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Man who was shot had troubled past, court records and family say

The 20-year-old fugitive gunned down Thursday by U.S. Marshals outside of a west Medford grocery store was a career criminal with drug and mental-health problems and a history of assaulting police officers, records show

But family members say that did not mean a likely unarmed James "Jimmy" Georgeson deserved to be shot dead after he allegedly attempted to crash his vehicle into the car of agents trying to arrest him for violating his federal probation for assaulting a U.S. Marshal in 2009.

"Jimmy was no angel by any means, and he was a runner," stepfather James Harrison, of Medford, said this morning. "But he's not your Top 10 America's Most Wanted, just a dumb kid who made bad choices under the influence.

"He didn't deserve what happened," Harrison said. "He didn't deserve to be shot. It could have been handled in a completely different way."

On the morning after the 5:22 p.m. shooting outside of the front door of the Albertsons store on West Main Street, the community continued to grasp for details over why one or more Marshals opened fire during their arrest attempt in the bustling retail complex.

A U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Thursday said that Georgeson used his Dodge Durango as "a deadly weapon" just prior to the shooting, but neither the service nor Medford police have identified the marshals involved nor said how many shots were fired.

The agents were trying to arrest Georgeson for violating the conditions of his federal probation — walking away from his latest drug treatment attempt, Harrison said.

Harrison said he last saw Georgeson on Tuesday and that "he looked really bad and was tired of not making right decisions.

"I bugged him to turn himself in, and he was ready to do that," Harrison says. "It just happened too late."

Harrison says Georgeson never carried weapons and he is convinced Georgeson was unarmed at the time of the shooting, though police have yet to discuss whether he was armed.

Federal court records filed in Georgeson's 2010 conviction for assaulting a U.S. Marshal detail a lengthy criminal, drug and mental-health history for Georgeson.

At the time, his juvenile and adult crime record included convictions for theft, assault, burglary, possession of the drug Ecstasy and assaulting a police officer — enough at age 18 to end up just shy of placing in the highest criminal-history category during his federal sentencing.

His own attorney at the time filed court papers saying Georgeson was a ward of the court at age 12, has been treated for mental-health conditions since that age and was diagnosed as having various drug dependencies and anti-social personality traits.

Georgeson found his way into the federal penal system quite literally by mistake.

He was hiding in a bathroom of a Talent house on June 25, 2009, when Marshals showed up in search of a fugitive, court records state. The house's occupant told Marshals that the unidentified fugitive was not present, but acknowledged that someone was hiding in the bathroom, records show.

The Marshals didn't know that the man in the bathroom was Georgeson, high on Ecstasy and wanted on a local warrant for probation violation, but not the target of the Marshals search, records show.

After Marshals knocked on the bathroom door and identified themselves, Georgeson fled through the bathroom window and agents gave chase into a nearby apartment complex, records show.

Outside of an apartment there, Marshals again identified themselves and said they had a warrant, records show. After agents forced their way into an apartment, Georgeson lunged at an agent from behind in an attempt to tackle him, according to a federal sentencing memorandum.

The Marshal fought with Georgeson, "tasing" him three times before he was subdued, the sentencing memorandum states.

Georgeson received a 2-year federal prison sentence in April 2010, but was back in Jackson County on federal probation during 2011, records show. He was convicted on Oct. 10, 2011, for violating the condition of his parole that he remain sober and drug-free, but was not jailed at the time, records show.

— Mark Freeman