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Man who died in Santa Rosa police custody identified, sheriff investigating

A man died in Santa Rosa police custody early Thursday after an altercation with officers in which at least one of them shocked him with a stun gun, authorities said, and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.

Before officers arrived at the end of Peach Court, a half-block street in Roseland that ends in a cul-de-sac, residents of the area had called 911 to report a man who was armed with a rifle, yelling and firing shots. The man, who Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Juan Valencia identified as Jordon Pas, 40, of Santa Rosa, was not carrying the rifle when officers arrived.

Pas’ relatives could not immediately be reached for comment.

Residents of the neighborhood told The Press Democrat that immediately before police arrived Pas was seen moving around the neighborhood with a rifle, shouting and firing the gun seemingly at random. One shot put a bullet hole in the hood of a white Honda in Edgar Gudino’s driveway.

It’s not clear where other shots may have landed. Officials said no one was injured by the gunfire.

Like other witnesses interviewed by The Press Democrat, Gudino said Pas had ditched the rifle by the time police arrived on Peach Court. Upon their arrival, police said they saw a man who matched the description 911 callers had given toward the west end of Peach Court.

The man was holding “what appeared to be a large landscaping rock in his hand,” Santa Rosa Police wrote in a news release. Two residents interviewed by The Press Democrat said they saw the man holding a rock, or possibly a brick.

A video taken by a resident and shared with The Press Democrat shows a man moving erratically in the beams of police flashlights and spotlights as officers approach him. In the video, the man goes to his knees after being struck with what appears to be a stun gun. He then collapses face down to the pavement of the cul-de-sac.

Officers say they deployed a stun gun on Pas at least once, Valencia said. Three residents who witnessed the encounter told The Press Democrat they believe the man was hit at least twice. In the video, at least six officers swarm Pas after he is on the ground.

In the video, the officers appear to stop working to restrain Pas around a minute and a half after he first goes down and is swarmed. Pas’ condition at that point is unclear from the video.

This video shows an encounter with police that may be disturbing to some and includes explicit language:

The first 911 caller reported hearing gunshots at about 1:19 a.m., police said. Other callers described a man who they said was shooting.

Pas lived within 2 miles of the area, Valencia said, and police were investigating why and how he got to the cul-de-sac. Residents of the area who saw the encounter said they did not recognize Pas.

The news release by Santa Rosa police said the man had “a medical emergency” shortly after he was handcuffed. The department and the Sheriff’s Office declined to describe the emergency.

“That would be speculation,” Valencia said.

A Santa Rosa police spokesman, Sgt. Chris Mahurin, said authorities “will know more after an autopsy.”

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Coroner Unit will conduct the autopsy, Valencia said.

The Santa Rosa Police Department said its officers “began life-saving medical measures and had emergency medical personnel respond.”

The man was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to the news release. Police said they found a rifle and drugs in the area where the man was detained.

Gudino and two other residents, James Wilkinson and Mike Sommers, said police removed what looked to be an assault rifle from a yard on the east side of the cul-de-sac.

Investigators confirmed that gunshots were fired in the area around the time when 911 callers were reporting a shooter, according to Mahurin. He said he could not elaborate on the evidence that led detectives to that conclusion. Mahurin said investigators did not have enough evidence Thursday to confirm that Pas had been firing a gun.

Valencia said he didn’t know the type of drugs that were found in the area, noting that authorities were “still in the process of documenting" evidence.

All of the officers involved had body-worn cameras on and the Santa Rosa Police Department plans to release video from them, according to the news release.

When asked when 911 call recordings and video from body-worn cameras would be available, Valencia directed a reporter to Santa Rosa Police. Police Lt. Dan Marincik said he could not offer a timeline other than to say the department would comply with Assembly Bill 748, which requires the release of body camera video within 45 days so long as it does not compromise an investigation.

The department on Thursday declined to release the names of the officers. Mahurin said their names would be released early next week.

Valencia said it is standard practice for a separate law enforcement agency to investigate an in-custody death.

“There’s a countywide protocol that if it’s an in-custody death, one of the other agencies resumes the responsibility of investigating for transparency purposes,“ Valencia said.

Investigators on Thursday blocked off about half of a block at the west end of Peach as they interviewed residents.

Police also had taped off the yard of a home on Inglewood, one street to the north. Investigators were combing through the yard of the home Thursday morning and until about midday. A man standing inside his garage drinking a beer told a reporter he did not want to speak and closed the garage door.

Down the street, Robert Muniz, 65, said he heard about a half-dozen loud noises overnight while he was inside his home on Inglewood Drive, a block over from Peach. He also thought they were fireworks, but said when he went outside to see what was happening he “wasn’t seeing any smoke.”

About 10 minutes later, he heard the sound two or three more times, but he never saw the source of it, he said.

Sonja Ellis, 74, two houses west of the one police were investigating, heard seven noises she thought were gunshots.

“I said to myself, ‘It sounds like that was next door.’ I was afraid to move,” she said.

She heard three more bangs about 10 minutes later and they sounded further away.

Staff Writer Colin Atagi contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writers Andrew Graham at 707-526-8667 or andrew.graham@pressdemocrat.com and Matt Pera at matthew.pera@pressdemocrat.com.

Andrew Graham

City of Santa Rosa, The Press Democrat 

As Sonoma County's largest city, Santa Rosas policy, politics, crime, and economy affect the lives of North Bay residents inside city limits and beyond in ways both obvious and unseen. I aim to document those impacts and give voice to city residents.

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