleming mentioned. “This instance and other modern efforts these kinds of as the establishment of a countywide policy on release of police video clip by our business office in collaboration with regulation enforcement in 2018, reveal a good pattern in transparency. As we all request to lessen the use of deadly drive — each by legislation enforcement and in standard — a well-educated neighborhood can deliver especially important contributions to transform for the superior.”
Extra facts and files on the officer-involved shooting can be found through the Transparency Portal at www.ci.eureka.ca.gov/depts/police/transparency_portal__sb_978/default.asp.