The two officers who shot and wounded a Sunriver teenager in Madras fired their weapons after he shot at one of them, the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.
After reviewing a multi-agency law enforcement investigation, District Attorney Steven Leriche determined Jefferson County Deputy Joseph Aldred and Oregon State Police Sgt. John Russo were justified in using deadly physical force. Both officers fired at 18-year-old Christopher James Thomas Sweeney, after the teenager fired a semi-automatic pistol at Aldred. Sweeney was seriously wounded and airlifted to St. Charles Bend, where he is still recovering. His current condition was unavailable.
Sweeney could face charges in Jefferson and Deschutes counties. His pistol was found at the scene with a damaged bullet casing still in the chamber, indicating a possible malfunction, according to the investigation.
The shooting occurred Nov. 2 after police chased Sweeney, who was allegedly driving a stolen 2014 Chevrolet Venture minivan from Lava Butte, south of Bend, to Madras, where he lost control and stopped at L Street and U.S. Highway 97, Oregon State Police said.
The investigation was conducted by the Central Oregon Major Incident Team, which includes agencies from Jefferson and Deschutes counties.
According to the findings:
On Nov. 1, Sweeney walked away from the J Bar J Ranch, an independent-living program in Bend where he was enrolled after being paroled from a youth correctional facility. He left six hours after arriving.
When his grandparents found out he left, they became concerned he might try to burglarize their Deschutes County house. Other family members checked on the house and found two vehicles, the minivan and a 2007 Toyota Highlander, were stolen. Law enforcement officers later learned Sweeney was driving the minivan and the Toyota was being driven by Corey Joseph Gallagher, 19, of Portland.
A Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office deputy spotted the two vehicles on U.S. Highway 97 near Lava Butte shortly after the vehicles were reported stolen Nov. 2.
Bend Police assisted Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office in trying to stop the two vehicles. Gallagher was stopped on the Bend Parkway near Robal Road. He was arrested without incident during what police called a “high risk” stop.
Gallagher had an initial court appearance Friday in Deschutes County Circuit Court on a charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Gallagher, who posted bail, is due back in court Thursday for an arraignment on an indictment.
While Gallagher stopped on the parkway, Sweeney continued north on U.S. Highway 97 in the minivan, according to the investigation. Officers laid down spike strips multiple times throughout the pursuit, but Sweeney was able to continue into Jefferson County.
At that point, Aldred joined the pursuit and took the lead position, followed by Russo. Sweeney continued into Madras, where he lost control at L Street.
The investigation revealed Aldred approached the front of the minivan while Sgt. Russo approached the rear. Aldred gave multiple commands to Sweeney, who did not comply.
Instead, Sweeney held his pistol with both hands and pointed it at Aldred, the investigation showed. Sweeney then fired at Aldred, according to the investigation. Both officers fired back, wounding Sweeney.
An Oregon state trooper on the scene helped Russo to secure Sweeney on the ground, and they both began first aid. Paramedics arrived and transported Sweeney to St. Charles Madras, where he was then transported to helicopter to Bend.
The Sweeney shooting was the fourth in Central Oregon in the last 18 months.
Michael Jacques was shot by Bend Police on Dec. 23, 2016, after being stopped for allegedly driving while intoxicated.
On Aug. 25, 2016, Redmond Police responded to the area of Canal Boulevard near St. Charles Redmond after receiving reports of a person pointing a handgun at passing motorists. Redmond Police Officer Cory Buckley arrived in his police vehicle and struck the 63-year-old suspect, Michael Gaskill, who died two days later.
On May 31, 2016, Oregon State Police Senior Trooper Richard Brannin fatally shot Nicholas Berger, 36, of Bend, who had been holding a gift shop employee at the High Desert Museum at knifepoint.
— Reporter: 541-617-7820, email@example.com