The Napa County Sheriff’s Office has identified the two law enforcement officers involved in the fatal shooting of a suspected pot grower in the hills northwest of Lake Berryessa Wednesday.
The officers — deputy Jeremiah Bohlander of the Napa County Sheriff’s Office and Napa Police officer Pete Piersig — were part of a Napa Special Investigations Bureau team that raided a marijuana operation, sheriff’s Capt. Tracey Stuart said.
In accordance with bureau policy, both officers have been placed on paid administration leave pending an internal investigation into the shooting, Stuart said. The district attorney’s office will also review the incident, she said.
Fresno resident Jose Luis Martinez Chavez, 38, was killed when NSIB agents raided the pot farm. Officers confronted Chavez and 21-year-old Oswaldo Rivera, of Fresno, during the raid and commanded them to halt Stuart said.
“They began yelling commands at the two subjects and the one (Rivera) ran and the other one (Chavez) pulled out a gun and did not drop it and did not run away,” Stuart said.
Chavez brandished a .38-caliber handgun at the agents, according to Stuart. The agents wore green fatigues with patches identifying them as law enforcement, Stuart said. No shots were fired at the agents, she said. Emergency crews were summoned to the area, but could not save the life of Chavez.
The agents located Rivera, taking him into custody on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana and violation of parole.
Whenever a deputy is involved in a shooting, Stuart said, they are placed on paid administrative leave until the Sheriff’s Office determines that the shooting was done in accordance with its policies and the Napa County district attorney’s office clears the deputy of any wrongdoing.
It’s also for the benefit of the deputy, Stuart said.
“It’s a pretty traumatic event. We want to make sure they are physically and mentally OK when they come back to work,” she said.
The last time a Napa County sheriff’s deputy was involved in a shooting was back in December 2005.
On Dec. 19, 2005, Bohlander responded to a report of a man yelling 1:30 a.m. at Gateway Mobile Home Park on Washington Street in Yountville.
Outside one of the trailers, Bohlander encountered 41-year-old Samuel Paul Rodriguez, who was armed with a knife, officials said.
According to reports, Bohlander commanded Rodriguez to drop the knife. When Rodriguez came after Bohlander with the weapon, Bohlander shot him in the chest, killing him.
“The DA’s office, after reviewing the shooting, did find that it was a lawfully-justified shooting,” Stuart said.
Stuart said Bohlander is a deputy “that has taken on the riskier assignments.” He is a member of the department’s SWAT unit and the NSIB, the county’s team of specialized drug officers representing nearly every law enforcement agency in the county.
Stuart said she could not comment on when Bohlander and Piersig could return to duty because of the ongoing investigation into the shooting. ⬀