Jefferson County DA concludes shooting investigation
The Jefferson County District Attorney's Office has released the following report regarding the officer-involved shooting Nov. 2, on U.S. Highway 97, near L Street, in Madras.
"Jefferson County District Attorney Steven F. Leriche announced Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2017, that he has concluded his review of the Oregon State Police and Jefferson County Sheriff's Office officer-involved shooting on Nov. 2, near L street at Highway 97 in Madras. The shooting resulted in serious injury to Christopher James Thomas Sweeney, age 18, of Sunriver.
A full investigation of the incident was conducted by the Central Oregon Major Incident Team comprised of law enforcement agencies from Deschutes and Jefferson Counties. Law enforcement agencies involved in the interagency investigation included Oregon State Police, Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, Deschutes County District Attorney's Office, Bend Police Department, and Redmond Police Department, Madras Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office.
On Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, Sweeney walked away from J Bar J Ranch, where he had been placed in an independent living program after having been paroled from a youth correctional facility for unrelated matters.
Sweeney walked away from the program approximately six hours after arriving. Upon learning of Sweeney's escape, Sweeney's grandparents, who were out of the area, became concerned that he may attempt to burglarize their residence in Deschutes County and asked other family members to check on the residence.
Family members checked the residence and discovered that the residence had been burglarized and two vehicles, a 2007 Toyota Highlander and a 2004 Chevrolet Venture minivan, were missing from the residence. The vehicles were reported stolen on Nov. 2, and both vehicles were spotted by a Deschutes County Sheriff's deputy on Highway 97, near Lava Butte, shortly thereafter.
Officers from the Bend Police Department assisted the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office in an attempt to stop both vehicles. The Toyota Highlander stopped on the Parkway near Robal Road. The driver of the vehicle was taken into custody without incident during a high-risk traffic stop. The driver was identified as Corey Joseph Gallagher. Gallagher was lodged at the Deschutes County Jail for criminal conspiracy, theft in the first degree, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
The Chevrolet Venture continued north on Highway 97, disregarding multiple police attempts to stop the vehicle. Law enforcement successfully deployed spike strips multiple times throughout the pursuit, but the Chevrolet Venture continued northbound on Highway 97 into Jefferson County.
As the pursuit entered Jefferson County, deputy Joseph Aldred joined the pursuit and ultimately took the lead position in the pursuit, followed by Oregon State Police Sgt. John Russo, and other law enforcement personnel.
The minivan continued into Madras, where it lost control at L Street and Highway 97. The investigation revealed that deputy Aldred approached the front of the minivan while Sgt. Russo approached the rear.
Deputy Aldred gave multiple commands to Sweeney, who did not comply. Instead, Sweeney, holding his pistol with both hands, pointed his pistol at deputy Aldred. It appears Sweeney fired his pistol at deputy Aldred. Both deputy Aldred and Sgt. Russo fired upon Sweeney, wounding him. A senior trooper assisted in securing Sweeney on the ground, and then the senior trooper and Sgt. Russo immediately began first aid on Sweeney.
Paramedics arrived after the shooting and transported Sweeney to St. Charles Madras, and from there, Sweeney was transported by Air Life to St. Charles Bend. Sweeney's loaded firearm was recovered at the scene with a damaged bullet casing still in the chamber, indicating a possible malfunction. None of the officers involved in the incident suffered physical injury.
The Central Oregon Major Incident Team is continuing their investigation into possible charges against Sweeney in Jefferson and Deschutes counties. Sweeney is currently recovering at St. Charles Bend.
The district attorney is charged with the duty of reviewing incidents where deadly physical force is used by police to determine if the use of force met the standards required by Oregon law.
Upon review of this incident, the evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that Sgt. Russo and deputy Aldred were justified in using deadly physical force under the circumstances they encountered and it was reasonable for them to believe that their lives and the lives of others were endangered.
District Attorney Leriche thanks the investigating agencies involved with the Central Oregon Major Incident Team for a thorough and detailed investigation of this event."
Any questions about the shooting should be directed to the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office.