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Grand jury: Officer justified in Rogue River shooting

Rodney Don Purslow, 32, was identified as the armed man killed May 18 in a shooting outside Rogue River in the 1500 block of Queens Branch Road. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office photo.
Man killed by police canceled doctor appointment minutes before police shooting ‘because I will more than likely be dead’

A Jackson County grand jury has justified a sheriff’s deputy’s use of deadly force against a Rogue River domestic violence suspect who was armed with a rifle.

Deputy Travis Cote was declared justified Thursday in killing 32-year-old Rodney Don Purslow May 18 after firing eight shots through the windshield of a Volkswagen Jetta, according to a press release issued Thursday by the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.

Seven of Cote’s eight gunshots struck Purslow, according to Jackson County Medical Examiner Dr. James Olson, who determined that Purslow’s cause of death was “multiple gunshot wounds to the thorax and abdomen.”

Investigators recovered a short-barreled .22-caliber rifle with one round in the chamber along with Purslow’s phone.

A search of the phone showed that Purslow had sent a text message to a doctor at 11:25 a.m. stating, “You might want to cancel my appointment Friday because I will more than likely be dead by then, thank you goodbye.”

Purslow had driven back to the 1500 block of Queens Branch Road where he had reportedly attacked his father.

The grand jury heard from witnesses that included Purslow’s father, who called 911 at 11:02 a.m. May 18 telling dispatchers that he thought his son was going to kill him. Rodney Purslow fled the scene in the Jetta at 11:22 a.m.

Deputy Cote arrived at 11:29 a.m., and observed face and neck injuries on Purslow’s father.

Cote had spoken with the victim once before May 18, when Purslow’s father called to say his son was suicidal. No crime was committed in the prior incident, so Cote never made face-to-face contact with Purslow.

The Jetta returned to the property at 11:41 a.m. while Cote was taking the victim’s statement in the domestic violence case. Inside the car, Cote saw that Rodney Purslow had a rifle pointed toward his mouth.

Cote ordered Purslow to “put it up.”

Purslow drove the car closer to the deputy, then started revving the engine.

Cote testified that he was watching Purslow’s hands closely and noticed he was manipulating the bolt-action while the rifle was down. Then, Cote noticed that Purslow’s hands were coming up with the rifle.

“Deputy Cote believed his life and the life of Gordon Purslow were at risk and responded to Rodney Purslow’s action by firing his duty weapon eight times through the windshield of the car; in a matter of two seconds,” the release issued by Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Markiewicz stated.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.