Roommate says Macduff had mental crisis before police shot him
Theresa Chapin says she reached out to police for help over the course of five days for her roommate, whom she believed was having a mental breakdown. When they finally responded after an emergency call from a neighbor Wednesday, Jan. 6, he was shot to death.
Chapin is still trying to wrap her head around what happened to her roommate, friend and former partner, Jacob Macduff.
Macduff, 26, was fatally shot by Tigard police officers Jan. 6, after police responded to a call about a domestic disturbance. The details of what happened when police arrived are still murky, but the department noted Saturday, Jan. 9 that five officers were on scene, including a negotiator. The officer who fired his weapon, Gabriel Maldonado, is a 14-year veteran of the Tigard Police Department. Maldonado, along with the other officers on scene, have been placed on paid critical incident leave in accordance with department protocol, pending an investigation into the use of force.
Tigard Police Department said officers made contact with Macduff shortly after 4 p.m. while he sat in a vehicle in the apartment complex off Southwest Hall Boulevard where he and Chapin lived. Police tried to arrest him on a domestic violence charge, but things turned confrontational. Macduff resisted arrest and police opened fire. Macduff died at the scene. Police reported he had a knife.
Chapin said Macduff had recently moved to Oregon with her from Las Vegas to try to enroll in college. He was artistic, enjoyed painting War Hammer figurines and had aspirations of becoming an architect, Chapin said. She said they both hoped Oregon would give him a fresh start and provide better health resources.
The two had previously dated for over a year but were separated when he moved in with her. She said Macduff had been acting erratically for days prior. She said she sought help from police in the form of crisis intervention but was told police would not respond unless someone was in danger.
"The police's exact words to me on the first (calls) were 'we don't wanna poke the bear,'" Chapin recalled. "I begged them to take him to a mental health center and they told us there was nothing they could do unless he hurt me."
She said Macduff was "aggressive at points" but never hit her. "The call was made because he was smashing his head into a wall and I was afraid he'd hurt himself."
Chapin said she believed Macduff was experiencing a "manic episode" that led to the outbursts.
"He was my roommate and I was his only real friend," Chapin said. "He was a good man, very kind-hearted and was just having an episode. When we called for help in the past, we got nothing, no resources, no offer of knowledge to help me help him. (Then) my neighbors call and they murdered him."
The incident has reinvigorated calls for police reform and a shift in police responsibilities.
The night after Macduff's death, protesters took to downtown Tigard, where they marched to the Tigard Police Department building to denounce their killing of Macduff. Their message? "Stop sending police to respond to mental health calls." Once the group arrived at the police headquarters, a few people smashed windows and spray painted the police building. Shortly afterward, police exited the building in riot gear and declared an unlawful assembly, ordering the crowd's dispersal. The agency eventually declared a riot and one person was arrested. A vigil was held for Macduff that same evening.
The police building wasn't the only one damaged. During the march, protesters vandalized downtown businesses, smashing windows and leaving graffiti messages condemning police actions the night prior.
Police addressed the damage during a press conference Friday afternoon, Jan. 8.
Chapin said she doesn't believe Macduff was a threat to police.
"He might argue, but he would never pull out a knife to hurt someone," she said, noting he carried a pocket knife.
Tigard police have not released additional information about the fatal officer-involved shooting. The Washington County Major Crimes Team is investigating the incident. It's unclear how many officers were involved, but none were injured during the incident.
Chapin said she's dismayed by the situation and struggling to understand why police killed Macduff instead of offering mental health services.
Kelsey Anderson, public information officer with Tigard Police Department, declined to comment on the shooting incident, but noted the department has a crisis negotiations unit.
Police later noted a negotiator was on scene that day.
"We also have access to the county's Mental Health Response Team," Anderson noted. "We can call them out to assist us with calls like that."
The Washington County Mental Health Response Team is a duo that consists of "a skilled deputy and immediate intervention with an experienced clinician." The team is part of the Washington County Sheriff's Office. In 2019, MHRT responded to more than 4,800 calls for assistance, according to the Sheriff's Office.
It's unclear whether any mental health resources were utilized when Tigard police responded to the Macduff call Jan. 6.
This story has been updated with new information released Jan. 9.
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