LANE COUNTY, Ore. (KMTR) – The Lane County District Attorney's Office has cleared a sheriff's deputy four days after shooting a woman who was allegedly armed with a gun.
Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner, representatives from the Lane County Sheriff's Office and detectives in the case held a press conference on Friday, April 6, 2012, announcing the findings of the initial Interagency Deadly Force Investigation Team (IDFIT) investigation into the Cedar Flat Road shooting.
The shooting happened around 10 p.m. on Monday, April 2, 2012, at property at the end of Cedar Flat Road, east of Springfield.
Two Lane County Sheriff's deputies responded after an initial 911 call about a physical dispute between family members. In the midst of the incident, a Lane County Sheriff's deputy fired his service pistol at a woman outside the residence.
The District Attorney's Office is now offering more insight into why shots were fired. "It was clearly a lawful use of deadly force,” said Gardner. “What he (the firing deputy) said was, 'I thought I was going to die. I thought I was going to be shot'.”
Investigators say two Lane County Sheirff's deputies arrived on the virtually pitch black property around 10:04 p.m. Monday night, speaking with witnesses about the alleged family fight.
While on scene, according to Gardner, the responding deputies head gunfire shortly after they arrived. “The deputies hear first one shot, and then another,” said Gardner.
According to Gardner, a witness then told deputies that the suspect, 31-year old Jennifer Tucker, was coming down the driveway. “She's on the other side of a large gate that's blocking the driveway,” Gardner said.
Deputies then asked Tucker if she had fired the gun; she replied affirmatively. Next, deputies asked Tucker if she was armed. Tucker replied, “Yes, and I'll shoot again.”
Investigators say Tucker was asked to show her hands and she refused, then turned to walk away.
"The deputies believe she represents a risk to others who may be back in those residences. For all they know somebody's already been shot," says Gardner.
Investigators say Lane County Sheriff's deputy Brian Jessee then tried to use a taser on Tucker, but only one metal prong made contact with her skin, resulting in a failed attempt.
Investigators say at that point, Tucker then turned around, grabbing a .44 revolver on her body. Deputy Jason Wilson then fired four shots, hitting Tucker four times.
"When there are all of those threat conditions and somebody has been shooting, it's a sensible response . . . there are really few alternatives,” said Gardner.
Tucker was shot twice in the neck, once in the chest and once in the hand. In a hospital interview with detectives, Tucker confirmed what happened.
“When I interviewed her a subsequent time is when she made more elaborate statements about what occurred at the scene. And how she pulled a gun, and that's why the officer shot her,” says Detective George Crolly, a member of the IDFIT team and detective with the Springfield Police Department.
“(speaking to detectives) she said, 'I was stupid', and the detective asked, 'well being stupid isn't enough to get you shot, what happened?' and she said, '“I pulled a gun and they shot me', and that's pretty much, that's pretty much the substance of it,” said Gardner.
Investigators say Tucker had meth and THC in her system during the night of the shooting.
While deputies say a use of force is a last resort, these are the cases they are dealing with more in today's world.
"It's a prime example of the lack of proper policing and these end up being the byproducts of that,” said Captain Byron Trapp with the Lane County Sheriff's Office.
The deputy who fired the shots also used deadly force in late 2008, after a transient man pulled a gun on him on Royal Avenue in the Eugene area. The Lane County District Attorney's Office cleared the deputy in that case as well.
Both deputies directly involved in the incident could return to work as early as tomorrow.
Tucker is still in critical condition in a local hospital and has yet to be charged with anything as of Thursday, April 6, 2012. The investigation in the case continues.