Conifer woman killed by police in California after high-speed chase

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Driver of vehicle faces murder charge

By Gabrielle Porter

The Golden man accused of driving a car that tried to hit police officers has been charged with the murder of a Conifer woman who was fatally shot by one of the California officers involved in the high-speed chase.

Suspected driver Geoffrey Sims, 34, was arraigned in a San Diego County court last Thursday after the chase that led police officers through El Cajon, Calif., and left 25-year-old Kelsey Rose Hauser dead.

Police reports say that, after they attempted to pull the car over, the driver tried to hit police officers. An officer fired four rounds at the approaching car, striking Hauser and a dog that was on her lap.

Sims has been charged with six felony counts, including murder in Hauser’s death; assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer; resisting an officer; and several driving-related counts. If convicted, he will face 15 years to life in prison, plus an additional three years and eight months, said Tanya Sierra, a spokeswoman for the San Diego County district attorney’s office.

Sims’ bail was set at $2 million, according to Sierra. He is slated to appear again in court Feb. 25 for a readiness hearing, and again on March 21, when a judge will determine whether he should stand trial.

Officer ‘feared for his life’

El Cajon police officers spotted a red 2014 Toyota Yaris that was reported stolen from Denver in the San Diego suburb about 1:25 a.m. Jan. 16. After police tried to pull over the car, which had four occupants, the driver sped away. After the chase reportedly topped 90 mph on a highway, officers cornered the vehicle in a cul-de-sac. According to a report from the El Cajon Police Department, the driver turned the car around and started driving toward officer Samson Pak, a three-year veteran of the department who had left his vehicle.

“This officer, fearing for his life, shot at the suspect vehicle,” the report said. “The suspect vehicle continued and rammed a responding police vehicle.”

Hauser, in the front passenger seat, was struck by bullets. She was taken to an area hospital and later pronounced dead, the report said.

Also struck and killed was a pit bull that had apparently been sitting in Hauser’s lap, the report said.

Hauser’s family, residents of the Conifer area, released the following statement:

“Our family is grieving, and there are no words to express the pain and sorrow we are experiencing following the sudden loss of our daughter Kelsey. We miss her immensely. She was bright and fun-loving. As a young adult, Kelsey had her problems; we did our best to help her work through these and see her fulfill her potential, but those hopes are now gone.

“Through it all, Kelsey was a good person. She had a kind heart, an easy smile, and she never hurt anyone. Kelsey’s passing has left a void in our hearts that can never be filled. We would like to thank all our friends and family who have reached out to us. We are very lucky to have so many people who care about us. At this time, we are busy making arrangements to bring Kelsey home. There will be no further statements on behalf of the family, and we ask to be left in private to mourn our loss.”

Pak was placed on administrative leave, the department’s standard procedure for officers involved in fatal shootings. The leave normally lasts three working days, said El Cajon police Lt. Steve Kirk.

The San Diego DA’s office, which reviews all officer-involved shootings in the county, will investigate, Sierra said. The results will be released to the police department, which then will make them public.

Sierra said such investigations can take months.

“There’s not really a timeline for our investigation of officer-involved shootings,” she said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the El Cajon Police Department also will review the incident, according to the police department’s report

Two other people also were in the car: Todd Zigler, 36, and Brian Blafield, 20, both of El Cajon. Both were initially arrested on suspicion of narcotics possession. Zigler was released without being charged. Blafield was booked in connection with possession of a controlled substance and possession of methamphetamines before posting bail, Sierra said. He is due to appear in court March 16, when the DA’s office will decide what charges to seek.

Lakewood police spokesman Steve Davis said Sims was arrested in Jefferson County last August on a warrant for a burglary charge, Davis said. Sims also faced charges of being in possession of a controlled substance when he was arrested.

Hauser was also wanted on a misdemeanor warrant for failing to appear in a Lakewood municipal court from an earlier shoplifting charge. The warrant was issued in November, Davis said.

The El Cajon Police Department reported 20 officer-involved shootings between 1993 and 2012, according to a DA’s report. The report did not specify whether any of the shootings involved fatalities.

Contact Gabrielle Porter at Gabrielle@evergreenco.com or at 303-350-1042.