The city of Bend’s insurance company will pay $800,000 to the family of a man shot and killed by a Bend police officer in December 2016.
In a settlement agreement signed this week, the city does not admit liability or fault for the officer-involved shooting of Michael Tyler Jacques, 31. Still, Jennifer Coughlin, an attorney for Jacques’ family, said the settlement and discussions during mediation helped his mother, Karen Jacques, find closure.
“She’s still suffering, but I think she feels some degree of relief,” Coughlin said.
Bend Police officers Scott Schaier and Marc Tisher pulled Jacques over on Dec. 23 because of reports that he was driving erratically. An autopsy later confirmed that Jacques had a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit.
Within minutes, Schaier had fired five shots with his handgun, hitting Jacques in the head and shoulder blade and killing him. Schaier and Tisher reported that Jacques had been trying to escape in his minivan, putting pedestrians and both officers at risk.
An Oregon Department of Justice investigation that ended in July concluded there wasn’t sufficient evidence to find Schaier criminally liable. Schaier still works for Bend Police, and Tisher has retired, Bend Police Lt. Clint Burleigh, a spokesman for the department, said Friday.
Shortly after Jacques’ shooting, Bend Police revisited the idea of equipping officers with body cameras. Police went as far as budgeting $40,000 to buy cameras during the 2013-14 budget cycle, but they decided not to after the state Legislature passed laws regulating when cameras could be turned off and how data must be stored and processed.
Burleigh said the department has not purchased any body cameras. Bend Police Chief Jim Porter wrote in an email Friday they could be included in the department’s 2020 budget after the costs of equipping all officers and managing the video data are explored.
The Jacques shooting did not prompt changes in department training, which Porter said has included more than $100,000 in crisis intervention training in recent years, largely because officers have become the primary point of contact for the mentally ill. Two out of every three officers has advanced crisis management skills, Porter said.
“It is important to note that between 2012 and 2017, the number of mental health calls Bend officers responded to has increased by 102 percent, to nearly seven mental health crises calls per day,” Porter said. “During this same period from 2012 to 2017, the use of force by Bend Police officers on average has dropped by 34 percent.”
The settlement agreement does not stipulate that Bend Police change any policies for how officers deal with mental health crises or decide to use force, as a $700,000 settlement reached late last year in Polk County did. In that case, 29-year-old Salem resident Joshua Bolster was shot and killed during a traffic stop by sheriff’s deputies who were unaware he was mentally ill.
Karen Jacques previously told The Bulletin her son struggled with learning disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorder. Reached by phone Friday, Jacques said she decided not to comment after speaking with Coughlin.
“She doesn’t think any good will come out of it,” Jacques said.
Coughlin said the emotional component of the settlement, and especially being able to talk to Porter during mediation, brought Karen Jacques comfort.
“The mother is grieving on a daily basis, missing her son,” Coughlin said. “This won’t let her hug Tyler again, but it does bring a degree of closure.”
Changing police policies in response to Michael Tyler Jacques’ death didn’t come up during the mediation, said Ian Leitheiser, Bend assistant city attorney.
Before the Jacques shooting, the last person killed by Bend Police was Tyler Keinonen, 31, an unarmed man who was shot in 2013 by an officer responding to a reported burglary. Keinonen’s family sued the city for $7 million, and the case was dismissed with prejudice. Leitheiser said he believes that case was settled, but he didn’t know the settlement amount.
The city’s insurance company, City County Insurance, will pay the $800,000, meaning taxpayers won’t foot the bill for the settlement. However, Leitheiser said paying out settlements probably can result in higher insurance premiums.
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