2.12.2008

TS - No charging decision made in Gundersen case, says DA

No charging decision made in Gundersen case, says DA http://www.times-standard.com/ci_8237889
Thadeus Greenson and Karen Wilkinson/The Times-Standard
Article Launched: 02/12/2008 01:34:22 AM PST

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District Attorney Paul Gallegos said Monday that his office is investigating allegations of spousal rape made against the Blue Lake police chief that span a couple of years, but no charging decisions have been made.
David Gundersen, 53, was arrested Friday night on suspicion of spousal rape by use of an intoxicating or anesthetic substance. He remains in custody awaiting his arraignment, which is expected on Wednesday or Thursday.
”The information we have is this is not a one-time occurrence,” Gallegos said.
Gallegos said his office took on the investigation after receiving a call from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office early Friday. Gundersen was taken into custody after being called to the McKinleyville sheriff's substation in what Gallegos described as a “ruse.”
District Attorney's Office Chief Investigator Mike Hislop said there is always a worry in cases involving domestic allegations that emotions may run high and people may do irrational things. In this case, where Gundersen carries a firearm, Hislop said extra caution was warranted.
Hislop said Gundersen was called Friday night and told the Humboldt County Drug Task Force was going to issue a search warrant in Blue Lake, and officers wanted to meet him at the substation to go over the plan.
”When he drove up and walked in, we put our hands on his shoulder and told him, 'Dave, we're got an arrest warrant for you,'” Hislop said. “We tried our
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best to make sure it was low key, and nobody got hurt, and this was the best way to do it. ... It worked perfectly. He was very cooperative and low key. It was a good plan.”
Gundersen's wife, a Blue Lake police sergeant, has been on leave for several months, Blue Lake City Manager Wiley Buck said. It's unclear whether the circumstances of her leave are work-related, Buck said.
Gundersen is being held on $500,000 bail and is being housed in “an appropriate area” of the jail, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Brenda Godsey said.
Gallegos said after Gundersen was taken into custody, a search warrant was served on his McKinleyville home that led to the seizure of a “lot of stuff.” Gallegos said it is typical to seize computers to search for indications of criminal activity, but wouldn't give specifics as to what was taken from Gundersen's home.
Additional charges and counts are expected to be added, Gallegos said.
For now, the four-person Blue Lake police force is defunct -- with three officers on leave and Gundersen in custody -- and the sheriff's office is handling 911 and emergency calls from the city.
”Essentially, right now, that's who's running our city,” said Blue Lake Mayor Sherman Schapiro.
Godsey said the sheriff's office officially took over that role Monday.
”We got a request from the Blue Lake city manager for additional services,” Godsey said. “Primarily that's going to be our responding to in-progress or emergency calls, and that's going to continue for an unspecified period of time.”
Godsey said she doesn't anticipate the situation causing much of a strain on personnel or resources.
Schapiro said he was first informed of the matter through an e-mail to the Blue Lake City Council around midnight Friday. He said the e-mail stated that Gundersen had been arrested, but the matter didn't appear to be in connection with incidents alleged to have occurred in Blue Lake's city limits.
Monday, Gallegos said that may not be the case.
”There is some reason to believe some of these offenses might have occurred within the city of Blue Lake,” he said.
Schapiro said a staff report aimed at answering residents' questions and providing more information will be on the agenda for tonight's council meeting, but no formal action is being considered at this time.
”We just have to let time progress here, and I think things will sort themselves out,” Schapiro said. “With issues with legal ramifications, you just have to tread lightly, wait for things to happen and follow the procedures that are in place, or suffer the consequences.”
Whether there are additional allegations by other people is part of the investigation, Gallegos said.
The attorney believed to be representing Gundersen, Russell Clanton, was unavailable for comment late Monday.
Prior to becoming Blue Lake's police chief, Gundersen headed up the Trinidad Police Department from 1997 to 1999, said Trinidad Police Chief Ken Thrailkill.
Thadeus Greenson can be reached at 441-0509 or tgreenson@times-standard.com. Karen Wilkinson can be reached at 441-0514 or kwilkinson@times-standard.com