Supplemental bodycam videos add further detail to man’s fatal shooting

The videos were reviewed by Press Democrat reporters and editors, who prepared the individual summaries.|

How we prepared this report

Press Democrat reporters Andrew Graham, Phil Barber, Alana Minkler, Colin Atagi, Nashelly Chavez and investigations editor John D’Anna reviewed the 11 videos and five audio files released by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday afternoon.

The Press Democrat requested access to the raw video footage in the immediate aftermath of the July 29 shooting of farmworker David Pelaez-Chavez by Deputy Michael Dietrick in a remote area of Knight’s Valley.

On Aug. 14, the Sheriff’s Office released a highly edited video containing short excerpts from the body cameras of Dietrick and fellow deputy Anthony Powers. That video, which was prepared by a civilian public relations firm in Vacaville, was criticized by activists as “spin.”

“We are committed to covering all aspects of this story as it continues to unfold,” said Richard Green, executive editor of The Press Democrat. “Our staff will continue to review public documents and will track the related investigation in the weeks ahead.”

In addition to more than three hours of videos from the body-worn cameras of the July 29 pursuit and fatal shooting of a farmworker by two deputies, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s office released nine supplemental videos from other deputies and the Henry 1 helicopter. To see a detailed description of the videos from deputies Michael Dietrick and Anthony Powers, go to PressDemocrat.com. The videos were reviewed by Press Democrat reporters and editors, who prepared the individual summaries. They are listed in the order they appeared in a Dropbox link from the sheriff’s office. The first two videos were from Dietrick and Powers.

Video 3, 25:28 in length, begins at 10:24 a.m.

This video apparently comes from an unidentified sergeant who has been flown into the scene and lowered in a harness with another deputy and Chris Haas, from the Henry 1 crew.

At 2:34 of the video, the sergeant asks, “Both deputies are good?” “Yeah,” Haas replies.

At 3:41, the sergeant asks Dietrick if he needs to take a break and if he’s OK. Dietrick responds, “Yeah, just exhausted.” The sergeant says they have to do his “public safety statement,” then launches into questions. Dietrick confirms there was only one suspect, and points out which directions the shots went: “Mine were three to five, in this direction.”

At the 4 minute mark, the sergeant asks if the suspect had firearms. “No, there was a hatchet, a hammer and then a rock,” responds Dietrick. The deputy asks Dietrick if he has his bodycam running. Dietrick says yes, prompting the deputy to instruct him to keep it on.

Twenty-four seconds later, Powers tells the sergeant, “I did not fire, I had my taser,” asks if he needs to go into it. “Nope,” the deputy says. “I just want to know if you shot or not.”

At 6:30, the sergeant tells the others not to talk.

At 9:46, the deputy asks, “You all right, man?” Dietrick responds, “Yeah, I just feel like I’m going to puke. I’m just (expletive) exhausted.”

At the 18 minute mark, Henry 1 reappears, and the sergeant tells one of the two deputies involved in the shooting to hand over his bodycam and go.

The rest of the video shows Henry 1 picking up people and random conversations about logistics.

At 23:45, someone could be heard describing the events leading up to the pursuit: “He’s been running amok up here; he’s stealing cars and side by sides and at one point he had a rock and threw it inside a window and told another person to kill him.”

The sergeant continues to recount Pelaez-Chavez’s earlier actions: “It started this morning, he parked a random car up here and ran off into the woods with no shoes, and then now he’s going into houses and stealing (expletive) and throwing rocks and breaking people’s windows.”

Video 4, 18:25 in length, begins at 10:27 a.m.

A sheriff official arrives and checks in with several parties, including Dietrick and Powers, as the camera pans the scene.

At 2:10, he says “This is (expletive)” and they begin talking about the difficulty of traversing the rough terrain.

At 3:30, Powers briefly interrupts to tell a sergeant his stun gun is on the ground nearby. The official continues, “We just had no (expletive) clue man. You’re coming off a ravine. You guys are like ‘Where are we?’”

At 4:30, the sergeant tells them to stop talking.

At 8:30, Powers is airlifted from the scene.

At 17:30, Dietrick follows.

Video 5, 25:19 in length, begins at 10:45 a.m.

An additional deputy arrives at the scene of the shooting.

At 3:38, the deputy says, “Hey, shit happens. Tough one.”

At 7:10, the deputy talks into his phone to someone named Joey, presumably in reference to Dietrick: “I don’t know if that’s overstepping your boundaries. Like, he’s OK. I just don’t know Mikey like you do.”

