Wednesday, 29 March 2023

DA's Office: CHP fatal shooting justified


District Attorney Gary Luck released the five-page report to Lake County News Thursday. In it he outlines the events of Oct. 14 that led CHP officers to shoot Lamar Eugene Francisco Peters.

Elem Tribal Chair Jim Brown said Thursday that the 35-year-old Peters was an Elem Colony member who had been living outside of Lake County for some time.

Luck's report states that at approximately 1:15 p.m. Oct. 14 the CHP issued a be-on-the-lookout broadcast for a suspected drunk driver in a red vehicle, first spotted on Maxwell and Colusa roads going toward Interstate 5. CHP Officer Jim Duron reportedly attempted to stop Peters' Suzuki Samurai, but the report says Peters failed to yield.

Peters then reportedly pulled over on Highway 45 at Colusa Casino & Bingo, where Duron said Peters was partially blocking the southbound lane of traffic. Duron said he used his public address system to tell Peters to clear the roadway. He said he saw Peters look in his side mirror before pulling back onto the highway.

Duron continued using his PA system and at one point Peters stopped again. The officer pulled alongside Peters, got out of his car and stopped at the front of his patrol vehicle, where he told Peters to turn off the ignition and get out of the car.

“Officer Duron said the driver looked at him with a 'dazed' look and appeared to be intoxicated,” the report states. “Officer Duron said the driver took off at a high rate of speed.”

The ensuing pursuit traveled through the Wintun Indian Reservation and the city of Colusa, and onto Highway 20, ending near Sulphur Bank Road in Clearlake Oaks , near the Elem Colony.

Seven CHP officers and supervisors were involved from the Williams and Clear Lake offices; Colusa County Sheriff's deputies continued the pursuit into Lake County.

Pursuing officers said “the suspect vehicle was driving in a reckless manner and on several occasions crossed over the center dividing line and drove in the opposing traffic lanes. On more than one occasion the suspect vehicle was endangering oncoming traffic by driving in their lanes.”

The officers also said Peters threw glass bottles and a bag with a white substance out of the vehicle.

Two CHP officers – Carl Thompson and Greg Baxter -- positioned themselves at Clearlake Oaks' east end. Thompson attempted to lay a spike strip but didn't have enough time. Baxter asked for, and was granted, permission to do a “pursuit intervention technique” - or PIT maneuver - to stop Peters' vehicle. In a PIT maneuver an officer uses the CHP car to bump a suspect vehicle's rear fender, which is meant to send the car into a spin and causing its transmission and engine to lock.

Peters reportedly stopped briefly; when he restarted Sgt. Dave Stark rammed the vehicle.

“After ramming the suspect vehicle, Sergeant Stark’s vehicle came to rest behind the suspect vehicle,” the report states. “Sergeant Stark, believing the pursuit was over, started exiting his vehicle. The suspect vehicle was now surrounded by California Highway Patrol units. Sergeant Stark saw the suspect vehicle accelerating rapidly toward him.”

Peters' vehicle was “ping ponging” off the CHP units. Baxter said he saw Peters back toward Stark, who was exiting his vehicle.

“Officer Baxter fearing for Sergeant Stark’s safety drew and fired his weapon at the suspect,” the report states.

At that point, the vehicle stopped and the officers, weapons drawn, ordered Peters out of the vehicle, according to the report.

“Initially it appeared the suspect was not responding to commands,” the report said. “The suspect exited the vehicle, at which time, officers could see blood on the suspect. The suspect laid on the ground, officers handcuffed the suspect and Officer Garcia and Sergeant Fredrick, emergency medical technicians, began providing aid to the suspect.”

Peters was airlifted to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:30 p.m., the report said.

Two days later, on Oct. 16, Dr. Kelly Arthur of the Sonoma County Coroner’s Office performed an autopsy on Peters, who had been shot five times.

Toxicology tests performed on blood samples the hospital took from Peters showed he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.14. The legal limit for driving is 0.08.

The report's findings

Lt. Dane Hayward, following the Officer-Involved Fatal Incident Protocol, contacted Luck's office to conduct the investigation.

Luck concluded Baxter fired the fatal shot; that he was afraid for his safety and that of Stark; that Baxter had an “honest and reasonable belief that he had to resort to the use of deadly force in order to prevent death or the infliction of great bodily injury upon himself or Sgt Stark”; and that Peters' death resulted from multiple gunshot wounds.

“Based on the investigation, information, statements, and evidence provided there is no indication of any criminal law violation by Officer Baxter and his conduct is criminally justified,” Luck said.

Brown remembers Peters

Elem Colony Chair Jim Brown said he didn't know Peters as a violent man who fought with people.

“I used to coach him in baseball,” said Brown, who noted that he has known Peters for many years.

“He was always the main guy that had the best joke,” he said.

Brown, who had not yet seen Luck's report, said tribal members remain concerned about the shooting's circumstances.


To read the full District Attorney's report, see the related story, "Lake County District Attorney’s Final Report - Lamar Peters case." 

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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