Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Show of support

EPD, other law enforcement turn out to support Zanotti, Douglas

TS EUREKA -- When former Police Chief David Douglas and Lt. Tony Zanotti stood in front of Superior Court Judge John T. Feeney Monday, it was clear they had local law enforcement behind them. Literally.

Nearly 20 uniformed Eureka Police Department officers, including current Chief Garr Nielsen, a host of city staff and representatives from other local law enforcement agencies, showed up at the arraignment to show support for the defendants.

”I proudly support Chief Douglas and Lt. Zanotti,” read a sign held by Mary Kirby, senior administrative assistant to the chief.

A criminal grand jury, convened last month by the District Attorney's Office, handed up indictments of involuntary manslaughter against Zanotti and Douglas for their decision-making roles in the April 2006 shooting death of Cheri Lyn Moore.

Moore, who had a history of mental illness, was shot and killed by Eureka police officers after a two-hour standoff that saw her brandish a flare gun, throw items from her second-story window and threaten to burn down the building.

Neither of the officers who fired the fatal shots were indicted.

There was not an open seat during Monday's brief hearing, which saw the arraignments continued to Feb. 21 after Feeney granted a request by the defense. Several people had to remain outside in the hallway.

Kirby said two EPD officers came to the hearing on their lunch break and the rest were off-duty, but she said the message was the same.

”We all wanted to be here to show our support,” Kirby said.

She said she felt the involuntary manslaughter charges both men are facing were unfounded. Kirby was a member of the negotiating team during the Moore standoff.

”I think it's kind of ridiculous, but I guess the grand jury can do whatever they want, but the truth will come out during the trial,” Kirby said.

Around 1 p.m., the hallway outside the courtroom started to fill up with officers in uniform, who seemed to arrive in pairs. By 1:30 p.m., the hallway was packed with EPD officers, clerical employees, police services officers and other members of the department standing shoulder to shoulder.

When Zanotti and Douglas arrived, the pair was whisked away by a bailiff, and taken through a back entrance into the courtroom. As Douglas and Zanotti filed by the assembled crowd, they received quick pats on the back and brief words of encouragement.

In addition to the host of EPD personnel on hand, there were detectives and deputies from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department, an agent with the Humboldt County Drug Task Force, Humboldt County Probation Department agents and other law enforcement personnel dressed in plain clothes, with their badges on display.

”We're just here to show our support,” said Eureka Police Capt. Murl Harpham, adding that the indictments came as an “absolute” shock to the department.

Nielsen, who sat next to Zanotti during his brief court appearance, agreed that the indictments came as a shock, but said he was pleased with Monday's showing of support.

”I think it's at times like these where it's so important for us to pull together as a unit, as a group and as a law enforcement family,” Nielsen said. “We truly appreciate how difficult it is to make those decisions we have to make in those critical incidents, in those split seconds, that are often times life and death situations. It's a different thing to go back two years later and second guess what was done.”

While Nielsen said the indictments have had a sizable impact on department morale, he said he really worries about the effect the indictments will have on officers acting as decision makers in future incidents.

”My biggest fear, above everything else, is the message this kind of things sends to all my officers that are out there every day,” he said.

After the proceedings, Eureka City Manager David Tyson said the impact of the charges is reverberating beyond the EPD. He said city staff, many of whom have worked closely with Zanotti and Douglas, are concerned for their colleagues, and their friends.

”The Eureka Police Department is part of the city family, and certainly we all work together every day and support one another in our every day work lives, and we were here today to support Lt. Zanotti and former chief Douglas,” Tyson said

He said he is confident the two men will be vindicated once more information becomes available.

”We feel that once that information is presented to the public and there is a full understanding of what took place, these individuals will be found innocent of any charges,” Tyson said.

Chris Durant and Thadeus Greenson The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 12/11/2007 01:27:28 AM PST


  1. I guess that we should start taking the sides of drunk drivers who kill some people in a wreck when they are arraigned,since well,evidence would show that they never intended to kill anyone,and only made a bad decision.
    That's what happened here,officers made a bad decision and should be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

  2. mresquan, you are an ass. The officers were clearly aware of the possible harm that might have resulted from the actions taken. The question is, was it reasonable under the circumstances for the officers to act as they did, given the circumstances known to them and the resources available at the time the decision was made? Unless you have some training in law enforcement and fire suppression, then you are in no position to posit an informed opinion as to whether the officers' actions were reasonable under the circumstances. Remember, they have a positive duty to protect the public and if Ms. Moore presented a credible threat of significant harm to the public then the officers' actions were not just reasonable, but mandated by duty. And btw, your credibility on the issue is impaired, in my opinion, when you compare the officers here to the Gestapo, as you did on another post. That sort of comparison only betrays your ignorance.

