YouTube engineer pleads no contest in LSD-fueled rampage in Bodega Bay


A YouTube engineer who authorities said took four tabs of LSD and went on a bizarre rampage in Bodega Bay last year cut a deal to avoid prosecution on attempted murder charges, pleading no contest to six counts of assault with a deadly weapon and stealing a security truck.

Betai Koffi, a 33-year-old San Francisco resident, entered his plea Wednesday in Sonoma County Superior Court just days before his preliminary hearing was set to begin. Koffi will be sentenced in February and remains severely injured after a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy ended last year’s Fourth of July frenzy, shooting Koffi, who was behind the wheel of a stolen security truck, three times.

Koffi is paralyzed on his left side with limited use of his arm and is undergoing physical therapy to regain his movement and speech, his attorney Stephen Gallenson told The Chronicle.

“He feels terrible about it and he’s remorseful about the harm he caused to others and it’s affected his life significantly,” Gallenson said. “He’s taking responsibility and wants to move forward with his life. … Fortunately, no one except for him was hurt badly.”

Koffi had been charged with 11 felonies. There is no agreed prison term, Gallenson said, and a judge will sentence his client in February.

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The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office did not respond to requests for comment.

Koffi had rented a house in a Bodega Bay golf community in the 500 block of Swan Drive last year. Around noon, he took two tabs of LSD with five friends, started acting strange and swallowed two more tabs, police said. His friends tried to stop him from leaving the house that night and he went berserk, punching a woman twice, stabbing a man with a pencil, choking another friend and punching yet another in the face, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said at the time.

After getting into his rental car, Koffi hit a parked car and swerved toward a friend before crashing into the rental home’s garage, authorities said. He then ran off down a hill toward the beach.

The friends called 911.

“We’re really worried that he’s gonna like jump off something, kill himself,” a friend said in the 911 call released by the Sheriff’s Office.

“He said he thought he was already dead,” the friend told the Sonoma County sheriff’s dispatcher. “And that nothing mattered but we thought it was just, you know, drugs talking at the time.”

In shorts, a T-shirt and bare feet, Koffi walked up the driveway of a neighboring house and was captured on home surveillance video, which was released by the Sheriff’s Office.

He cursed at and confronted a responding security guard, telling him, “Yeah, do whatever you gotta do.”

The video showed Koffi walking away and picking up a homeowner’s landscaping light as the guard followed him. Nearly out of view, Koffi attacked the guard with the light.

“Help, code 30! Officer down! He’s taking off in our patrol vehicle,” the guard was heard yelling, in the video.

Koffi drove the stolen truck west on Pelican Loop and at high speeds hit a man and two women who were walking along the road. The two hit-and-runs were captured on home surveillance footage shared by the Sheriff’s Office. All three victims had non-life-threatening injuries.

Koffi eventually lost control of the truck, crashed into a wall and drove through a side yard before returning to Pelican Loop where a CHP officer and Deputy Jason Pasero confronted him.

Pasero’s body cam video activated just as he pulled up in his police truck to Koffi, who was turning the stolen truck around. A CHP vehicle pulled alongside the deputy to block the roadway.

Pasero yelled twice for Koffi to stop and fired at least seven times at the truck. After a moment, the deputy fired three more rounds. Gallenson said his client was shot three times, at least once in the head.

In the video, Pasero checked on a bloodied Koffi in the driver’s seat.

“He’s down, dude,” the deputy yelled to the CHP officer. “He’s still breathing. … I shot him multiple times, dude.”

The video showed Pasero pulling the limp Koffi from the driver’s seat to the asphalt road, as Koffi slowly moved around.

As Pasero handcuffed Koffi, a CHP officer asked whether Koffi had a gun.

“No, he tried to ram us with a car, dude,” Pasero said.

“Please kill me. Please kill me,” Koffi can be heard mumbling multiple times, bleeding heavily.

Koffi woke from a coma weeks after the shooting. After leaving the hospital, Gallenson said, he was released on his own recognizance and has returned to working at YouTube. He previously worked for Microsoft and holds a master’s degree from Stanford University, according to his LinkedIn profile, and he’s a native of the Los Angeles area, according to his Facebook profile.

“I think everyone involved with this case recognized it’s just a really sad case,” Gallenson said.

Matthias Gafni is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: matthias.gafni@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @mgafni





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