Report: Officer feared for life during fatal Tigard shooting
Investigative records released by the Washington County District's Attorney Office conclude that a Tigard police officer who shot and killed a man at an apartment complex Jan. 6 feared for his life after he found himself in a tight space with the man, whom he said was brandishing a knife.
The records also confirm that the man who died, Jacob Ryan Macduff, had dealt with mental issues for an extended period of time, he was off his medication the week of his death, and that a roommate fearful of Macduff's behavior was told by police five days before his death that there wasn't much they could do unless he hurt her.
Macduff was shot and killed by Officer Gabriel Maldonado during a domestic disturbance call at a Tigard apartment complex on Jan. 6.
On Sept. 16, the Oregon Department of Justice announced that a grand jury determined that criminal charges weren't warranted against the officer in Macduff's shooting death. However, Tigard police have launched an internal investigation into the shooting.
According to reports compiled by the Washington County Major Crimes Team, which is composed of law enforcement officers from a variety of departments throughout the county, one of the residents of Macduff's apartment complex described Macduff as "severely disturbed," saying that six months before his death, he had observed Macduff "started acting weird and would do things such as walk around the complex in his bathrobe screaming."
Macduff's roommate, friend and former partner, Theresa Chapin, previously told a reporter that her roommate had been acting "erratically" prior to the days of his fatal encounter with police.
Chapin told investigators how fearful she was because of Macduff's behavior, which included destroying personal property, in the days leading up to the fatal confrontation.
The day the police arrived, Chapin said that a neighbor had called them during a time she believes that Macduff was experiencing a "manic episode" that involved Macduff smashing his head into a wall to the point that Chapin was concerned he might hurt himself.
Macduff's mother, Dr. Maria Macduff, previously told reporters her son had bipolar disorder.
The investigation also showed that police discovered Macduff was a "constitutionalist" and adhered to beliefs held by so-called sovereign citizens, members of a political movement that questions the legitimacy of government and believes they are not subject to laws.
Part of the investigation involved a taped interview with Maldonado, the officer who shot and killed Macduff. Maldonado told Mike Purdy, a member of the Beaverton Police Department, that he remembers being told that Macduff had a "large knife" during the call to the apartment complex.
After a Tigard police negotiator talked with Macduff, it became clear he had no intention of leaving the pickup he had locked himself in, Maldonado told Purdy during the Jan. 9 interview. (That negotiator said he never saw anything that might be considered a "red flag" involving Macduff's behavior and did not see him pulling anything out of his waistband during the encounter).
Maldonado said officers came up with a plan to take Macduff into custody, with plans to break the window on the driver's side of Macduff's vehicle while Macduff remained inside.
Maldonado, a 14-year veteran of the Tigard Police Department, told Purdy that he was aware that Macduff had a history of resisting arrest and assaulting police officers. While Macduff had no criminal history in Oregon, documents obtained by Pamplin Media Group show he was arrested in Santa Barbara County, California, in 2016 for allegedly punching a sheriff's deputy.
Maldonado said he remembers observing through the window of Maldonado's vehicle that there was a fanny pack on the seat and that a jacket was lying on top of the center console, so the cupholders were not clearly visible. He described Macduff as wearing a flannel pajama-type "onesie" garment with its sleeves tied around his waist.
Maldonado said he used a spring-loaded window punch to crack the driver's side window. The officer then punched a hole in the window the size of his hand.
However, Maldonado said that when he went to swipe the glass a second time, Macduff turned to his right inside the vehicle. Maldonado said Macduff began reaching between the two seats with both hands, "but before he does that, I see in his right hand as he's doing that, a black blade with a silver edge on it, which tells me it's sharp."
Maldonado said he believed the knife was a Kershaw Blur knife, similar to one the officer himself carries. The officer described it as not being a big knife, but it was open.
According to Maldonado, as Macduff dove between the seats, Maldonado yelled "stop, stop, stop, drop, stop, drop it." Then Maldonado heard two loud shots — beanbag rounds fired at Macduff by another officer at the scene.
"I drew my duty firearm. I don't know how many shots I fired the first time to get him to stop, to stop the threat of whatever he was going to pull out of there and use on us, because clearly in his hand was a knife already," Maldonado told investigators. "Whatever he was going for was either going to be (worse), or that big knife we were talking about, or whatever it was."
An evidence report showed that investigators later discovered three black-colored knives in a center console in the truck.
Based on where he was positioned, Maldonado said he knew he didn't have a clear escape route if the situation escalated. He said he was "screaming and pleading" for Macduff to show him his hands. The officer said he was trying to yell the word "knife," because where his fellow officers were situated on the other side of the vehicle, they weren't able to see inside.
Maldonado said Macduff continued to dig around in the vehicle, not heeding his commands. At one point, Maldonado said he fired a few more shots, noting that one of the last few shots he fired possibly hit Macduff in a lung, but that Macduff still wouldn't pull his arms out. By this time, an officer began pulling Maldonado backward and away from the scene.
Asked by the investigator about why he fired at Macduff, Maldonado replied, "How quickly he pulled that knife out, he was intending to use the knife. I can't get my knife out that fast and open it if I tried."
Maldonado added, "I believe he posed an imminent threat to all of us with whatever he was going to get."
After Macduff was shot, the records indicate, two officers pulled him from the vehicle and attempted lifesaving measures. They were unsuccessful, and Macduff was pronounced dead.
A police officer then called Maria Macduff and told him her son had been shot and killed.
In April, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that Maldonado had been hired by the Port of Portland Police Department. He was later fired from that job after it was discovered that the Washington County investigation into the shooting was still open at the time.
Maldonado had already begun the hiring process with the Port of Portland before the January shooting, according to OPB, a news partner of Pamplin Media Group.
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