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Trooper was justified in shooting man, DA says

by: SUBMITTED BY THE COLUMBIA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE - St. Helens resident Josiah Fischer was fatally shot May 3 following a high-speed chase. He was forced off the road by two pursuing Oregon State Police troopers at the intersection of Hazen Road and Stone Road. He was shot after he displayed a loaded gun. The fatal shooting of a St. Helens man by an Oregon State Police troooper May 3 was justified under Oregon law, determined Columbia County District Attorney Stephen Atchison.

The troopers involved in the shooting are returning to regular duty this week. Trooper Justin Oxenrider and Robin May had been put on paid administrative leave pending results of the investigation.

Atchison’s finding was forwarded this week to OSP and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, the lead investigating agency, after deciding a grand jury review of the investigation was not necessary.

Atchison said the case was very straightforward; statements from civilian witnesses and other officers were consistent.

“The facts were very clear, and the law was very clear,” Atchison said.

Josiah M. Fischer, 27, was shot after attempting to elude two OSP troopers near U.S. Highway 30. He eventually wrecked in a ditch along Hazen Road near Stone Road in Columbia County.

Trooper Justin Oxenrider told Fischer to show his hands as the trooper approached the vehicle. In response, the St. Helens man held up a loaded black Ruger .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol.

“If it wasn’t exactly pointed at him, it was about to be,” Atchison said, adding that forensic evidence indicated Fischer was turning toward Oxenrider and the trooper said he saw a gun coming at him.

Oxenrider fired nine rounds at Fischer — at least four bullets were recovered from Fischer’s body — fatally injuring him. The second trooper, Robin May, did not fire her weapon.

The troopers performed first aid on Fischer and requested Life Flight. By the time paramedics arrived Fischer was dead.

“We’re grateful our troopers weren’t injured,” said Lt. Gregg Hastings, spokesperson for OSP. “Each day we go out there, we realize these circumstances can occur.”

The agency will look to see what lessons can be learned from the incident, Hastings added.

Oxenrider has been with with OSP for seven years, based out of the St. Helens office. In 2010, he was was recognized for the actions he and Columbia County deputies took to save the life of a 38-year-old farmer who had been seriously injured by an attacking a bull. May, a senior trooper, has been with OSP for 16 years, serving all of those years in the Columbia County area.