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Update: Marion County District Attorney's Office Announces Grand Jury Rules Use of Deadly Force Justified in Silverton Shooting
April 10, 2013
The following is a news release from the Marion County District Attorney's Office
Today a Marion County Grand Jury, after receiving evidence for approximately 6 hours, unanimously found that the police officers involved in the shooting death of Jimmie Eugene Hickey, on February 25, 2013, was a lawful use of deadly physical force.
The incident began around 1:49 pm on February 25, 2013, at the Silver Spur RV Park, which is located at 12622 Silverton Road NE just west of the city limits of the City of Silverton, Oregon. Resident and assistant manager of the Silver Spur RV Park, Nicholas Lee Fisher, was in the main office of the park when Jimmie Eugene Hickey, age 78, entered the building carrying a handgun. Hickey had recently been evicted from his residence at the RV Park and was known to Fisher. Fisher attempted to flee and was shot by Hickey in the arm. Hickey continued to shoot at Fisher multiple times even after Fisher fled outside. Fisher jumped into a passing vehicle driven by another resident and was taken to the hospital. Fisher was flown by helicopter to Legacy Emanuel Hospital where he received treatment for a serious gunshot injury to the arm. He has since been released and continues to recover.
Hickey got into a black Ford sedan he had rented earlier that day, and drove to the RV Park Manager's home a few feet away. Manager, Matthew Barker, and his wife were in their bedroom when Hickey fired into the residence, causing debris to fly in the bedroom. A bullet hole and bullet were located in the Barker's bedroom. Neither Barker nor his wife was injured.
Hickey continued to drive through the neighborhood RV Park until he parked his rented vehicle near resident Richard Hill's home. Hickey got out of the vehicle and fired multiple shots at Hill. Hill was not hit. Hickey then proceeded to take a position on a picnic table atop a hill that overlooks the neighborhood. Hickey was armed with both a rifle and a pistol at the highest vantage point in the RV Park.
Dispatchers had received information from numerous 911 calls about the active shooting incident inside the RV Park. Law Enforcement Officers from multiple agencies responded to the scene, including: Oregon State Police, Marion County Sheriff's Office, Silverton Police Department, Woodburn Police Department and Salem Police Department.
Hickey continued to engage in threatening behavior by leveling his rifle both in the direction of the RV Park and towards officers who were now on scene. Numerous officers repeatedly ordered Hickey to drop his weapon. He ignored their commands and fired toward officers engaging them in exchanges of gunfire.
Trooper Nicholas Rhoades, age 30, was positioned between Hickey and Silverton Road along with Trooper James Andrews, age 33. Hickey fired numerous shots in their direction. Both Rhoades and Andrews fired upon Hickey. Despite being hit, Hickey continued to point his rifle at officers and was reaching for a secondary firearm.
Deputy Ryan Postlewait, age 34, from the Marion County Sheriff's Office was positioned over 400 yards away on Paradise Alley, north of the RV Park. He too could see Hickey and knew he was actively shooting toward other officers and the RV Park in general. He also fired upon Hickey.
Once it was apparent that Hickey was injured and had ceased shooting, officers rendered aid until medics who had staged nearby were called in to treat Hickey. He was transported to Silverton Hospital and subsequently life-flighted to Legacy Emanuel Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. An autopsy was performed on Hickey by Doctor Cliff Nelson of the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office. It was determined that he died as a result of gunshot wounds to various parts of his body. Toxicology reports confirmed he did not have any alcohol or controlled substances in his system.
Deputy Ryan Postlewait has worked for the Marion County Sheriff's Office for seven (7) years. He previously worked for three (3) years for the Independence Police Department and was a Reserve Officer with the Dallas Police Department. He is currently assigned to the Marion County Traffic Safety Team and serves as a member of the SWAT team.
Trooper Nick (Nicholas) Rhoades has worked for the Oregon State Police for 7 years and is assigned in the Patrol Services Division at the Salem Area Command office. He is further an active member of the United States Military. Trooper James Andrews has worked for the Oregon State Police for 4 years and is assigned in the Fish & Wildlife Division at the Salem Area Command office.
Toxicology results confirmed that none of the three officers who fired their weapons had any alcohol or controlled substances in their systems.
Although Rhoades, Andrews and other officers who responded directly to the scene of the RV Park were fired upon by Hickey, none of them was injured during the incident. The investigation of the shooting was led by the Keizer Police Department and the evidence was presented to the Grand Jury by the Marion County District Attorney's Office.
A total of ten witnesses testified before the Grand Jury, including five civilians and five police officers. Evidence presented included not only the testimony of the witnesses, but photographs, scene diagrams, physical evidence seized, the medical examiner's report from the autopsy and the toxicology results of Hickey and the involved police officers.
The Grand Jury today made its decision in applying the facts of this case to the legal principles regarding when deadly physical force can be used. Those legal principles are as follows.
Each of the law enforcement officers had to reasonably believe that:
(1) Jimmie Eugene Hickey was committing or attempting to commit a felony involving the use or threatened imminent use of physical force against himself or another person;
(2) regardless of the particular offense which is the subject of the arrest or attempted escape, the use of deadly physical force was necessary to defend the peace officer or another person from the use or threatened imminent use of deadly physical force;
(3) the crime committed by the person was a felony or an attempt to commit a felony, and under the totality of the circumstances existing at the time and place, the use of such force was necessary; or
(4) the officer's life or personal safety was endangered in the particular circumstances involved.
The Grand Jury's decision required reviewing all the facts and evidence available to them and applying them to the legal rules. That is what the Grand Jury has done today. They found that the actions of Oregon State Police Trooper Nick Rhoades, Oregon State Police Trooper James Andrews, and Marion County Sheriff's Deputy Ryan Postlewait were justified.
Following the Grand Jury's decision today, District Attorney Walt Beglau stated, "I appreciate the Grand Jury's careful review of the facts. I am confident that the response of law enforcement in this case saved lives. For that, we are grateful."