The rest consists of the deputy watching over the prone body of Pelaez-Chavez.

Video 6, 5:40 in length, begins at 10:49 a.m.

A Sheriff’s deputy pulls up to a nearby homeowner’s property and begins to take a brief statement.

At the 37-second mark, the property owner says, “I have a picture of him up on my property with three rocks.”

The man says he spoke to Pelaez-Chavez in Spanish, and the suspect replied in broken English. “I was armed. I came out with my pistol,” he adds. And, “He looked like he was meth’d out. He didn’t know what was going on.”

The deputy then talks to the property caretaker. The landowner provides neighbors’ names and contact information. The audio on most of these segments is redacted, as the witnesses are offering personal information.

Video 7, 1:46 in length, begins at 10:49 a.m.

The footage is from a Sheriff’s official at the scene, and he receives a phone call at the 1:06 mark. He answers with his name and says hello twice, apparently missing a call due to poor reception. A helicopter is heard arriving at the scene.

Video 8, 5:06 in length, begins at 11:40 a.m.

A sheriff’s official is talking to two area residents at an unspecified location away from the shooting scene with a landed helicopter in the background. They appear to be discussing Dietrick’s and Powers’ vehicles parked at the scene.

At 2:10, another Sheriff’s official walks over with Dietrick’s keys. He indicates Santa Rosa police are coming.

At 3:20, there’s a reference to the Department of Justice’s involvement. The first official asks why. Another says “unarmed.”

At 4:00, the residents provide officials rides to their vehicles.

Video 9, 9:28 in length, time stamp not visible.

This tape is from Henry 1 and has no sound. The first 7½ minutes show scans of the terrain as the helicopter flies over apparently searching for the two deputies.

At 7:29 of the video, the camera pans into a clearing where Powers and Dietrick can be seen standing on either size of Pelaez-Chavez’s body. The camera zooms in, and both deputies can be seen putting on rubber gloves. They kneel down, turn Pelaez-Chavez over and begin CPR.

At 8:37, the image is intentionally blurred before the camera zooms out. After another 30 seconds, the camera angle moves as the helicopter appears to turn away from the scene.

Video 10, 30:23 in length, begins at 9:36 a.m.

The video is apparently captured by an unidentified sergeant’s body camera. He is seated in his vehicle for most of the video, which mainly shows his steering wheel and his onboard computer. He monitors the radio traffic from a vantage point high on a ridge before eventually driving slowly off-road into a valley.

At 24:16 of the video, a transmission comes in from Henry 1, the Sheriff’s Office helicopter, which has been hovering over the rugged terrain in search of the two deputies. The radio transmission advises the deputies that he’s found them and “I’m just over the top of you.” Thirteen seconds later, Henry 1 radios dispatch to say, “It looks like two units (Dietrick and Powers) are making contact with the suspect now. In the creekbed.”

At 25:13, Henry 1 advises the dispatcher that “It looks like we have one detained.”

A civilian approaches the sergeant, and as they’re talking, a transmission comes over the radio at 26:28 saying, “Shots fired. Suspect is down, deputies are Code 4. Starting lifesaving measures.” The sergeant replies, “Oh shit.” A few seconds later, Henry 1 replies that he’s going to fly out to pick up a medic and drop him down to the scene.

Video 11, 6:34 in length, begins at 10:40 a.m.

The video shows Powers after he’s been airlifted from the scene to a location nearby with a number of command vehicles. Powers says little in the video, and much of the discussion is around the need to sequester him until he’s formally interviewed by investigators.

How we prepared this report

Press Democrat reporters Andrew Graham, Phil Barber, Alana Minkler, Colin Atagi, Nashelly Chavez and investigations editor John D’Anna reviewed the 11 videos and five audio files released by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday afternoon.

The Press Democrat requested access to the raw video footage in the immediate aftermath of the July 29 shooting of farmworker David Pelaez-Chavez by Deputy Michael Dietrick in a remote area of Knight’s Valley.

On Aug. 14, the Sheriff’s Office released a highly edited video containing short excerpts from the body cameras of Dietrick and fellow deputy Anthony Powers. That video, which was prepared by a civilian public relations firm in Vacaville, was criticized by activists as “spin.”

“We are committed to covering all aspects of this story as it continues to unfold,” said Richard Green, executive editor of The Press Democrat. “Our staff will continue to review public documents and will track the related investigation in the weeks ahead.”

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