On February 19, 2017 close to 9 pm, Cotati Police Officer Knight spotted a Lexus car parked at the 76 gas station pumps on Gravenstein Highway in Cotati. Officer Knight completed a registration check on the Lexus and determined that the vehicle had false registration tabs and registration expired.
The driver drove away from the station heading west on Gravenstein Highway but Officer Knight activated his emergency lights to pull over the car into a nearby business parking lot. As Knight entered, the driver again accelerated the Lexus spinning out in the lot and drove East running a red light at a high rate of speed. Knight pursued the driver heading south on Old Redwood along with Officer Brian Deaton assisting. The driver has now been identified as Jesse Nielson, 26 years old from Penngrove driving recklessly through the City of Cotati during wet road conditions and endangering the public. At that time Cotati officers terminated the pursuit for public safety.
Officer Knight obtained a video of Nielson from the 76 gas station and began to investigate to discover the Lexus was not registered to Nielson. In April Officer Knight was contacted by a Marin County Sheriff’s Deputy, who was also involved in the pursui, informed Officer Knight that his investigation revealed that Nielson may have been involved in a pursuit with the Cotati Officers. Knight checked a previous booking photograph of Nielson and was positively identified as the responsible driver on the night of February 19, 2017.
Officer Knight obtained a felony arrest warrant for Nielson for evading a Peace Officer with wanton regard for safety. Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Elliot Lee Daum issued a Ramey Warrant with a $100,000 bail which was endorsed for night service.
Officer Knight planned to arrest Nielson when he was away from the car in order to avoid another dangerous pursuit.
On May 2 at 9 p.m. Sonoma County Deputies with the assistance of Cotati Officers went to a home in Penngrove where they believed Nielson was staying. Upon arrival Officer Knight recognized the Lexus that was involved in the pursuit. While officers and deputies were surrounding the home, Nielson fled on foot but was ultimately arrested nearby. Nielson is on Sonoma County Probation for a previous DUI conviction. Nielson was arrested and booked into the Sonoma County Jail for the warrant and violation of probation.
Cotati Police Chief Michael Parish said, “I commend my department personnel for arresting Nielson without further endangering the public. This is smart police work.”
This case is still under investigation. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact Officer Bennett Knight at 707-792-4611.