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Retired deputy, West Linn resident permanently disabled by a suspect's gunshot while responding to a 911 call near Milwaukie

On Aug. 6, Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts met with retired CCSO Sgt. Damon Coates and officially rededicated the CCSO Marine Unit Boathouse in Oregon City as the Sgt. Damon Coates Boathouse.

COURTESY PHOTO: CCSO - Clackamas County Sgt. Damon Coates and his wife, Tammy, celebrate the boathouse renaming on the boat ramp.Coates, a resident of West Linn, was permanently disabled by a suspect's gunshot while responding to a 911 call near Milwaukie.

Coates worked in patrol, training and the narcotics unit. The ceremony to rename the boathouse in recognition of his years of service in public safety was kept small due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"Knowing that we haven't forgotten Damon's service and his sacrifice means a lot to him and his family," Roberts said, "and I think it's important for us as an organization to never forget that sacrifice."

COURTESY PHOTO: CCSO  - A group, including Sheriff Craig Roberts (right), gathers Aug. 4 for the renaming of the Sgt. Damon Coates Boathouse.On Jan. 9, 2003, Coates was responding to a call with other deputies in the Milwaukie area. Parents were reporting erratic behavior by their son, 15-year-old Nicholas Teixeira.

Coates was about to search Teixeira when Teixeira produced a stolen gun hidden in a sofa. He shot Coates in the face before being shot by another deputy, Mark Fresh.

Coates retired to devote his life to rehabilitation from a debilitating brain injury. His family has supported him throughout this journey to reclaim as much independence as possible. His home was remodeled to accommodate his new reality.

COURTESY PHOTO: CCSO - A Clackamas County Marine Unit boat is named in Sgt. Damon Coates' honor. "I've met some pretty incredible goals thus far," he said. "It's a miracle I'm even here today, just sitting in the sunshine. I can still look back and see myself sitting in a hospital bed and thinking, 'Boy, will I ever get out of this place? Will I even live?' … I have enough faith in God that I know he's carried me this far for a reason. He's going to carry me further."

COURTESY PHOTO: CCSO - A plaque on the boathouse in Oregon City recognizes Clackamas County Sgt. Damon Coates for his years of service to public safety.Coates has suffered setbacks including pneumonia, seizures and bacterial meningitis, but he has had moments of joy amid the struggle.

In August 2009, the Queen Charlotte Lodge deep-sea fishing resort hosted Coates, his wife, Tammy, and son Jered as they landed coho and chinook salmmon off the coast of British Columbia. Coates also enjoyed exhibiting his 1972 Chevy Rally Nova at car shows; he'd been restoring it when he was shot, and deputies, family and friends helped finish the restoration after the shooting, adding a hand-painted badge and custom plates reading "KODE 4."

The Nova was christened "The Purple Heart," and became a fixture at the World of Speed automotive museum in Wilsonville. In August 2018, Coates sat in the Nova's passenger seat with son Jesse at the wheel and Tammy in the back seat doing burnouts at the Woodburn Dragstrip. Coates did months of specialized therapy to allow him to get in and out of the car.

In a remarkable gesture, in 2013 Coates and Tammy met face-to-face with Nick Teixeira following a state Psychiatric Security Review Board hearing, 10 years after the shooting.

Coates continues to attend CCSO events, including swearing-in ceremonies and his colleagues' retirement parties. In January 2015, he was recognized by county commissioners for his sacrifice as part of National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

In July 2019, CCSO personnel joined Coates at the Oregon State Police Badge Ceremony, where Jered Coates received his OSP badge before heading off to the police academy to carry on his father's legacy of service.

"I'm going to try and impact the community as much as he did," Jered told KPTV last year. "Huge shoes to fill, but if I can do half of what he did, then that's great."

In 2008, five years after the shooting, Coates spoke to reporters at the dedication of a memorial bench in his honor at the Sheriff's Office North Station. A Marine Unit boat also is named in his honor.

The Sheriff's Office would like to thank Architectural Metalcrafters Inc. for creating the new plaque affixed to the boathouse.


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