A Madras Police officer acted within the law when he fired 12 rounds into the windshield of a man said to be driving erratically and endangering lives in downtown Madras, the Jefferson County District Attorney has determined.
Madras resident Jordan Wayne Abbe, 30, received minor injuries in the Jan. 6 shooting by Sgt. Mel Brown, a 24-year veteran of the Madras Police Department. Following the incident, Abbe was taken to Jefferson County jail, where he remains. Madras officer Ryan Kathrein was also involved in the incident, but did not fire his weapon.
The incident received little attention at the time because it occurred as a riot seized the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
“Upon review of this incident, evidence supports the conclusion that Sergeant Brown was justified in using deadly physical force under the circumstances and it was reasonable for him to believe that his life and Officer Kathrein’s lives were endangered by ABBE’s actions,” Jefferson County District Attorney Steven Leriche wrote in a statement released Tuesday night.
Abbe’s attorney, Ricky Nelson, did not return a request for comment.
An overview of the facts of the incident was provided by Leriche, though the probable cause affidavit in Abbe’s case remains sealed from the public.
A person called police around 10:30 a.m. Jan. 6 to report Abbe was agitated that day and acting erratically. Officers declined to contact Abbe at that time because he was not suspected of breaking the law and police did not want to “escalate” his behavior, Leriche wrote.
“Officers were familiar with Abbe from prior contacts and elected not to contact Abbe at that time, as officers did not want to further agitate Abbe,” Leriche said.
At 11:51 a.m., Brown and Kathrein were parked at a business when they heard the screeching tires of a silver Chevrolet Monte Carlo as it pulled into the parking lot. Security camera footage shows the driver, Abbe, driving doughnuts around their patrol vehicles, Leriche said.
The officers told investigators that as Abbe stared at them, making eye contact, he nearly drove into their cars.
“Both officers told investigators they had never seen such unusual conduct throughout their careers in law enforcement,” Leriche wrote.
Abbe allegedly continued driving and led the officers into a residential neighborhood, periodically slamming his brakes in an apparent attempt to cause a rear-end collision, police say.
In the 400 block of NE Oak Street, Abbe reportedly crashed into Kathrein’s vehicle. The officers say at this point, Abbe “focused his attention” on Brown, who had gotten out of his vehicle. A witness said Abbe revved his engine.
“At that point, having no less-lethal option available to him and having no way to return to his own vehicle without giving Abbe the opportunity to strike him, and Abbe having already shown a willingness to use the deadly force of his vehicle against law enforcement, Sgt. Brown fired into Abbe’s vehicle,” Leriche wrote.
Abbe continued to stare at Brown as the officer fired 12 rounds into Abbe’s windshield. He made no effort to duck or avoid the gunfire, according to Brown.
Abbe was taken to St. Charles Madras, where he was treated for minor injuries. He was released and arrested.
Abbe is charged with seven criminal counts — fleeing a police officer and two counts each of unlawful use of a weapon, menacing and reckless endangering. He’s scheduled to be arraigned on those charges Thursday.
Brown was hired by Madras Police in 1996 having previously worked as a military police officer. Kathrein was hired in 2009 having previously worked for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Warm Springs Tribal Police Department.