Police: Man texted 'goodbye' to relative before attempting suicide-by-cop
A Medford man texted “goodbye” to a family member Sunday before he backed Medford police officers against a fence and brandished a steak knife and was shot in what investigators believe was an attempted suicide-by-cop.
“I think that is what the investigation will reveal,” Medford police Chief Scott Clauson said Monday. “All indications are that’s what it’s going to be.”
Steven C. Myers, 55, who has no criminal record in Oregon and was not known to Medford police, was shot in the torso and was listed Monday in stable condition at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center after undergoing surgery Sunday, Clauson said.
Myers had what police called “self-inflicted wounds” to at least one wrist and had his hand behind his back as he approached officers who tried to get Myers to surrender in the backyard of his duplex on the 100 block of Seroba Circle, Clauson said.
The officers had backed up against a wooden fence in Myers’ backyard when Myers pulled his hand from behind his back and revealed the knife, Clauson said.
Two officers almost instantly fired their stun guns while one officer used a firearm to shoot an unreported number of times at Myers, Clauson said.
Clauson did not name the officers but said two were male and one was female. Clauson did not reveal the gender of the shooter but said that officer had not previously been involved in an officer-involved shooting.
All three were placed on administrative leave Sunday. In all, five officers were on the scene, and the incident was caught on body cameras from several different angles, Clauson said.
The ordeal began at 9:40 a.m. Sunday when a female relative called police to say Myers had texted her “goodbye” earlier and that she was unable to locate him, saying she feared that he was going to harm himself, police said.
Myers failed to answer officers’ knocks at his door or calls to his cellphone, and officers spent about an hour attempting to talk with Myers through an open window without success, Clauson said.
Medford Fire & Rescue firefighters pried open the duplex’s main door, which faces the backyard, and officers saw Myers standing in the duplex with one arm behind his back, police said.
Myers refused officers’ commands to surrender as he backed them into the yard before showing the knife, police said.
Clauson did not give the dimensions of the knife nor did he say how close Myers was to officers when they fired, other than to say it was in “fairly close quarters.”
All Medford police officers have crisis-intervention training, and having officers armed with both stun guns and firearms simultaneously while approaching a potentially armed and suicidal person is “pretty standard protocol for us,” Clauson said.
“We train that way, actually,” he said.
The case is being investigated by the Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit, with Oregon State Police as the lead agency. The Jackson County District Attorney’s Office is assisting.
Once the investigation is complete, the case will be presented to a grand jury for review.
It was the first officer-involved shooting in Medford since March 2018, when an officer shot and wounded a man who stepped out of his apartment and fired several shots at police after earlier barricading himself in his Garfield Street home.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.