The District Attorney in Deschutes County has cleared a Bend police officer in the death of a 62-year-old emergency room patient this summer.
According to interviews conducted by the Oregon State Police, Jerry Nichols was admitted to the ER after complaining of shortness of breath. Police were called in after Nichols became combative toward a nurse.
When Officer Steven Craig approached, Nichols reportedly took a swing at him. In the ensuing scuffle, Craig deployed his Taser but it proved ineffective.
Nichols went into cardiac arrest. He died 8 days later.
“This is a very unfortunate tragedy. There’s no doubt about that. But the officer did what he was trained to do and based on the information that he had his use of force was appropriate and lawful,” Deschutes County District Attorney Patrick Flaherty said.
A medical examiner later determined the Nichols died because of chronic lung disease and the physical stress of that day’s fighting.
The death was listed as a homicide. But Flaherty says that’s a medical term, not a legal one and it doesn’t ascribe criminal intent on the part of the officer.