  3. The gestapo tactics I may have been referring to come to be because the police and their supporters immediately attacked anyone who questioned their actions.Then,lo and behold not long after the police have a dead teenager at their hands,same circumstance where a better option should have been used.
    Instead of taking the criticism and doing something about it,they brushed off anyone criticizing as being cophaters with an anti-cop agenda.That my friend,is very gestapo like.
    Now if the subsequent deaths never happened,the situation could be different.But do to the fact that this was the first in a line and no real improvements were made(Garr Nielsen is a big improvement,though by default)after,it makes everything more difficult for the officers potentially on trial.

  4. "...they brushed off anyone criticizing as being cophaters with an anti-cop agenda."

    Mr. Konkler, you may have had a point had not the Monday morning quarterbacks not been the same ones on every cop issue year after year. Does the Frank Riggs office trashing/sit-in ring a bell? Crying wolf in every instance of police actions tends to earn one such labels. If it quacks, waddles and hunts bugs in the garden it can safely be categorized as a duck and praising the current chief for nothing more than mouthing platitudes fails to remove you from the duck genre.

  5. And it'll be a big deterrent for the officers on trial.A situation like this is like striking gold for money grubbing,cop hating attorneys all the way down the west coast.They're far more cop hating then anything you've seen here,and these bastards are loaded financially,and have been waiting for a situation exactly like this to jump on.This isn't going to be resolved any time soon.
    Trust me the "cop haters" you've supposedly encountered here are mostly sound people and shouldn't be brushed away and labeled with any agenda just because they question things.
    By brushing us with concerns away,you've potentially opened the door for those loaded with money and with an agenda to come in.

  6. mresquan, calm down and get back on your meds. You might also consider retaking that logic course you flunked out of.

  7. Sighted: Sticker on several progs'SUV bumpers: "QUESTION REALITY".

  8. Here's the thing, mresquan, when you describe law enforcement as "gestapo" you are, whether you realize it or not, invoking a very powerful image. The Gestapo were political enforcers who targeted political enemies of the Third Reich with brutal force, including summary execution, torture, and interment in concentration camps. What you said on 12-5 at 9:17 a.m. was "Kudos to the Grand Jury. This is a clear message sent to law enforcement that citizens and others won't let the police run around like the gestapo when they choose." Doesn't sound to me like you were saying the EPD is like the Gestapo because they brush off criticism. They did not target Ms. Moore because her political views were offensive to the mayor. They were called to the scene because she posed a threat to herself and other members of the community. They have a duty to deal with that situation in the best way they had available. Could it have been done differently? Maybe, I don't know, and you sure as hell don't know. Calling them names isn't helpful and betrays your ignorance of both history and cops.

  9. The people who went on the immediate attack, mresquan, in NO uncertain terms, were Salzman, the Baykeeper-Sterling-Nichols, and Ken Miller. They saw Cheri Moore's tragic death as their ticket to get Gallegos back in office, and they played that card for all it was worth (That and the murderer's mother sitting on the Courthouse steps accusing Dikeman of racism against Native Americans, when her son KILLED a Native American.) Don't ever forget it, or let time color your perception. Any remarks made subsequent to that in defense of the officers and the department who were clearly under a fullscale attack were entirely understandable.

    Do you HONESTLY think those people care one whit about Cheri Moore? Or the native American who was killed? Or even about Kesser?

    No - it was all about the election. And if you don't believe me how they work - read what Lisa LaDeRoute has to say about how they used her, and then didn't have the time of day for her after the election was over.

    That is exactly why this blog exists, mresquan, is to keep that record straight. To make sure that spin doctors don't twist the facts, and to make sure people don't mis-remember them.

  10. mresquan, Rose sais it first and best. I'll just say it last,"YOU ARE AN ASS"

  11. Look, the PL case is going down the tubes, the Henderson case is going to be a mess, there's nothing much else on the horizon, so the Moore case is a godsend to
    PVG and his handlers because it gives them a bloody shirt to wave at their supporters. That's all it is. I do hope we all get a look at the grand jury transcripts, so the
    people of Humboldt can see just how
    this indictment was obtained.

  12. "I'll just say it last,"YOU ARE AN ASS""

    LOL!! Is that supposed to be offensive?
    I guess that it holds true that Rose and I are exact opposite of one another.Some Jackass likes to write that she's a c***.


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