Sonoma State University police officer shoots man off-campus
Sonoma County CA May 8 2017
A Sonoma State University police officer shot and wounded a man suspected of involvement in a shooting early Friday morning near downtown Cotati, campus police and Sonoma County Sheriff’s officials said.
The 22-year-old man, who was not identified, underwent surgery for gunshot wounds and was under intensive care at a hospital, Acting SSU Police Chief David Dougherty said in a written statement.
The officer, who was not identified Friday, was assisting Cotati police, when, shortly before 5 a.m., he saw a man he believed to be a suspect in an earlier disturbance and shooting, according to Dougherty and Sonoma County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Crum.
The campus officer fought with the suspect and used his Taser before firing his weapon, Dougherty said in a written statement.
He said the Sheriff’s Office was asked to handle the investigation, in accordance with Sonoma County law enforcement protocol for officer-involved shootings.
The incident began as downtown Cotati’s bars were closing, with reports of numerous fights breaking out in the area, Crum said in a written statement.
Cotati police requested assistance from the campus force, he said. Dougherty said SSU officers routinely assist Cotati police and other law enforcement agencies off campus.
Crum said police officers were dealing with a disturbance near the Cotati Plaza when they were told of a fight between a man and a woman nearby. Four women said that when they tried to break up the fight, the man pulled a gun on one of the women, “pointed it at her head and threatened to kill her if they didn’t leave,” he said.
Shortly afterward, officers heard multiple gunshots in the area, but were unable to locate a victim or suspect. They did, however, find four bullet casings from a handgun, Crum said.
About 4:45 a.m., the SSU officer was in the 100 block of East Cotati Avenue when he saw a man walk out of a creek bed and believed he may have been involved in the Plaza incident, both Crum and Dougherty said.
Crum said the man ran from the officer, who chased him and engaged in a fight. When the officer’s Taser was unsuccessful, Crum said the officer then shot the man twice with his service weapon.
The officer was not injured, Dougherty said.
Dougherty declined to say whether the suspect was armed and whether the officer was alone at the time the two men met, referring questions to the Sheriff’s Office.
Dougherty said it was premature to give the officer’s age or length of service with the university.
Nicolas Grizzle, an SSU spokesman, said he did not believe any students were involved.
Both Grizzle and the Cotati Police Department referred questions to the Sheriff’s Office.
Cotati Police Chief Michael Parish did not return a call.
Throughout Friday, Sheriff’s investigators searched the area where the shooting occurred. In the morning, police closed off two blocks of East Cotati Avenue east of La Plaza at the heart of downtown Cotati.
Sheriff’s investigators canvassed the area, interviewing local residents, and checking grassy lots and yards. Some local residents and merchants said they heard the gunshots early Friday morning.
“We heard gun shots about 4 or 5 in the morning,” said a Charles Street Village resident who asked that her name not be used.
Dylan Toulouse, a bartender at The Tradewinds on Old Redwood Highway just south of La Plaza, said doormen at the bar heard gunshots about 2:15 a.m. He said they shut the bar doors.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Sheriff’s investigations unit at 707-565-2185.