Grand jury clears Oregon officer who fatally shot knife-wielding suspect – now it’s time for him to sue

TIGARD, OR – A former Tigard Police officer that was under investigation for a fatal officer-involved shooting from back in January will not be facing charges in connection with the incident, after a grand jury declined to indict the former officer earlier in September.

On January 6th, former Tigard Police Officer Gabriel Maldonado had been among those to respond to a reported domestic disturbance at Southwest Hall Boulevard and Bonita Road.

Upon arrival at the scene, officers encountered 26-year-old Jacob Macduff, who was locked inside of his truck and armed with a knife.

After responding officers tried to talk Macduff out of his vehicle, a decision was made to forcibly remove Macduff from the vehicle. A struggle reportedly ensued, and Officer Maldonado opened fire on Macduff during the struggle, as the now-deceased suspect had apparently refused to drop the knife he was armed with at the time.

Macduff’s mother, Maria, proclaimed that in the days leading up to the fatal incident that her son was experiencing issues akin to bipolar disorder and that he was allegedly evolving “into an acute psychotic state.”

Following the shooting, Officer Maldonado was placed on administrative leave while an investigation was conducted. Prior to the fatal shooting, Officer Maldonado was also in the midst of being onboarded to the Port of Portland Police.

However, the onboarding process for Port of Portland Police was placed on hold, as the police department wanted the investigation into the shooting to be cleared before hiring Officer Maldonado.

Yet, for reasons that are unclear, Officer Maldonado resumed duty with the Tigard Police Department in March and in that transition, the Port of Portland Police were erroneously informed that the investigation into the shooting was complete.

However, it was not.

Still, Officer Maldonado resigned from the Tigard Police Department on April 15th and started with the Port of Portland Police four days after that resignation.

Once Port of Portland Police realized that the investigation into the incident was still ongoing, Officer Maldonado was placed on leave from his new department and eventually fired.

Outside of the unusual circumstances regarding Officer Maldonado’s employment status at the time, the Washington County Major Crimes Team were leading the investigation into the shooting. Yet, on May 3rd, Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton requested the Oregon attorney general’s office to take over the case.

Earlier in September, two assistant attorneys general presented the findings of the investigation to a Washington County grand jury. Come September 15th, the grand jury declined to indict the former officer for any criminal charges related to the fatal shooting of Macduff.

In a statement pertaining to the grand jury’s decision on the case, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum acknowledged that the shooting was “tragic” but also expressed satisfaction that the grand jury found “insufficient evidence” to charge the former police officer:

“This was a very tragic situation resulting in the death by a police officer of an allegedly mentally unwell person. However, I am satisfied with the Washington County grand jury’s conclusion that there is insufficient evidence to warrant criminal charges being brought against Officer Maldonado.”

An attorney representing Maria Macduff filed a tort claim notice against the city of Tigard back in April in order to afford the family’s ability to file suit against the city over the fatal shooting. As of this writing, no lawsuit has been filed regarding the matter.

The Tigard Police Department stated following the grand jury’s decision that they will conduct an internal review of the incident, utilizing a use of force board consisting of five people not directly involved in the January shooting.

It’s unclear what sort of ramifications could arise depending on the use of force board’s finding, as Maldonado is no longer employed with the Tigard Police Department since his resignation in April.

It is also unclear whether Port of Portland will reconsider onboarding him to the force following the strange circumstances of his hiring and eventual firing.

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Vindicated! Texas officer cleared by grand jury after shooting wanted felon who pointed gun at him

(Originally published September 4th, 2021)

HOUSTON, TX – A Galveston County grand jury has refused to indict La Marque police officer Jose Santos for fatally shooting a man who pointed a gun at him while running away last year.

In December 2020, 22-year-old Joshua Feast was a suspect in multiple shootings and had arrest warrants for felony evading and felon in possession of a firearm.  The police had tracked him to a residence on Pirtle Street on the night of December 9.

Officers called Officer Santos to the scene to identify Feast before attempting to make an arrest.

As Feast arrived around 11 p.m., Officer Santos observed him leaning into the passenger side of a vehicle.

Body camera video released by police shows Officer Santos arriving on the scene. As he pulls up, Feast can be seen running across the road in front of the officer’s patrol vehicle.

Officer Santos exited his patrol vehicle and drew his weapon. Feast continued to run when Officer Santos fired one shot, striking Feast in the back.

Officer Santos caught up to Feast and observed him laying on the ground wounded in a driveway of a residence. He immediately requested backup units and medics.

Officer Santos radioed:

“First unit to get here, I need you to recover the gun. He dropped it just outside of a Dodge Charger.

“It is somewhere on the ground. He pulled out of his waistband.”

He then asked his back up to “step it up” to the scene as a crowd of people formed and started screaming and shouting at the officer, clearly upset that Feast was shot.

Feast later died of his wound at a local hospital.

At a news conference Tuesday, Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady said the shooting was justified:

“I believe the evidence supports that it was justified. And I believe that the decision that the grand jury made today was correct and just.”

Galveston County Sheriff’s Lt. Mel Villareal went through the body camera video explaining the reasoning for the decision. In the video, although difficult to make out, Feast can be seen holding a gun as he runs.

The Sheriff explained that, even if Feast did not mean to aim the gun at the officer, it still posed a deadly threat:

“The hand that held the firearm that officer Santos had already seen was now raised again and pointing in his direction.”

At the 30 second mark on the video, the gun can be clearly seen falling to the ground from Feast’s hand.

Officers located a loaded 9mm Taurus pistol at the scene. A loaded Smith & Wesson Springfield .45-caliber handgun fell from his clothing in the ambulance.

When civil rights attorney Ben Crump released findings of an independent autopsy showing Feast was shot in the back, civil unrest and protests followed.

Crump, who is representing the family, called for Officer Santos to be fired.  The attorney claimed that Feast was defenseless when he was shot:

“He was a defenseless man who was running away.

“There was no reason for [Santos] to shoot and kill this young man, who had only turned 22 three weeks ago.”

After the grand jury ruling was announced, Crump called the decision “devastating” to the family and community. He also said Officer Santos had a “history of brutality,” because of a 2013 lawsuit filed against him claiming he used excessive force while working for the Galveston Police Department.

“It is a disturbing failure of the La Marque Police Department that Santos was allowed to join their ranks.”

The lawsuit was dismissed by United States Magistrate Judge John R. Froeschner. The judge wrote in his decision:

“Since it is clear that any alleged use of excessive force occurred during Davis’ arrest and not during any subsequent pretrial detainment, his only remedy is under the Fourth Amendment… No amount of discovery will support Davis’ claim under the Fourteenth Amendment.”

The weekend following the shooting, dozens of demonstrators marched from a local food market to the steps of La Marque City Hall. Protesters also demanded the firing of La Marque Police Chief Kirk Jackson along with Officer Santos.

District Attorney Roady cited the intense community interest in the case as the reason for the press conference following the grand jury decision:

“This was a high-profile shooting; it drew a lot of scrutiny and public attention. And we wanted to make sure that at the end of this investigation, we provided the public with as much information as we could by law provide you and answer any questions as much as we can…

“So that the public can have confidence that the investigation was thorough and just, and the right result happened.”

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The post Grand jury clears Oregon officer who fatally shot knife-wielding suspect – now it’s time for him to sue appeared first on Law Enforcement Today.

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Author: Gregory Hoyt

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