Grand jury issues decision on officer-involved shooting
A grand jury concluded today that a police officer’s use of force was justified when he shot a knife-wielding man who charged police officers and firefighters.
Two other police officers deployed their Tasers.
All three police officers had received critical incident training to deal with people in a mental health crisis.
The officer who used a gun, identified as Medford Police Department Corporal J. Schilder, is a critical incident training regional instructor with more than 13 years experience with MPD, according to an account of the incident detailed in a Jackson County District Attorney’s Office press release issued today.
The man who was shot, Steven Craig Myers, 55, appeared to be in the midst of a suicide attempt when first responders arrived at his home on Sept. 22.
After being hit in the abdomen by a single round, he was taken into custody.
Medford Fire-Rescue and Mercy Flights immediately rendered aid on the scene after Myers was detained and no longer posed a threat. He was taken to Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford for treatment of the gunshot wound and self-inflicted lacerations on his wrists and neck and stab wounds to his stomach area.
Oregon law allows a police officer to use deadly physical force if the police officer reasonably believes a person is about to use deadly physical force against the officer or another person.
The grand jury also returned an indictment against Myers charging him with one count of unlawful use of a weapon and four counts of menacing, the press release said.
According to the account of the incident in the press release, Myers’ daughter called dispatchers to request a welfare check on him on Sept. 22.
She said they had been in an argument on Sept. 20 and she had tried several times to communicate with him on Sept. 21.
When she woke up on Sept. 22, she saw a text message that had been sent by her father at 2:47 a.m. telling her goodbye. She was worried and rushed to his address in the 100 block of Seroba Circle in Medford.
After discovering the gate to his duplex was stuck, she called 911.
MPD Officer J. Baglietto, who has more than nine years of experience with the department, arrived at the scene and made contact with the daughter. Calls to Myers’ cellphone went straight to voicemail. Baglietto found the gate to the front door had a piece of wood jammed in the latch.
Schilder arrived on scene and the two officers were able to remove the wood and open the gate. Both went to the front door and knocked and announced themselves several times, trying to get Myers to answer the door.
When Baglietto tried the door handle, it fell off.
Schilder requested an officer capable of picking a lock through proper MPD procedures. Officer E. Baines arrived on scene and attempted to pick the dead-bolt lock, but the bolt assembly just fell out.
Baines then took a screen off a window next to the front door and was able to push the window open.
“When officers pulled the curtains back, they could see a blood trail into the hallway,” the press release said.
Baines believed he heard someone inside the home.
The entire time, officers continued to make announcements, requesting Myers to respond. They requested more back-up officers, and Officer E. Hull and Sergeant B. Mak arrived.
Police asked Medford Fire-Rescue personnel to open the door with their equipment, believing that Myers or someone else inside the home was in need of emergency assistance.
The door was pried open and officers could see a man standing at the end of a hallway covered in dried blood.
“The fire personnel were essentially trapped in this cramped fenced area and took cover wherever they could find it,” the press release said. “Corporal Schilder, who had his firearm drawn, started giving Mr. Myers commands to show his hands. Mr. Myers put his left arm in the air, but he kept his right hand concealed behind his back.”
As officers continued to give commands, Schilder saw a knife in Myers’ right hand behind his back and announced this to the other officers.
“Right after Corporal Schilder announced the presence of the knife, Mr. Myers started quickly advancing to the front door ignoring commands to stop and show his hands,” the press release said.
The police officers started trying to create more space by backing into the yard, but Myers continued advancing with the knife and came out the front door.
Almost simultaneously, Schilder fired one shot from his handgun — believing that Myers posed a deadly threat to himself, the other police officers and Medford Fire-Rescue personnel — and Officers Hull and Baglietto discharged their Tasers.
“The grand jury found that the actions of the involved officers in this case were justified and in compliance with Oregon law,” the press release said.
Hull has more than eight years of experience with MPD while Baglietto has been with the department for more than nine years.
The grand jury was shown body camera footage from all five MPD officers on the scene. They also saw photographs and a diagram of the layout of the home and yard.
Grand jury members heard testimony from several witnesses, including the officers at the scene, Myers’ daughter, Medford Fire-Rescue personnel and other officers involved in the investigation.
Oregon State Police was the lead agency on the case, with assistance from the Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit.
The unit is comprised of detectives from OSP, MPD, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the Central Point Police Department and the Ashland Police Department.
The case was presented to the grand jury by Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Markiewicz.