PORTLAND, Ore. – A grand jury cleared four Oregon police officers in a fatal shooting after finding an armed man fired at authorities from a converted bus parked outside a Walmart store.
The panel decided the Salem officers were justified in using deadly force against 49-year-old Mark Hawkins of Eugene during the seven-hour standoff.
Hawkins was shot nine times, according to an autopsy. Toxicology results show he had methamphetamine, opiates and marijuana in his system.
"We thank the grand jury for their careful review of these very difficult circumstances," Marion County District Attorney Walt Beglau said in a statement Thursday night.
In summarizing the unanimous findings, the district attorney's office said the April 24 incident began when an officer ran a check on the license plate of a truck in the Walmart parking lot.
He discovered that Hawkins had a felony warrant from Lane County for failure to appear on a charge of delivery of a controlled substance.
Officers then contacted a 30-year-old woman in a bus next to the truck and discovered a warrant had been issued for her arrest. The woman cooperated with police and left the bus, but Hawkins hid in the back of the vehicle that had been converted to cramped living quarters.
A police dog was sent into the bus, but Hawkins still refused to leave. The grand jury findings say he yelled, "Which one of you guys wants to get shot first?"
Officers said they heard a gunshot and retreated. The dog suffered a gunshot wound to the side of its face.
Hawkins then fired at Officer Chad Galusha, hitting his gun, the report said. The gun was still operational, and Galusha returned three shots.
For the next several hours, a negotiator tried unsuccessfully to get Hawkins to surrender as the Walmart was placed in lockdown and streets were closed to traffic. Police deployed tear gas several times and Hawkins responded with gunfire, the grand jury found.
As daylight started to fade, officers sheared away the sides of the bus with two specialized armored trucks. Hawkins became visible to police and raised a pistol in their direction, the panel said.
Three police snipers fired at Hawkins and he fell from the bus.
The grand jury heard testimony from nine witnesses along with reviewing videos, photographs, scene diagrams, dispatch recordings, ballistic findings and the autopsy conclusions.
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