CALL FOR CORONER'S INQUESTS! REGARDING DEATHS IN 2007 of Peter Stewart, Martin Cotton, and James "Hans" Peters


regarding the deaths of




  Three young men dead within three months of each other (2007) in"unexplained and violent deaths."

 Each of these men died in custody of and/or during an interaction with local 'law enforcement' officers.

  In some U.S. cities, every time a person dies in police custody or during contact with police, there is a coroner's inquest. The Humboldt Coroner, District Attorney, and Sheriff, the Hoopa and Eureka police chiefs, & the Eureka City attorney have been at best NEGLIGENT and at worst CORRUPT in their failure to call for coroner’s inquests regarding the deaths of Peter Stewart, Martin Cotton, and James “Hans” Peters. The deaths of Peter Stewart, Martin Cotton, & James "Hans" Peters are quintessential subjects for a coroner's inquest.   The Coroner must hold an inquest if requested to do so by any of the following:

  • District Attorney, Paul Gallegos
  • Sheriff, Gary Philp
  • City Prosecutor
  • City Attorney, Sheryl Schaffner
  • foreman of the Grand Jury
  • a chief of police of a city in Humboldt County



A coroner's inquest is a public & 'official' inquiry into an unexplained, sudden, or violent death, held by a coroner. The purpose is to inquire:

  • who the person who died was,
  • when, where, by what means the person came to his or her death,
  • the circumstances attending the death and
  • to render a verdict according to the evidence offered or arising from the inspection of the body.

  Inquests shall be held with or without a jury, at the coroner's discretion, and SHALL BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. The following are in chronological order.

Peter Stewart

June 4, 2007

On June 3rd, 2007 an ambulance was called to take Peter Stewart back to Sempervirens mental hospital in Eureka. Peter had been released two days earlier and was not stabilized. An ambulance never came. Instead, police came flying into the yard where Peter was; police brandishing weapons and holding a gun to his head. Peter ran into the house. Humboldt Sheriff’s refused to let Peter’s mother close to the house or to her son. During the night, SWAT made comments on their radios about seeing Peter make a sandwich, drink juice, watch TV, and fall asleep. On June 4th officers of the Sheriff’s Dept, Eureka Police, and SWAT began shooting tear gas in the home, 50 rounds of tear gas heard and counted by the entire Hoopa community on their scanners. Peter’s family & others also believed that officers were shooting ammunition with the tear gas. The Sheriff's, EPD, and SWAT stood and watched the house burn up- with Peter in it. Three Hoopa Fire Dept. trucks were in the driveway with firemen, friends of Peter, begging to be allowed to put the fire out-- but the police refused them entry. Peter was found dead, wrapped in wet sheets in the bathtub. After Peter’s body was taken by the coroner, friends looked through the remains of the home and found bullet holes from shots into the home. Peter’s mother was never given the opportunity to speak to her son, nor was any negotiator. Peter Stewart was mentally ill. He’d not committed nor was he accused of any crime. Police apparently claim Peter started the fire! There was not even an article in the local papers...

Martin F. Cotton II 

August 9, 2007

On August 9, 2007, 26 yr old Martin "Fred" Cotton was pepper sprayed and severely beaten by the Eureka Police Department [EPD]in front of the Eureka Rescue Mission. He was then taken to jail. Martin mostly lived on the street and was known to be manic-depressive and schizophrenic. The Eureka officers, Adam Laird, and officers Winkle, Whitmer, Watson, Siipola, Franco, and Baird beat Martin. They pepper-sprayed him, kicked him, beat him with night sticks, and punched him with fists—for up to 20 minutes by many accounts. These officers beat Martin while he was face down on the concrete, his hands underneath him. All witnesses with whom we have spoke, including war veterans, have expressed trauma at watching perhaps the worst beating they've ever seen. After beating him, EPD took Martin to the Humboldt Co. Correctional Facility. There, we believe he was further beat by Sheriff's and possibly also EPD officers. The man next to the cell where Martin died witnessed officers dragging Martin, hooded and handcuffed, into a cell. According to the Sheriff's Dept, Martin died two hours after booking. Bryan Hall, the Mission’s house manager was the only person from the Mission to attend the so-called Town Hall meeting a week after Martin’s death. Bryan defended the police and told a very different story than told to us by other witnesses. Bryan prohibited the other witnesses at the Mission from attending the public meeting to speak. The EPD officer’s names were withheld from the public for over 8 months. Sheriff’s officers who were involved at the jail, are Officers Griggin, Cangas, Christensen, Morgan, Rossiter, and Strong, and possibly others. Sheriff & Coroner have many times drastically changed their theories as to Martin’s in custody death. Both the DA and Coroner currently claim 4 separate possibilities as to how Martin died. That “uncertainty” is precisely the condition to warrant a coroner's inquest!

James Peters ("Hans") 

September 6, 2007

On August 29, 2007, James "Hans" Peters, a Yurok man from Hoopa, 25 yrs old, was brought to St. Joseph's Hospital in Eureka from Humboldt County Correctional Facility. Hans had been in the jail since June 23, 2007. Sheriff jail employees had said that Hans had assaulted a ‘correctional’ officer. Hans had been awaiting transport to Napa State Hospital for a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation. Sheriff's say that Hans hung himself on August 29 in the solitary cell he was in, using torn bedsheets, from a vent on the ceiling. Officers did not inform Hans’ family in Hoopa, and threatened to have them arrested when they came after hearing the news from an anonymous hospital employee. Hans’ mother and relatives were not allowed to see Hans for over 20 hours. On September 6, 2007, Hans died. The family does not believe that Hans hung himself.    

We want the police to publicly testify as to these UNEXPLAINED, SUDDEN, VIOLENT DEATHS!

    Please urge coroner’s inquests to the following. Send phone messages, faxes, emails, letters: Humboldt Coroner, Frank Jager 3012 I Street Eureka, CA 95501 Phone: (707) 445-7242 ext 2   Office of District Attorney 825 5th Street Eureka, CA 95501 Phone: (707) 445-7411 Fax: (707) 445-7416   CA Attorney General, Jerry Brown   Humboldt Sheriff, Gary Philp 826 4th Street Eureka, CA 95501 Phone: (707) 445-7251 Fax: (707) 445-7298   Eureka City Atty, Sheryl Schaffner Eureka City Hall 531 K St. Rm#203 Eureka, CA 95501-1165 Phone: (707)441-4147 Fax: (707) 441-4148   Eureka Chief of Police, Garr Nielsen, Phone: (707)441-4095   Humboldt Grand Jury Phone: (707)476-2475 Fax: (707) 445-7201  

PLEASE put the pressure on!!


Unless you know the facts of a situation, one should not speculate about what you THINK may have happened. Being misinformed only creates rumors.............

From your comment, it seems you would also call for a coroner's inquest.

Patrick Kevin O'Brien  supposedly hung himself inthe Humboldt County jail March 23, 2000 using the handicap handrailing