Police chief remains on administrative leave but no charges will be filed

No charges will be filed against Sonoma State University Police Chief, Nathan Johnson, who has been on paid administrative leave for three months following a domestic altercation with his step son.

The incident, in which Johnson allegedly used a gun and a power drill to subdue his stepson, took place in Johnson’s Hayward home on May 30.  

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office was in charge of the incident,  and decided not to pursue the matter for any wrongdoing. 

However, there will be an internal investigation conducted to determine Johnson’s future at Sonoma State University.

When deputies arrived at the chief’s home, they found Johnson with a wound to the head supposedly inflicted by his stepson, 20 year-old Elijah Latimer. 

Johnson described the situation as a family conflict that escalated. The two exchanged significant blows. 

According to Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, soon after the violence was over, Johnson called police and reported the incident. Johnson told deputies he fired his personal pistol in the heat of the brawl. 

Johnson said the fight ensued for some time, and after beginning to fear for his own safety, fired a warning shot to potentially deter Latimer and end the fight.

Latimer fled the scene, but was found at a neighbor’s house with what appeared to be stab wounds to the chest. 

Early reports indicated the wounds had been caused by a power drill. Johnson told deputies the fight reached a point where he felt extreme measures were necessary. 

That is when Johnson allegedly used a power drill on Latimer, as a form of self-defense. Whether the drill was on or not is still unclear. 

That night, Latimer was taken to a local hospital and treated for a supposed collapsed lung.

Johnson was treated for his head injury. Although both parties gave different stories regarding how the fight took place, neither pressed charges 

The only witness of the dispute, Latimer’s mother, did not speak to officers and could not be reached for comment. 

“It’s hard to go forward in these situations when you have a witness that is unwilling to cooperate,” said Kelly.

Teresa Drenick of the Alameda County DAs office said the incident was referred to them by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department and that after a full review of the facts presented, the District Attorney’s office declined to file criminal charges.

Sonoma State placed Johnson on paid administrative leave soon after the incident.

“He [Nathan Johnson] is still out on leave.. and the investigation is ongoing,” said Associate Vice President of Sonoma State Human Resources Tammy S. Kenber.  “Due to the sensitivity of the situation, the investigation was being conducted by a third party investigator outside the California State University system.  The investigator was selected collaboratively by Sonoma State Human Resources and the Office of General Counsel at the CSU Chancellor’s Office in Long Beach.”

Acting Chief of Police, David B. Dougherty, said the situation involving Chief Johnson was a confidential, personnel matter and did not wish to comment.

Dougherty replaced Johnson after the incident. 

According to Johnson’s LinkedIn profile, he served the California State Chancellor’s Office for three and-a-half-years as the Systemwide Chief Law Enforcement Officer, where he managed statewide protocols and the critical response team for the entire Cal State system, and had been the Chief of Police at Sonoma State since 1999. 

Neither Johnson nor Latimer could be reached for comment.