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Charges dropped in shooting incident.

Byline: Bill Bishop The Register-Guard

Charges have been dropped against a man arrested in September after his handgun discharged during a scuffle outside a downtown Eugene bar, slightly injuring a bystander.

Prosecutors said they cannot prove that 25-year-old Mathew James Hangsleben, an Army veteran, intentionally fired the weapon, or that he was not acting lawfully in self-defense.

Deputy Lane County District Attorney Erik Hasselman said the decision came after a meeting between himself, Eugene police detectives, Hangsleben and his lawyer, Robert Manders.

"It was our conclusion there was no way we could prove, one, that this was a knowing discharge of a weapon rather than an accidental (discharge). And he was lawfully in possession of the weapon. Also, there was no way we could overcome a self-defense claim," Hasselman said.

The 2:22 a.m. incident Sept. 25 unfolded just after closing time at the Indigo District on the corner of 13th Avenue and Oak Street.

In an interview Thursday, Hangsleben said he was not intoxicated and has a receipt to show he paid his bar tab hours before the incident. After the house lights came up at closing time, Hangsleben said he was standing inside by the door waiting for his girlfriend to return from the restroom when a bouncer grabbed him and pushed him out onto the sidewalk. He said there was no fight between them.

"There were no punches. We weren't fighting. We were holding onto each other for balance," said Hangsleben, who weighs 135 pounds and had a state concealed handgun license. Hangsleben said he turned to walk westbound along 13th Avenue when someone he could not see shoved him hard from the right side.

As he struggled to stay on his feet, the pair stumbled into 13th Avenue and fell to the pavement. Hangsleben said he later learned it was the bouncer pushing him, but others were gathering around nearby. In a scuffle on the pavement, he felt someone try to pull his 9mm handgun from his waistband holster.

Hangsleben said it discharged as he tried to regain control of the weapon to prevent it from possibly being used against him.

A witness told police he was standing on Hangsleben's hand - which held the gun - when it fired, Deputy Lane County District Attorney Bob Lane said.

Hangsleben said he has no memory of anyone standing on his arm. But he noted the street was filled with people, some intoxicated.

The bullet grazed the head of 24-year-old Julian Pscheid and lodged in a metal window frame of the bar building. Pscheid, one of about 30 bystanders, said several minutes passed before he realized the bullet had struck him.

He refused medical treatment at the scene.

The close call left Pscheid, a Portland resident and University of Oregon graduate, feeling lucky, but angry. On Thursday, he said he was "speechless" at learning charges would be dropped.

"I was lucky to get away with my life. I had hoped the law would take care of it," Pscheid said. "I'm over it. I've moved on with my life."

Hangsleben, a four-year Army veteran who served nine months in Iraq disarming booby traps, car bombs and unexploded ordnance, spent three days in jail on charges of unlawful use of a weapon and felony assault before depositing security for release. He said the incident has damaged his reputation and blocked his efforts to find a job.

"I'm very, very glad no one was seriously hurt," he said. "All I'm concerned about right now is getting my life back together and moving on."

Indigo District owner Justin Gibbs said he stands behind the way his staff handled the situation.

"We are disappointed to hear that Hangsleben will not be facing the consequences for recklessly endangering so many lives," Gibbs said. "I commend my staff for their bravery and de-escalating the situation in a responsible manner."
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Title Annotation:Crime; Prosecutors say they can't prove that the gun was intentionally fired, or that it was not fired in self-defense
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 18, 2005
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