JoCo DA clears deputy who fired near Selma double homicide
A Josephine County sheriff’s deputy who fired at a truck that fled the scene of a double homicide investigation has been cleared of wrongdoing and will return to active duty.
Josephine County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Jim Geiger fired five shots at a pickup that rolled up to a police staging area shortly after midnight March 25 on a logging road several miles off Lakeshore Drive, according to a release issued Thursday by the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office.The pickup refused Geiger’s commands as he approached the truck, and put Geiger in “imminent threat of serious physical injury.”
Geiger was among a team of sheriff’s deputies and Oregon State Police troopers who were investigating the deaths of 24-year-old Daniel Thomas Hill and 26-year-old Paul Martin Folk after their bodies were found in a burned van about 6 miles up McMullen Creek Road the prior afternoon. At the time, no suspects in the homicide had yet been captured.
A suspect identified as Harley Edward Boitz, 26, was later arrested on charges surrounding Hill and Folk’s homicide, and is currently held in the Josephine County Jail.
A pair of vehicles — one described as a “small truck” and another described as an SUV — approached the remote staging area at 12:06 a.m. March 25 on a fork of the logging road near Kerby Mainline Road.
Geiger and others in uniform who identified themselves as law enforcement, attempted to contact the truck, according to the release drawing from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office investigation of the shooting. The deputies and OSP troopers repeatedly gave commands such as “show us our hands,” but the driver did not stop.
The small truck moved forward slowly, then ground its gears into reverse.
While rapidly backing up, the truck struck the SUV that was attempting to flee.
The truck’s new position reportedly put Geiger "at risk of serious physical injury or death,“ according to the sheriff’s office.
“As a result, Lt. Geiger discharged his service pistol five times before diving into a roadside ditch to avoid being run over,” according to the release.
The truck fled the scene, and was never located.
The release does not say whether police made contact with the driver of the SUV that was struck by the fleeing truck, or whether the vehicles involved are linked to the homicide investigation. A message to the sheriff’s office was not immediately returned.
What’s known is that Boitz was arrested the afternoon of April 1 following a traffic stop in Cave Junction.
A Josephine County grand jury charged Boitz last week with charges of first-degree murder with a firearm, first- and second-degree arson, first-degree abuse of a corpse, felon in possession of a firearm and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, according to documents filed in Josephine County Circuit Court.
The second-degree arson charge accuses Boitz of starting a fire that damaged a van “in an amount exceeding $750.” The unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charge accuses Boitz of stealing a Chevrolet truck some five days prior to the homicide.
The Josephine County District Attorney’s Office alleges that the homicide occurred while Boitz was on post-prison supervision following multiple convictions for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, first-degree theft and eluding police. Court records show that Boitz has felony convictions dating back to 2012.
His next court appearance in the homicide case is set for June 10, records show.
Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.