Suit mulled after Clackamas deputy cleared in fatal shooting
A Clackamas County Sheriff's deputy has been cleared in the fatal shooting of a man who fled from police while armed, authorities say.
A grand jury issued a "no true bill" ruling July 15 that cleared Deputy Casey J. Newton in the fatal shooting of Jeremiah Lee Wright on June 7.
The incident began after Deputy Newton attempted to pull over Wright for driving a car without license plates at the intersection of Southeast 129th Avenue and King Road in Happy Valley, according to a report of the grand jury's findings released by the Clackamas District Attorney's Office.
The report says Wright sped away from the attempted traffic stop for just over a mile — reaching speeds of nearly 100 miles per hour and careening through a construction barricade — before hopping the sidewalk and crashing into the Sunnyside Montessori schoolyard fence at Southeast 122nd Avenue and Eagle Glen Drive.
"Just prior to the crash, Wright called a friend to say he was eluding police and stated, 'I'm coming in hot,'" per the report.
Newton then pursued Wright on foot, chasing him southbound on 122nd about 400 paces to the corner of South Timber Valley Drive, according to the report. Suddenly the glare of a streetlight and the deputy's flashlight illuminated a handgun in Wright's hand, the report says.
Wright ignored commands to drop the gun and instead appeared to turn around, causing the deputy to fire five shots into Wright's torso just after 2:13 a.m., according to the report.
Authorities say they later determined the 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol's magazine was damaged; the locking plate, spring and base plate of the mag were found inside the car, along with ammo. The gun was recovered with the trigger depressed, officials wrote, adding that heroin, fentanyl, steroids, methamphetamine, and OxyContin were also found inside the car.
Wright, 44, was a convicted felon and could not legally possess the firearm, which had been stripped of its serial number, prosecutors noted.
Michael Fuller — an attorney hired by Wright's wife, Kayla — said he obtained footage and audio from witnesses that contradicts some of the statements made by authorities. Fuller's witness was never interviewed by the police, he says.
"We were hired solely to investigate, because the family wasn't getting immediate answers from the police," Fuller said in an interview. "Our investigation hasn't yet determined if there was any civil liability."
Newton was hired as a reserve officer by the Molalla Police Department in 2012, and began work as a patrol officer for the Gladstone Police Department the following year. He joined the Clackamas Sheriff's Office in 2015.
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