Investigation clears deputy in death of Novato man

A Sonoma County sheriff's deputy who shot and killed a Novato kidnapping suspect at the end of a 20-mile car chase was cleared of any wrongdoing Tuesday.

The Feb. 28 killing of Richard Shreckengaust, 37, by Deputy Brian Parks was ruled justified because officers feared Shreckengaust was reaching for a weapon inside his car when he was shot, District Attorney Jill Ravitch said in a written statement.

"There was no criminal negligence on the part of any other individual causing Mr. Shreckengaust's death, therefore, no criminal charges are warranted," said Ravitch, whose office conducted an investigation along with Santa Rosa police.

The shooting happened after Shreckengaust picked up a 31-year-old woman he knew in Terra Linda with plans to smoke marijuana and talk, according to the statement. Shreckengaust had a long history of using drugs, primarily methamphetamine, the statement said.

The two drove around for several hours and at one point the woman realized she was not free to go. She told police Shreckengaust became incoherent, threatened her and refused to release her, telling her he was driving her north to Bohemian Grove near the Russian River, the statement said.

During the ordeal, the woman was able to send a text message to a friend, who called police.

Deputies spotted Shreckengaust along the way and began a pursuit, flashing lights and running sirens for him to pull over. During the chase, Shreckengaust talked to dispatchers on the woman's cellphone, saying "You guys are going to do whatever you're going to do to me," and referred to the woman was as a "liability now."

He also produced a glass methamphetamine pipe and lighter and smoked it while driving, prosecutors said.

The chase ended at Odd Fellows Park after Shreckengaust crashed the carthrough three metal gates and became stuck in a ditch.

The woman ran out and Shreckengaust, who remained in the driver's seat, was ordered to place his hands outside the car window and open the door from the outside.

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