Jackson County Grand Jury Finds OSP Trooper Justified in I5 Shooting

On March 15, 2022, a Jackson County Grand Jury convened to consider whether the Oregon State Police Trooper was justified in his use of lethal force against Cole Reeves, and whether there was sufficient evidence to return an indictment on the criminal charges against Cole Reeves (DOB 5/29/96).

Here is the link to the previous article regarding this incident.

The incident occurred on March 6, 2022, near mile marker 50 on southbound Interstate 5. The Grand Jury was asked to consider two separate issues. First, whether the action of the involved officer was justified as a lawful use of deadly physical force. Oregon law provides that a police officer may use deadly physical force against another person when it is objectively reasonable, under the totality of circumstances known to the peace office, to believe the person poses an imminent threat ofdeath or serious physical injury to the peace officer or to a third person, and the use of deadly physical force is necessary to defend the peace officer or a third person from the imminent threat of death or serious physical injury. The second issue for the Grand Jury was if there is sufficient evidence to hold over the suspect on the submitted criminal charges.

Officer Identified:
Trooper Ellis has been employed by the Oregon State Police since May 2019. He previously worked as a jail deputy in Lane County for approximately 16 months. His current assignment is patrol.

Testimony and Evidence Presented to the Grand Jury:
Oregon State Police Trooper Ellis saw a white Jeep Commander engaged in reckless driving on southbound Interstate 5. When he attempted contact with the vehicle, he found the vehicle was weaving in and out of traffic at high-rates of speed, reaching 118mph at one point. Trooper Ellis activated lights and sirens on his marked patrol vehicle. Trooper Ellis witnessed the suspect’s vehicle, while driving in excess of 100 mph rear end another vehicle; later determined to be driven by Darlene Trahern. Ms. Trahern suffered minor injuries from the collision. The suspect’s vehicle then crashed in the median between Southbound and Northbound lanes

Trooper Ellis was dressed in uniform, displaying a badge, and had his bodycam activated. As Trooper Ellis exited his vehicle he saw the suspect open his door while digging for something on the passenger side of the vehicle. Trooper Ellis began giving commands to the suspect, telling him to remain in the vehicle. The suspect exited the vehicle with a 7-inch Santoku knife in each hand, raised to shoulder height. The suspect then began approaching Trooper Ellis. The approximate distance from the suspect’s car door to the trooper’s car door was 106 feet. Trooper Ellis gave commands to drop the knives, and could be heard telling the suspect to get back in the car and that he did not want to shoot him. The suspect continued to approach Trooper Ellis and could be heard saying, “I have to be shot.” The suspect stopped walking, and began making aggressive hand movements with the knives, bringing them higher above his shoulders and gesturing forward toward the trooper several times. He began moving toward the trooper again, at which point Trooper Ellis fired four rounds at the suspect. The trooper stopped firing once the suspect dropped to the ground. The distance from where the suspect fell to the ground to the trooper’s car door was between 20 and 21 feet.

Trooper Ellis testified he feared for his own life. Trooper Ellis also testified he knew he had poor portable radio service in the area where the shooting occurred, which limited his ability to call for backup if he moved. Trooper Ellis testified when the suspect stopped approaching briefly, he hoped they would be able to talk without any use of force, but when the suspect began approaching again, while gesturing with the knives, he was in fear for his life and did not believe the suspect was going to stop.

The suspect was taken to the hospital and later identified as Cole Reeves. The suspect is still in the hospital, receiving treatment for gunshot wounds to the torso and arm.

Conclusion:
Jackson County requires a grand jury make the determination as to whether the officer’s use of force was justified under Oregon law. The Grand Jury determined the involved officer. Trooper Ellis, was fully justified in his use of lethal force and in compliance with Oregon law. This case was presented to the Grand Jury by District Attorney Beth Heckert. The Grand Jury also retumed an indictment against Cole Reeves on charges of Attempted Assault in the First Degree, Assault in the Third Degree, Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Police Offieer, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Menacing, Reckless Driving, Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree, and Recklessly Endangering Another Person. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy District Attorney Alyssa Claseman.
Because Cole Reeves has been indicted, no further evidence or information will be released.

Courtesy of Jackson County DA’s Office

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