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Marion County DA Office: Investigation into Officer-Involved Use of Force Completed
(The following is a news release sent out by Marion County District Attorney's Office.  Questions regarding this release should be directed to Marion County Deputy District Attorney Jodie Bureta at (503) 588-5158)
The Marion County District Attorney's Office has completed the review of a thorough, complete, and transparent investigation by the Salem Police Department into the facts related to a June 16, 2010 use of force involving an Oregon State Police (OSP) SWAT team trooper toward Steven Avila during the execution of one of many search warrants in the Salem area. After an OSP SWAT trooper deployed a Taser toward Avila, who physically resisted officers' attempts to restrain him before and briefly after the Taser use, he became unconscious and was transported to a hospital for emergency medical care until he was released four days later. Following the review of the investigation, the Marion County District Attorney's Office has concluded the use of force was reasonable and will not present the case to a Grand Jury.
On June 16, 2010 at approximately 6:00 a.m. OSP SWAT team members were assisting with the execution of multiple search warrants in the Salem area as part of an ongoing multi-agency federal narcotics investigation. OSP SWAT team members were serving one of the search warrants in northeast Salem when upon entry into a residence troopers encountered a 16-year old Avila who ignored commands and physically resisted efforts to take him into custody.
OSP Senior Trooper Jeromy Hasenkamp deployed a Taser when Avila continued to physically resist other troopers entering the residence. After a brief period of continued resistance, Avila became unconscious. An OSP SWAT medic, with help from other SWAT troopers, started emergency medical care. Salem Fire Department paramedics responded and worked with OSP SWAT members before he was initially taken by ambulance to Salem Hospital, then transferred to Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland. Steven Avila was released from Doernbecher on June 20, 2010.
Avila was not a resident at the address where the incident occurred. An adult male and adult female were also at the residence. The adult male, Jean Carlo Chavarin was arrested and subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury on 15 counts of conspiracy to distribute significant quantities of methamphetamine. According to the US Attorney's office, during the course of their multiagency investigation and the service of 7 search warrants in the Salem area, including the one leading to this incident, agents seized high purity methamphetamine, two handguns and a rifle.
Although this incident did not involve the use of deadly force as defined by statute, Oregon State Police in conjunction with the Marion County District Attorney's Office chose to use the protocols and procedures set forth in the counties Senate Bill 111 use of deadly physical force response plan. The Salem Police Department conducted an independent, thorough investigation which included the collection and analysis of physical evidence and interviewing all independent witnesses, each officer involved in serving the federal search warrant, and Mr. Avila. Once complete, the Salem investigation was turned over in its entirety to the Marion County District Attorney's Office for review. The DA's office carefully reviewed all investigative reports, transcripts of interviews, and physical evidence. The District Attorney's investigation did not include taking the case before the Grand Jury.
An independent review by the District Attorney's Juvenile Delinquency Deputy determined that there is probable cause that the juvenile, Avila, committed the offense of interfering with a peace officer. The DA's office referred the case to the Marion County Juvenile Department. Because Avila is a juvenile, the DA's office is prohibited from releasing the police reports regarding the incident pursuant to ORS 419A.255 (2), absent a juvenile court order. While it has been our practice to immediately make the investigative reports available to the public in officer involved use of force cases, there is a statute that directly prohibits release in cases such as this in order to protect the juvenile involved. Also, because this incident is part of a juvenile referral and a federal criminal case that is ongoing, the DA's office is prohibited from publicly disclosing or discussing the specific facts of the case until the conclusion of those matters.