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Santa Rosa releases body cam footage of man’s death after struggle with police officers

After arriving at a residential cul-de-sac last month heavily armed with rifles, Santa Rosa police officers deployed stun guns at least three times, including twice at close range, to subdue a Roseland man who died shortly afterward, according to newly released body-worn camera videos of the fatal confrontation.

The city, on Tuesday, released footage from the body-worn cameras of nine officers who took part in the Nov. 18 encounter with Jordon Pas, who was suspected of firing rounds that struck at least one parked car prior to the arrival of police.

Authorities were called to Peach Court after 1 a.m. by residents who reported hearing gunfire.

The footage provides the most detailed look authorities have allowed to date at the actions of Santa Rosa police officers leading up to Pas’ death. It captures a violent 90-second struggle by multiple officers to subdue the 40-year-old Pas, but it does not reveal how he died.

Almost immediately after the physical struggle ends, officers switch to providing medical care, seeking to turn Pas on his side, the footage shows. Within 30 seconds, they begin talking about a bag of drugs found nearby and share worries he was suffering an overdose.

An autopsy and toxicology investigation remains incomplete, said Sgt. Juan Valencia of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the in-custody death.

Those investigations could be completed by mid-January, Valencia said. Multiple parties are reviewing the incident. Meanwhile, SRPD is investigating whether any of its departmental policies or procedures were violated.

That investigation will not conclude before the Sheriff’s Office completes its probe and the Sonoma County District Attorney determines whether any laws were broken, police officials said.

SRPD’s internal investigation is the first that will be overseen by OIR Group, a Los Angeles law firm, in its new role as the city’s police auditor.

OIR Group attorneys can sit in on internal affairs interviews with officers and have “unfettered access” to camera footage and other documents, SRPD spokesperson Sgt. Chris Mahurin said.

The group was hired the week after Pas’ death, filling a police auditor position that had been vacant for three years. In a brief email after this story initially published, Michael Gennaco, a founding principal partner of the group, said OIR will review the incident after SRPD completes its internal investigation.

Warning: Some readers may find portions of the following video disturbing.

Some audio in the body camera footage published by police Tuesday was redacted under laws governing the confidentiality of medical information and evidence from an ongoing investigation, Mahurin said.

Still, while The Press Democrat previously published bystander footage, the body camera video is of far higher quality and offers multiple perspectives of the incident.

Sometime after 1 a.m. Nov. 18, residents along the Roseland street reported gunshots and a man walking through their neighborhood with a gun.

Footage shows Santa Rosa police officers converging about half a block from Peach Court and approaching on foot. The officers were armed with long guns, at least one shield and appear to have used a drone for reconnaissance.

In later conversations captured in the body camera footage, the commanding officer, Sgt. Matthew Crosbie, a 19-year veteran, says that the team considered itself responding to an “active shooter call.”

Upon arriving in the cul-de-sac they spot a shirtless man, who appears to have a rock in his hand.

Some of the nine officers shout orders for him to drop the rock as they call to each other, asking who has a “less lethal” weapon. One officer said they were there to help him. Officers shouted to deploy stun guns as they coordinated with each other over how to make the arrest.

An officer deployed a stun gun from several feet away, which allowed the remaining officers to converge on Pas.

A stun gun is used on Pas during the scuffle and, moments later, another is pressed against the side of his body for several seconds as the struggle continues.

After Pas is subdued on the ground, an officer advises fellow officers of a bag of drugs on the ground next to Pas. He said it was unclear if it was methamphetamine or fentanyl.

Other officers had to dash to their patrol vehicles to create access for paramedics who had just arrived at the scene.

Footage shows officers tending to Pas, who left a pool of blood on the street.

Exactly how he was injured is unclear. A minute after Pas was placed on his side, an officer checks for a pulse on Pas' neck and says he can’t feel one. He shakes Pas' chest several times.

At 1:39 a.m., an officer rolls Pas onto his back and sprays Narcan into his right nostril before rolling him back to his side, video shows. Narcan is a drug used to counteract opioids. It is ineffective against overdoses from other drugs.

Medics arrived less than a minute later, and one of them asks the officers whether Pas was bleeding "from him hitting the ground."

"I would assume so," one of the officers responded. "It all happened so quick."

Medics then began giving Pas chest compressions.

Mahurin declined to discuss specifics of the incident because it is under investigation by another department.

In general, he said, the department’s stun guns can be deployed in two ways. One way is to shoot a pair of probes that go out and the electric current runs from the device through the probes to the subject. Police can also apply the stun gun directly to someone’s skin.

The latter way is most often used when officers are trying to control someone’s limbs during an arrest, he said. The video shows officers using both techniques on Pas.

Police use of stun guns have resulted in more than 500 deaths since 2010, according to the police fatality database fatalencounters.org.

Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Victoria Fleming, the Public Safety subcommittee’s chair, said she intends to ask Police Chief Ray Navarro to review his department’s policy on stun guns in the coming year.

Fleming said she hoped a subcommittee review of the weapons could lead to the policy being added to the agenda for a City Council meeting.

“This is a big enough matter of the public interest, considering that people live and die as a result of it, that it should go before the full council,” she said. “This is not punitive and this is not in response to a perception the police did anything incorrect. This just brings up that life is fragile and that tasers can contribute to potential risk.”

No one answered the door at Pas’ residence Tuesday afternoon and the family did not respond to requests for comment.

During a Nov. 19 visit by a Press Democrat reporter, a woman who identified herself as Pas’ mother-in-law said his life should not be judged based on the events of the night he died.

“Everybody has good and bad and he definitely had more good,” she said.

Pas was pronounced dead at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital at 2:17 a.m. Nov. 18. But the footage indicates officers had doubts about his survival shortly after he was handcuffed.

In a phone call to Santa Rosa Police Lt. Dan Marincik captured on the video, Sgt. Crosbie said he thinks Pas “might code out,” a medical term for a patient suffering cardiac arrest.

Crosbie also said in the call that police arrived at the scene prepared for a “51-50,” a reference to the California law for the temporary commitment of individuals deemed a danger to themselves or others due to mental illness.

Pas was not holding a firearm when he was confronted by law enforcement, but authorities said they later recovered a gun during a search of the area hours after the encounter.

The gun is a version of an AK-47 assault rifle that has a pistol grip. According to three eyewitnesses, detectives found the weapon on a lawn in the cul-de-sac.

Crosbie and the eight men in his unit were placed on paid administrative leave immediately after the incident. They all returned to work within two weeks, Mahurin said, after an early review to see if there were any clear major violations of law or policy.

Staff writer Matt Pera contributed reporting. You can reach Staff Writer Colin Atagi at colin.atagi@pressdemocrat.com and Staff Writer Andrew Graham at andrew.graham@pressdemocrat.com or 707-526-8667.

Andrew Graham

Business enterprise and investigations, The Press Democrat 

I dig into businesses, utility companies and nonprofits to learn how their actions, or inactions, impact the lives of North Bay residents. I’m looking to dive deep into public utilities, labor struggles and real estate deals. I try to approach my work with the journalism axioms of giving voice to the voiceless, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable in mind.

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