The sheriff’s deputy who fired two bullets into a fleeing suspect two months ago at The Fun Farm north of Bend will not face criminal charges, according to Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel.
Deputy Christopher Jones was found to have lawfully used deadly force when he shot Brandon A. Berrett as Berrett allegedly drove from officers who came to arrest him Oct. 12 for an alleged probation violation, Hummel said Friday.
Taking part in the attempted arrest were five deputies, including two trainees who were there to observe the more experienced officers.
“Mr. Berrett’s decision to drive a car in a dangerous manner toward deputy Jones and his ride-along is what resulted in the shots being fired,” Hummel said.
The bullets were fired about 10:42 a.m. as the sheriff’s deputies converged on the Fun Farm. Berrett’s father is a caretaker at the property who rents space at the back of the property to park a trailer. Sheriff’s deputies knew Berrett occasionally stayed there, too.
Several miles north of Bend off U.S. Highway 97, the Fun Farm — which was known for years as the “Funny Farm” — was for decades a popular roadside attraction known for its large collection of “Wizard of Oz” memorabilia and eccentric costume shop. But upkeep of the property has slowed as the sole surviving owner has grown older.
As four of the deputies attempted to contact Berrett in his father’s fifth wheel trailer, Berrett attempted to flee out the other side. As officers approached, he hopped into a silver Volkswagen Beetle that had been idling and drove in the direction of Jones, who was on the other side of the trailer.
The car was “inches” from Jones when the sheriff’s deputy pulled the trigger, Hummel said.
Struck twice, Berrett crashed into an upturned satellite dish and rocks. Officers took him into custody, and 20 minutes later, he was loaded into an ambulance and sent to St. Charles Bend.
According to sheriff’s officers, Berrett was later overheard saying he was “only trying to get away.” Berrett is thought to have been under the influence of meth at the time, Hummel said Friday.
Hummel criticized several decisions made by deputies during the attempted arrest, including bringing two trainees to a property he called a “tactical nightmare,” and not devising a plan ahead of time.
“If the three involved deputies were previously trained on the importance of devising tactical plans to ensure officer and public safety during the execution of warrant arrests, they need to undergo refresher training on the topic,” Hummel said.
Also Friday, seven criminal counts were filed against Berrett, 33, who survived the shooting with serious injuries after a two-week hospital stay. His charges include first-degree escape and driving under the influence of a controlled substance said to be methamphetamine.
At the Fun Farm Friday afternoon, B.A. Berrett, Brandon’s father, disputed several points made by law enforcement. He said though his son “isn’t a stranger” to police, he isn’t violent and has surrendered peacefully when he’s been arrested in the past.
“Why’d they have to do it?” he said, standing at the scene of the shooting. “This was attempted murder.”
Brandon Berrett was hit once in the back and once in the arm. His father said his son’s humerus bone was “shattered,” and the shot to his back passed an inch from his spine.
“I’m scared of the police here,” B.A. Berrett said. “They’re trigger-happy.”
Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson wouldn’t say Friday whether Jones, or any other employee, had been, or would be, disciplined over the incident.
Jones joined the sheriff’s office in 2007. Before the incident, he resigned as a training deputy, Nelson said.
In June, two investigations were opened into the use of deadly force by local law enforcement agencies, and in both instances, Hummel declined to press charges.
On June 20, Jesse Wayde Powell, 43, was shot to death at a campsite off Century Drive southwest of Bend. Hummel said Deschutes sheriff’s deputy Randy Zilk feared Powell was grabbing for weapon when he fired several rounds into Powell’s back.
On June 26, Timothy Bret Bontrager, 36, was shot at by a Bend officer during a DUI traffic stop outside Lowe’s Home Improvement. It was determined Bontrager had shot and killed himself during the stop, and the officers believed he was firing at them.
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