Slain member of Hells Angels was rules enforcer

AP News
Posted: Oct 17, 2011 7:59 PM
Slain member of Hells Angels was rules enforcer

A high-ranking member of the Hells Angels who was shot and killed at a funeral for another member was an enforcer of club rules who sported a tattoo on his wrist that read "Mr. 187," a reference to the California penal code for homicide.

Steve Martin Tausan, 52, also was a bail bondsman who had served in the Marines and been a professional boxer before he became the second prominent Hells Angels member from Northern California to be gunned down in less than a month.

Tausan was one of 4,000 people at the funeral of Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew, the president of the Hells Angels San Jose chapter who authorities say was slain during a brawl with a rival biker gang in a Nevada casino on Sept. 23.

Tausan was a former member of the San Jose chapter. His sister Karen Tausan said he was the current sergeant at arms of the Santa Cruz chapter who enforces club rules.

In 1999, Steve Tausan was acquitted of murdering another biker at a strip club where he worked as a bouncer. Pettigrew and several other Hells Angels sued police for conducting illegal raids of their homes in search of surveillance video from the attack.

Two dogs were shot and extensive property damage done during the raids.

After Tausan's acquittal, San Jose and Santa Clara County settled the Hells Angels' civil rights lawsuit for $1.8 million. Tausan, meanwhile, settled with the strip club after he filed a lawsuit seeking reimbursement of his legal costs.

Tausan was slain Saturday amid a heavy police presence at the funeral. No arrests have been made.

Well-armed members of the San Jose Police Department were monitoring the funeral at Oak Hill Memorial Park because of rising tensions among motorcycle gangs. The Hells Angels and Vagos have been attacking one another over the past several months, including a violent turf battle over Santa Cruz.

San Jose police didn't return phone calls and emails Monday seeking comment.

Police spokesman Jose Garcia told the San Jose Mercury News that officers could not have been expected to stop the killing.

"Let's suppose we were embedded in there. We can't be next to every individual," he told the newspaper. "There were 4,000 people there."

Garcia also said that by the time police arrived, someone had altered the scene in an attempt to foil the investigation.

The newspaper also published a photo of Tausan with the "Mr. 187" tattoo.

A man answering the phone Monday at Tausan's Bail Bonds declined to comment and did not provide his name.

"It appeared to be a successful business," said attorney Karen Snell, who has represented Tausan, Pettigrew and several other members of the San Jose chapter.

The California attorney general's office said the Hells Angels were formed in 1948 in San Bernardino County.

"Law enforcement has reported an increase in membership in the state among young white males as the older members are retiring," according to the state attorney general's 2010 annual report to the Legislature of organized crime in California.

The report said it expects continued violence between Hells Angels and Vagos, as well as a third rival called the Mongols.