Grand juror sought to justify Eagle Point shooting before hearing from witnesses
One of the grand jurors who voted to justify an Eagle Point police officer and two sheriff’s deputies in a February shootout expressed interest in justifying the use of deadly force before listening to any of the involved witnesses.
The Jackson County District Attorney’s office Thursday released the transcript of the grand jury hearing that justified the police shooting during a Feb. 23 traffic stop in a church parking lot, during which 39-year-old Dale Amstutz-Dunn fired a gun at one officer from the passenger seat of a Chevrolet Tahoe, and reportedly died of a self-inflicted gunshot — but not before Eagle Point officer Donny Jordan, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Cpl. Chad Prins and Deputy Tyler Cam fired at least 19 rounds into the Tahoe combined.
“Can we vote now?” one grand juror asked District Attorney Beth Heckert early in the April 15 hearing. The transcript does not identify any of the seven grand jurors, or delineate one juror over another, but moments later a juror is quoted as saying, “I was going to say, if you get shot at, you should be able to shoot back.”
Heckert told the jury that it needed to hear from each witness, including the officers involved in the shooting. At that point, the only individual they’d heard from was the Oregon State Police detective in charge of the case investigation.
“You have to hear from all of the individual people,” Heckert said in the transcript. “You have to hear from the officers who fired saying why they chose to fire at that moment.”
Leading up to the shooting was a domestic violence call that came in at 7:21 a.m. in the 100 block of Idlewood Drive in Eagle Point. Amstutz-Dunn’s former girlfriend of two months said he became “super paranoid and super aggressive.”
“Like he had actually had me held in my bedroom for about half an hour with his shotgun in my face earlier that day and told me that no souls were leaving the house,” the woman said. Her 7-year-old son and bedridden 12-year-old son were home at the time.
The Tahoe driver, Adam Hackworth, hardly knew Amstutz-Dunn or the girlfriend. He was helping the woman’s sister move her family to safety when Amstutz-Dunn returned.
An altercation at gunpoint ensued inside the house, and Amstutz-Dunn ultimately ordered Hackworth to take him “out of here right now.”
The girlfriend testified about telling 911 dispatchers “four or five times” that Hackworth “wasn’t the danger, that he was more so in danger.”
Jordan, the Eagle Point officer who initiated the stop, testified that he only learned that Hackworth was an innocent bystander after the fact. At the time of the stop, he only had a vehicle description and a name.
Amstutz-Dunn evaded his name. Minutes later, he identified himself to Cpl. Prins and Deputy Cam on backup, and shot Prins — protected by a ballistic vest — in the chest.
Jordan fired six shots into the back window. Cpl. Prins fired at least three rounds and Deputy Cam fired 12 rounds.
A grand juror asked Prins if the number of rounds he fired was “a trained thing.” Prins testified that the number of rounds he fired was “more of a reactionary thing.”
“Basically when I was shot, as soon as the window shattered and that I could see inside where I could ascertain ... if the threat was no longer a threat, I stopped shooting,” Prins testified.
Assessing and stopping a threat, Prins testified, is something trained in officers “over and over.”
A grand juror asked if there was any chance to get Hackworth safely out of the vehicle prior to the shooting.
“You had some information that the driver was an unwilling participant,” Heckert told Prins.
Prins testified that at the time, neither Hackworth nor Amstutz-Dunn were identifying themselves at all.
“So I’m thinking to myself that they’re not even the suspect or they’re not even involved with the incident at all,” Prins testified, adding that when he learned of Amstutz-Dunn’s name, “it went zero to 100 like that.”
Hackworth was shot in the arm while caught in the crossfire. Prins testified that it’s unclear whether Amstutz-Dunn or an officer shot Hackworth because the bullet in his arm had not yet been removed.
The shot that killed Amstutz-Dunn was a self-inflicted wound to the head, according to Dr. James Olson, who conducted the autopsy.