District Attorney Ravitch questions Attorney General’s decision not to investigate Pelaez-Chavez shooting by Sonoma County deputy

Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch has written to the California Attorney General asking why his office declined to investigate a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office deputy’s shooting of David Pelaez-Chavez in late July.

Ravitch wrote the letter on Sept. 7, and neither Attorney General Rob Bonta nor anyone from his agency has responded, she told The Press Democrat on Thursday.

Ravitch’s letter adds her voice to those questioning the attorney general’s response under a new state law that gave his office more power to investigate police shootings.

The shooting of Pelaez-Chavez by Deputy Michael Dietrick is being investigated by Santa Rosa Police. They will forward their findings to Ravitch’s office to see if criminal charges should be filed.

The attorney general in August declined to investigate the shooting, even though the law now requires the agency to investigate anytime law enforcement kills a person who is not armed with a deadly weapon.

But the attorney general’s investigator on the incident, named in Ravitch’s letter as Jamin Teague, found that Pelaez-Chavez was armed.

Pelaez Chavez was holding gardening tools, and, according to the Sheriff’s Office, reaching for a rock when Dietrick shot three times and killed him from a distance of 10 to 15 feet.

Ravitch’ letter sought documentation of the decision and further information about how the state agency determined Pelaez-Chavez was armed with a weapon that “might be considered deadly.”

“It would seem that any object in the physical possession of a decedent might qualify as a deadly weapon given the analysis in this matter,” Ravitch wrote, “regardless of whether being used to assault the officer.”

In a brief statement, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office said the agency was “still reviewing” Ravitch’s letter.

For weeks, the state agency‘s press office refused to answer questions about

Read the rest

New rule aims to help California homeowners dropped by insurance companies over wildfire risk

Rita Tanner noted that she did much of what state officials have asked of California homeowners to better fireproof their homes. She and her husband put on a new fire-resistant roof in January and have cleared the defensible space around their home along Calistoga Road in Santa Rosa.

But that wasn’t enough.

She was informed by her insurance carrier a month ago that it was not going to renew the policy she has had for five years, even though she hasn’t filed a claim. Tanner has not been able to find another company that would sign her up even as she worked with an insurance broker.

Her only option has been the state FAIR plan, which is the state’s insurer of last resort. The new premium will cost about $6,000 more than what she is currently paying, and she will also have to get supplemental coverage for circumstances such as theft and liability because the state plan covers only catastrophic losses.

“It’s very frustrating,” Tanner said told The Press Democrat. “We had Cal Fire come out even a couple of years ago, they went through the whole property and they gave us an A-plus (grade) on it.”

Other Sonoma County residents are likely to find themselves in similar situations as carriers read just their risk models and drop consumers, especially those who live in more rural areas like Tanner. That action comes as the county has now gone a full year past a moratorium imposed by state Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, which had prevented carriers from dropping coverage of 164,516 Sonoma County homeowners who were affected by or living close to the 2020 Walbridge and Glass fires.

The state does little to track how many homeowners lose coverage specifically because of wildfire risk, but anecdotally those in the industry say

Read the rest