An Oregon State Police sergeant was justified in shooting and seriously wounding an armed Montana fugitive who refused to drop his gun during a confrontation in the woods northeast of Madras in late April, Jefferson County District Attorney Steve Leriche ruled Tuesday.
OSP Sgt. Mike Turner fired three shotgun blasts during the April 26 pursuit and confrontation wounded Zande Joshua Barnacascel, 56, but the first did not stop him from running away, in the direction where Leriche said he might "have met and confronted or even ambushed" other officers involved in the pursuit.
Leriche said Turner was justified in using deadly force under state law, as "it was reasonable for him to believe this life and the life of others were endangered."
OSP officials said Turner, who was placed on paid administrative leave under agency policies, is due to return to regular duty by mid-June
Leriche said Tuesday that a judge agreed to let Barnacascel stay with a family member under conditions after his release from the hospital, pending a June 13 court appearance. He took part in two previous hearings by phone from his hospital bed, the DA said.
At this point, Barnacascel has been indicted on one new local charge, of being a felon in possession of a firearm, but Leriche said "there are likely to be other" charges filed.
Here's Leriche's full news release on the results of his review of the case:
Jefferson County District Attorney Steven Leriche announced Tuesday, June 4, 2013, that he has concluded his review of the Oregon State Police (OSP) officer-involved shooting on April 26, near Darrar Drive north of Madras. The shooting resulted in serious injury to ZANDE JOSHUA BARNACASCEL, age 56.
A full investigation of the incident was conducted by the Central Oregon Major Crime Team comprised of law enforcement agencies from Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson Counties. Law enforcement agencies involved in the interagency investigation included Oregon State Police, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Madras Police Department, Warm Springs Police Department, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Bend Police Department, and Crook County Sheriff’s Office.
On Friday, April 26, 2013, law enforcement agencies attempted to apprehend BARNACASCEL who was a fugitive felon from the State of Montana. In addition to a valid warrant for his arrest, there was probable cause to believe he had engaged in criminal conduct in Jefferson County, Oregon. Law enforcement was advised that BARNACASCEL possessed violent tendencies and was an escape risk.
An airplane sighted him near Darrer Drive in a location near several farms. Law enforcement officers hiked into the hilly and wooded location to arrest BARNACASCEL. Oregon State Police Sergeant Mike Turner located the suspect and observed he was armed with a handgun. Sergeant Turner gave multiple verbal commands to BARNACASCEL to drop the weapon but he refused to comply and continued moving, using the trees for cover. BARNACASCEL was moving towards the location of other law enforcement officers and if allowed to proceed could have met and confronted or even ambushed these officers.
Sergeant Turner saw BARNACASCEL come from behind a tree, with his body turned in his direction. More verbal commands were given, but the suspect refused to drop his weapon, leading Sergeant Turner to fire his service shotgun at the suspect.
As BARNACASCEL ran, Sergeant Turner followed. BARNACASCEL came out from behind another tree and turned toward Sergeant Turner when more verbal commands were given to drop his firearm, but he failed to comply. Sergeant Turner fired his shotgun at the suspect two more times. Following the second shot, BARNACASCEL fell to the ground.
Sergeant Turner and OSP Trooper Matt Gordon quickly moved in and secured BARNACASCEL and his loaded semi-automatic handgun. First aid was immediately administered to BARNACASCEL before he was airlifted to St Charles Medical Center in Bend. The suspect made a statement at the time to the effect that he wished to die.
Criminal charges are pending against BARNACASCEL in Jefferson County.
The District Attorney is charged with the duty of reviewing incidents where deadly physical force is used by police to determine if the use of force was consistent under Oregon law.
During this incident, Sergeant Turner was justified in using deadly physical force under the circumstances he encountered and it was reasonable for him to believe that his life and the life of others were endangered.
District Attorney Leriche thanks the investigating agencies involved with the Central Oregon Major Crime Team for a thorough and detailed investigation of this event.