Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel announced Monday he will not charge the Medford man who shot another man who pulled out a switchblade outside the Jack in the Box in northeast Bend.
Heavy-equipment operator Robert Garris’ actions were determined to be “legally justified,” according to a release from Hummel’s office that goes on to criticize Garris’ “vigilante” worldview.
“Garris sought out and initiated the confrontation that ended with his firing his weapon,” Hummel said in the release.
On May 14, Garris, 39, was a guest at the Days Inn motel at 849 NE Third St. while in town to work on a nearby construction project.
He approached Christopher Nolan, 39, and another man.
Nolan pulled out a knife, and Garris pulled out his .40-caliber Glock 22 pistol. Garris yelled for Nolan to drop his weapon and when he didn’t, shot at Nolan seven times, striking him four times, Hummel said. Garris said he had feared for his life.
Nolan has a criminal record in Oregon dating to 1999, including numerous felony convictions for drugs, theft and assault. He was arrested in 2015 in Bend after challenging three police officers to kill him while he wielded a large knife. He reportedly began cutting his wrists and neck as he ran away.
Police took Garris in for questioning, and Nolan was treated by paramedics and taken to St. Charles Bend.
“When Nolan pulled out his knife and extended the blade, he threatened the use of imminent deadly force against Garris,” Hummel said. “Therefore, under Oregon law … Garris was authorized to use deadly force against Nolan.”
However, Hummel criticized Garris’ response, saying the man “anointed himself the Sheriff of the Days Inn” and several times confronted people who appeared poor and struggling and attempted to chase them off rather than reporting them to police.
“Garris seemed to think that people of low income were less worthy than he of being on the Days Inn property,” Hummel said, calling this view “repulsive.”
“When people carry a gun and thus feel emboldened to put themselves in dangerous situations that they would not otherwise put themselves in, their actions make our community less safe,” Hummel said in his statement.
Nolan remains a patient at St. Charles Bend.
— Reporter: 541-383-0325, firstname.lastname@example.org