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Man deputy shot gets indicted

Grand jury charges six counts of attempted aggravated murder for allegedly shooting at pursuing sheriff's deputies last month

A Rogue River man shot by a Jackson County sheriff's deputy after allegedly firing several rounds at police during a vehicle pursuit was indicted Thursday on six counts of attempted aggravated murder and other felony charges.

Curtis Lee Vancil, 33, will be lodged in the Jackson County Jail upon his release from Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford, officials said.

Vancil, who was listed in serious condition late Thursday, was hospitalized July 29 after he was shot once by deputy Charles Retzer following a dangerous chase that ended in a remote area of Douglas County. A grand jury in Douglas County decided Wednesday that Retzer's actions were justified, officials said.

A Jackson County grand jury on Thursday heard about 90 minutes of testimony from six witnesses, including Retzer. District Attorney Mark Huddleston said the panel deliberated less than five minutes before returning the indictments against Vancil.

Besides the six charges of attempted aggravated murder, Vancil faces six counts of attempted first-degree assault, four counts of first-degree theft, three counts of unlawful entry into a motor vehicle, attempting to elude a police officer, reckless driving and methamphetamine possession.

— Those are the charges we asked the grand jury to consider, Huddleston said. The panel didn't have any problem returning an indictment, apparently.

Attempted aggravated murder carries a mandatory minimum prison term of 10 years, according to state sentencing guidelines.

In the hours before leading police on a 43-mile pursuit, Vancil allegedly stole four firearms and other items from three vehicles parked along East Evans Creek Road near Rogue River, Huddleston said.

Retzer tried to pull over Vancil's Geo Metro on West Gregory Road in White City at about 6:45 a.m. on July 29. Vancil sped away from Retzer, prompting several other sheriff's deputies to join the pursuit. The chase ended about an hour later when Vancil's vehicle spun out while making a turn off Snow Creek Road east of Azalea, officials said.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters said Vancil climbed out of his vehicle's passenger-side window and pointed a loaded 9 mm pistol at Retzer while running away from the deputy. Retzer fired one shot at Vancil, striking him in the lower right side of his back, Winters said.

Vancil was airlifted to RVMC, where he was initially treated in an intensive-care unit for critical injuries. His condition was upgraded to serious earlier this week. Winters said hospital officials on Thursday told him it will still be a while before Vancil can be released and moved to jail.

During the pursuit, Vancil allegedly tossed golf clubs, a rifle and numerous other stolen items from his car. He also allegedly used three weapons to fire several rounds at Retzer and sheriff's deputy Grant Forman as they chased the Geo Metro, Huddleston said.

Investigators located a small amount of methamphetamine in Vancil's vehicle, officials said.

Vancil, who has no prior felony convictions in Oregon, was arrested June 23 on several felony charges relating to a string of vehicle break-ins throughout Medford. Court records show he was released from jail on his own recognizance about two weeks later.

Retzer was immediately placed on administrative leave following the shooting, but will now return to duty, Winters said.

In November 2000, Retzer was involved in the fatal shooting of a schizophrenic Central Point man who threatened him and another deputy with a knife. A grand jury later ruled Retzer and deputy James Biddle acted in self-defense when they shot Mark Vincent, 39.

Reach reporter Jack Moran at 776-4459, or e-mail Man deputy shot gets indicted "jmoran@mailtribune.com.