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Officer kills motorcyclist.

Byline: Rebecca Nolan The Register-Guard

SHOOTING IN SPRINGFIELD

SPRINGFIELD - A Springfield police officer shot and killed a man Thursday who pulled a gun from his waistband after a motorcycle chase.

Witnesses said the man crashed the motorcycle, scuffled with the officer and drew the handgun, prompting the officer to fire four or five rounds into the man's chest.

Oregon State Police will investigate the shooting, which happened at 4:45 p.m. in the intersection of Main and Mill streets. Neither the officer nor the dead man was immediately identified.

Springfield police Chief Jerry Smith said the investigation had only just begun. But, based on witness statements and other evidence, "it's pretty clear-cut to me," he said. "What are you going to do if someone pulls a gun on you?"

Police later said the victim's semi-automatic pistol was loaded and had been reported as stolen.

Traffic was diverted from the area as investigators documented the scene.

The man's body lay on the sidewalk, his hands and feet visible beneath a yellow plastic sheet. At one point, officers lifted the sheet and blood could be seen on the front of the man's black T-shirt.

The shooting unfolded just feet in front of Cody Englund, who was visibly shaken as he recounted the incident.

The man had crashed his motorcycle in front of the 20-year-old Eugene man's car after speeding through a red light on southbound Mill Street and darting into Main Street traffic. He was being pursued by a motorcycle officer after police said he disobeyed a traffic light at Mill and Centennial Boulevard.

Englund slammed on his brakes and watched in shock as the man ignored the officer's orders to get on the ground. The officer hit him with his baton as the two struggled. "The guy kept tugging on his belt buckle the whole time," Englund said.

The officer pulled out his gun and repeated his verbal commands. "The cop hit him in the back of the helmet with the butt of his gun," Englund said.

That's when the man drew his own gun, prompting the officer to fire, Englund said. The suspect never fired at the officer.

"He never got a chance" to pull the trigger, Englund said. "The cop shot him before he could."

Englund said he was afraid the man would shoot him or his passenger. He praised the officer's reaction.

"I just want to make it clear that the cop did the right thing," Englund said. "If he was here, I would shake his hand. I will say that to anybody. He did the right thing."

Englund looked stunned as he stood with others who had gathered behind police tape.

"This is something you see on TV. You don't actually sit 10 feet away and watch it happen right in front of you," he said.

More than a year has passed since Springfield police have been involved in a fatal shooting. On June 26, 2005, Springfield police officer Ethan Spencer fatally shot 15-year-old Jason Michael Porter in the driver's seat of a stolen pickup truck. Spencer told investigators he thought he saw a weapon in Porter's hand. The teen was unarmed.

The officer involved in Thursday's shooting has been with the police department for more than 20 years, the police chief said.

He was being interviewed at the police department Thursday and will be placed on paid administrative leave while state police investigate the shooting, Smith said. A separate internal investigation will determine whether any department policies were violated.

The dead man's sister arrived at the scene about an hour after the shooting. When approached by a reporter, she swore and threatened physical violence.

Police expect to release the name of the officer and the man who was shot today.
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Title Annotation:Crime; Witnesses said the policeman shot the man after the two scuffled and the man pulled a gun out of his waistband
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 21, 2006
Words:625
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