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Fatal shooting described as ‘unfortunate misunderstanding’

No charges to be filed after self-defense determination

No charges will result from a fatal shooting that occurred Dec. 11, in the 800 block of Belmont Street in Medford, because the shooting is considered an act of self-defense, according to the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.

“Mr. McCauley stated he ultimately believed his use of deadly physical force against Mr. Brown was necessary to protect his life and possibly the lives of others at the duplex on this night,” the DA’s Office wrote in a three-page news release about the incident in which DeAngelo McCauley, 36, shot Dominique Brown, 31.

“The evidence supports that Mr. McCauley’s use of deadly physical force against Mr. Brown was justified self-defense under Oregon law,” the DA’s office explained.

The release cites sections of Oregon Revised Statutes, which states that deadly force is a justified act of self-defense if someone reasonably believes the other person is using — or is about to use — unlawful deadly physical force against them.

And ORS 161.215 stipulates that someone isn’t justified in using deadly force if they were the initial aggressor.

“Due to the factual circumstances of this incident, the evidence supports only that Mr. McCauley was justified to use deadly physical force, as he was not the initial aggressor and he reasonably believed Mr. Brown was about to use deadly physical force upon him,” the DA’s Office said.

The two men were acquaintances at the time of the shooting. McCauley, who is from California, was among family members who came to see a relative who lived at the Belmont Street location, a duplex, where the shooting later occurred.

Brown’s girlfriend, Jenisa Cruz, lived in the other unit with her mother, Tina Zarate. Both women had become friends with McCauley and his family during their visit.

They all went out to a local bar on the night of Dec. 10. Brown and Cruz had an argument that evening. McCauley said he saw Brown grab a bag away from Cruz and walk away with it that evening before the couple left the bar.

The others returned to the duplex in the early morning hours of Dec. 11 after visiting a second bar.

After everyone else had settled in for the night, Brown was trying to find the bag, which had contained about $4,000. Cruz tried multiple times by phone to persuade her mother to give back her car keys so Brown could look for the bag there.

Zarate refused, however, because she was holding the keys so her daughter wouldn’t be able to drive while intoxicated.

Cruz said Brown was “going crazy” about the bag and had broken one of her car windows in an effort to search for it.

During one of the phone calls between Cruz and Zarate, Brown is reported to have yelled at Zarate that his bag being gone is “what people get killed over and that he was going to be outside her house.”

Zarate decided to leave her daughter’s car keys inside the mailbox to avoid further confrontation.

Around 6:45 a.m., Zarate passed this information to McCauley, who had just woken up to the sound of a bang, grabbed his firearm and went outside to check on Zarate.

McCauley became concerned that Brown was damaging his vehicle, so he walked out to the street. It was still dark outside but he could see a vehicle approaching without its lights on.

It stopped and Brown got out and walked toward McCauley.

The DA’s Office then wrote that “the situation then quickly deteriorated.”

McCauley said Brown had his hand in his jacket pocket and was “aggressively getting into his face.” He accused McCauley of stealing the bag and made threats.

McCauley said he put his gun into Brown’s chest to get him to back away while putting his other hand on Brown’s chest pocket. He later described feeling what seemed to be a firearm underneath the fabric.

McCauley told authorities he tried to reason with Brown by describing the earlier episode he saw between Brown and Cruz while they were all out the night before. It only caused Brown to more deeply believe he was the culprit.

McCauley then said Brown pulled the gun from his jacket pocket, pointed it at him and said, “You know what time it is.”

McCauley reacted by firing nine shots, four of which struck Brown.

Brown fired three times, but McCauley wasn’t struck with any of those bullets, according to the DA’s Office.

Zarate saw the incident but told authorities she thought Brown fired the first shot.

A surveillance video was a good distance from the man and it was still dark outside. It was able to record Brown approaching and then getting close to McCauley right before the shooting.

The DA’s Office pointed out that McCauley had a valid California permit to carry a concealed weapon and no known prior arrests. Brown had an arrest record that included assault with a deadly weapon and shooting at an inhabited dwelling or occupied car.

“Ms. Zarate stated she also believed Mr. McCauley might have saved her life in being there when Mr. Brown arrived, as she believed that Mr. Brown was there to kill her,” the DA’s Office stated.

The release ended by stating that there is no evidence that someone stole the missing bag.

“Rather, the evidence suggests that this was an unfortunate misunderstanding by Mr. Brown.”