EUREKA, Calif. (KIEM) – The Eureka Police Department has released more information, including video and audio recordings, on an officer involved shooting that took place more than a week ago. The shooting resulted in the death of 51-year-old John Sieger.
“I understand that any time you have a major use of force by a police officer especially one resulting in the loss of life the community is going to have concerns and they’re going to have questions as they should. It’s important to me and to the men and women of the Eureka police department that the community understand this is not the outcome that we expected or wanted to happen,” Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson says about the incident.
It all started back on July 23rd, when shortly after 5 pm police responded to John Sieger’s home on the 2800 block of Lowell Street.
Here’s audio from the original 9-1-1 call.
“I’m calling because I have a friend that has been texting me and he is extremely intoxicated. But he is talking very depressed and the last picture he sent me was of a bunch of alcohol and a gun. I’m afraid he is going to take his own life,” the reporting party told the dispatcher.
A mental health crisis negotiation specialist and officers spent nearly 2 hours trying to communicate with Mr. Sieger using de-escalation techniques, such as the 3 T measures: time, talk and tactics.
“There’s a real benefit to bringing in mental health professionals and gaining not only their perspective but allowing them to use their knowledge and expertise to try to communicate with individuals experiencing crisis,” Watson says.
Final contact with Mr. Sieger was made when he exited the backyard of the home and pointed what was later found to be a loaded, 40 caliber semi-automatic glock 22 handgun at officers. Officers on scene opened fire, and within 3 seconds, 4 EPD officers fired 27 rounds. Sieger was quickly transported to St. Joseph Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
All officers involved have tactical communication training and most have crisis intervention and de-escalation training. Some involved have even more experience.
“For instance two are experienced members of the special weapons and tactics team from the tactical side of things as well,” Watson adds.
The five involved officers, 4 of which fired their weapon, were placed on temporary paid administrative leave. All have returned to work as of Monday. This time allows the department to assess the situation and also give officers time to decompress and let the investigative process take place.
“It’s just a pause. Where these things can be accomplished and so in this case by the time we cleared the officers to return to duty it was about 10 days from the time of the incident,” according to Watson.
As far as next steps, a dual investigation is taking place. This includes a criminal investigation headed by the Humboldt County Multi-agency Critical Response team as well as an internal administrative shooting review.
The investigation is still in the early stages, and EPD acknowledges that their understanding of the case may change as additional evidence is collected, analyzed, and reviewed.