On Friday, September 11, 2015 an autopsy was performed by a forensic pathologist and it was determined that Richard Kelly died from a gunshot wound to his body. The name of the officer involved in this critical incident is Sergeant Seth Ruiz of the Hoopa Valley Tribal Police Department. Sergeant Ruiz has worked for the Hoopa Tribal Police Department for approximately 7 years. Sergeant Ruiz remains on paid administrative leave while the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) conducts their investigation.
On Friday, September 04, 2015 at about 7:30 p.m. Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputies contacted a 39 year old male gunshot victim in front of the Rays Food Place in Hoopa. The victim told the deputies he was shot in the leg by 27 year old, Richard Keith Kelley. The victim said he confronted Kelley, because Kelley was driving a vehicle that belonged to him. The victim said after Kelley shot him he stole his motorcycle that the victim had driven to Rays Food Place. The victim’s gunshot wound was not life threating.
At about 8:30 p.m. a Hoopa Tribal Police Department Officer saw the suspect and stolen motorcycle traveling north bound on Highway 96, in the Hoopa area. The Officer then attempted a felony traffic enforcement stop on the motorcycle, but the driver refused to pull over. The Officer then pursed the motorcycle northbound on Highway 96 until it reached the Weitchpec Bridge in Weitchpec. The driver of the motorcycle then lost control of the motorcycle and crashed on Highway 96 just north of the Highway 169 intersection.
The driver of the motorcycle later identified as Richard Keith Kelley then immediately started firing multiple gunshots at the officer. Some of the bullets fired by Kelley struck the officers patrol vehicle. The officer then fired gunshots towards Kelley with his duty weapon in self-defense of his life. Kelley was struck by rounds fired by the Tribal Police Officer and was later pronounced deceased at the scene by medical personnel. The Tribal Officer was not injured in the exchange of gunshots.
Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) was activated and responded to the scene investigate the officer involved shooting. Members of the CIRT who responded included the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office, Humboldt State University Police Department, Eureka Police Department and the Fortuna Police Department.
The Tribal Police Department Officer has been placed on paid Administrative leave until CIRT completes their investigation. An autopsy has been scheduled for Kelley on Friday, September 18, 2015 in Eureka.
Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.
Mike Downey, Sheriff