AMERICAN CANYON — A motorist was shot dead late Friday night in American Canyon in a police-involved shooting after a chase that concluded at the end of a quiet residential street on the eastern edge of the city, according to the Napa County Sheriff’s Office. The incident is believed to be the first fatal police-involved shooting in American Canyon since the city incorporated in 1992.
At 10:03 p.m., officers tried to stop the driver of a white pickup truck, leading to a short pursuit that ended on Newell Drive, sheriff’s Capt. Tracey Stuart said in a press release early Saturday morning. No police officers were injured in the incident that occurred on the dead-end street, a few blocks north of American Canyon High School.
The motorist, who was alone in the truck, was declared dead at the scene, Stuart said. As of Saturday afternoon, the dead man had not been identified.
Stuart did not say how many police officers were involved in the shooting, but three American Canyon Police cruisers, including a K-9 patrol vehicle, were left behind the yellow-taped scene on Saturday. A few feet away, a white pickup was stopped on a mound, facing the wall of a residential backyard. Newell Drive ends at that spot, trailing off into a barricaded path of crushed rock.
Neither longtime American Canyon city attorney Bill Ross nor Mayor Leon Garcia could recall another police-involved shooting since the city’s incorporation more than two decades ago. However, county Supervisor Keith Caldwell, the former American Canyon fire chief, recalled a law enforcement-involved shooting years ago off Flosden Drive that left a man paralyzed.
And in February 2011, two American Canyon officers were among 10 law enforcement personnel involved in a fatal shooting of a robbery suspect on Corcoran Street in Vallejo.
The city of American Canyon contracts with the Napa County Sheriff’s Office for police services. The officers involved in Friday night’s incident will be paid on administrative leave according to protocol of the Napa County Sheriff’s Office, Stuart said.
Napa County’s Major Crimes Task Force will investigate the incident. The task force includes members of the Sheriff’s Office, Calistoga and Napa police departments, and the Napa County District Attorney’s Office, Stuart said.
On Friday night, officers from American Canyon police, Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol converged on the north end of Newell Drive after receiving reports of the incident within five minutes of the attempted stop. By midnight, at least a half-dozen patrol vehicles, including a sheriff’s canine unit SUV, remained stationed outside and past the Newell Drive-Donaldson Way East intersection.
More than an hour after the pursuit, a city policeman escorted a woman, who was not handcuffed, from beyond the crime tape into a patrol car that drove off.
Residents inside the Vintage Ranch subdivision said they heard shots before the sirens sounded.
On Cantada Court, which ends in a cul-de-sac, Brian Bennett and his wife, City Councilwoman Belia Bennett Ramos, were home Friday night, talking with Belia’s brother, when they heard the shots.
“We heard like a ‘pow’ and then ‘pow, pow, pow.’ We didn’t count them,” said Brian Bennett on Saturday. “We were just talking around the table. We kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Is it what I think it is?’
“It’s very scary,” he said.