The Sheriff’s Office says the video was created in accordance with a state law, requiring law enforcement agencies to release videos 45 days after a “critical incident” in most cases. On Aug. 15, the Press Democrat reported that Critical Incident Videos, a Vacaville-based company which specializes in creating videos for law enforcement following high-profile incidents, helped make the video.
Critics argue that such videos offer agencies an opportunity to craft a narrative before releasing full, unedited footage. However, by releasing the edited video, the Sheriff’s Office has effectively waived its ability to withhold raw footage on the grounds that releasing it would interfere with an investigation. Multiple news organizations, including the Bohemian, have requested unedited footage of the events leading up to Pelaez-Chavez’s death.
The edited video was published two weeks after a Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed Pelaez-Chavez, a 36-year-old farmworker, on the morning of July 29, hours after law enforcement received several calls from homeowners in the Geyserville area.
One caller told authorities that a man had thrown a rock through a window of their home and then stolen an employee’s truck, dragging the employee 20 feet without injuring him. He drove the car through several fences and left it after crashing. A second nearby homeowner, armed with a gun, told dispatchers that Pelaez-Chavez had been on his property carrying rocks and “asking me to kill him.”
According to the Sheriff’s video, Pelaez-Chavez later took an ATV, crashed it and fled by foot. After pursuing him through the countryside for approximately a mile, two deputies confronted Paleaz-Chavez in a creekbed, where Pelaez-Chavez held two tools—a hammer and a hand tiller—and a rock.
The video shows that, when he leaned down and picked up another rock, deputy Anthony Powers fired a taser at Pelaez-Chavez and, almost simultaneously, the second deputy, Michael Dietrick, shot him three times with a gun from about 10–15 feet away at approximately 10:03am. Pelaez-Chavez was declared dead at 10:29am.
During the final interaction, the Sheriff’s Office’s helicopter can be heard hovering above and, shortly before his death, Pelaez-Chavez raises his arms and yells at the helicopter, reportedly saying in Spanish that the officers want to kill him.