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For Immediate Release: April 2, 2012

Fatal Shooting Justified

Santa Rosa, CA (April 2, 2012) - Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch has concluded that the fatal shooting of Pablo Perez Ramirez, 25, of Petaluma, by Sebastopol Police Officer Dennis Colthurst on November 24, 2011, was justified.

District Attorney Ravitch said, “Officer Colthurst acted within the scope of his duties. The use of deadly force was a necessary and appropriate response to the threat that Ramirez posed to Officer Colthurst’s safety.”

Ramirez’s girlfriend of several years had broken up with him in July of 2011. He was very distraught and disillusioned by the breakup and wanted to get back together. He sent her numerous text messages and indicated a desire to kill himself. Text messages sent to others revealed a desire to be shot by the police and to shoot the police. After numerous failed attempts to get in contact with his ex-girlfriend, Ramirez went to the Sebastopol apartment where she was living, armed with a black Taurus Ultra-Lite .38 caliber Special 7-shot revolver on the morning of November 24th. When the ex-girlfriend, who was home by herself, saw that it was Ramirez, she called 9-1-1 and followed the dispatcher’s directions to barricade the door and await the arrival of the police.

Sebastopol police officer Dennis Colthurst, a thirty-one-year law enforcement veteran, was on duty that morning and responded to the 9-1-1 call of a domestic disturbance. He searched for the suspect and encountered Pablo Perez Ramirez standing at the top of a steep and darkened stairwell leading to the front door of the reporting party’s apartment. Officer Colthurst called up to Ramirez asking him to come down and talk with him. Ramirez’s hands were not visible so Officer Colthurst asked Ramirez to show him his hands. Ramirez only showed his left hand stating something that sounded like “I’m not going back,” and kept his right hand hidden from Officer Colthurst’s view.

Officer Colthurst again requested that Ramirez show his hands and Ramirez produced a revolver with his right hand which he pointed directly at Officer Colthurst. Officer Colthurst yelled at Ramirez to drop the gun or he would be shot. Ramirez did not drop or turn the gun away from Officer Colthurst. Officer Colthurst discharged a single shot from his firearm. Ramirez still did not drop the gun and remained standing. Officer Colthurst fired two more times and saw Ramirez lunge backwards. Officer Colthurst immediately called for medical aid. Ramirez was pronounced dead at the scene and an autopsy revealed three gunshot wounds. A single shot which went through Ramirez’s heart and right lung and lodged in his right shoulder was determined to be fatal.

After the shooting, the Sebastopol Police Department invoked the Employee-Involved Fatal Incident Protocol, which was developed by the Sonoma County Law Enforcement Chiefs’ Association. In keeping with protocol, Santa Rosa Police Department and members of the District Attorney’s Office were dispatched to the scene to conduct an independent investigation. They were assisted by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office conducted the legal review of the investigation and has concluded that there is no criminal liability for Officer Dennis Colthurst.


Contact Information

Terry Menshek
Media Coordinator
District Attorney’s Office
County of Sonoma
600 Administration Drive, Room 212 J
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
(707) 565-3098 Work
(707) 565-2762 Work Fax

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