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Shooting by OSP trooper ruled justified

Medford man will face several charges for incident on Interstate 5 near Grants Pass

A Jackson County grand jury determined that an Oregon State Police trooper was justified in using lethal force March 6 against a knife-wielding man on Interstate 5 south of Grants Pass.

Oregon State Trooper Carter Ellis saw the suspect, Cole Reeves, 25, of Medford, driving recklessly and at high speeds on I-5, and watched Reeves rear-end another vehicle before crashing his vehicle into the median, police said.

Reeves reportedly got out of his vehicle holding a 7-inch knife in each hand, his arms raised above his shoulders, and came toward the trooper. They started a little more than 100 feet apart, and he ignored commands to drop the knives, police said.

Ellis was wearing a body camera. The DA’s office reported that the trooper could be heard telling the suspect to get back in the car and that he didn’t want to shoot him.

Reeves responded by saying, “I have to be shot,” the DA’s office said.

When Reeves resumed his approach toward Ellis, the trooper fired four rounds, the DA’s office said.

“The trooper stopped firing once the suspect dropped to the ground,” according to the DA’s office. “The distance from where the suspect fell to the ground to the trooper’s car door was between 20 and 21 feet.”

Reeves was shot twice, once in the torso and once in the arm.

The trooper told grand jurors that he feared for his life. Ellis also testified that he was in an area with poor radio reception, which limited his ability to call for backup.

Ellis was “fully justified in his use of lethal force and in compliance with Oregon law,” jurors concluded.

They also agreed Reeves should face charges for attempted first-degree assault, third-degree assault, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, unlawful use of a weapon, menacing, reckless driving, second-degree criminal mischief and recklessly endangering another person, according to Jackson County District’s Attorney’s office.

Reeves remains hospitalized. He will participate by telephone during an arraignment scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in Jackson County Circuit Court.