The Washington County district attorney’s office announced Monday it would turn over the investigation of a deadly police shooting that raised “concerns” to the Oregon Department of Justice. That leaves it up to the state to determine whether to bring criminal charges against the officer involved.
On Jan. 6, former Tigard Police Officer Gabriel Maldonado shot and killed Jacob Ryan Macduff, 26, during what Tigard police said was a domestic violence call. Macduff’s roommate, friends and mother all said he was experiencing a mental health crisis.
District Attorney Kevin Barton said his decision to involve the state attorney general stemmed from one of the new policing reforms passed by the Oregon Legislature last summer amid historic protests following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.
“I am requesting the Attorney General’s Office review the investigation and make the determination regarding criminal responsibility,” Barton wrote. “Your review of the evidence and application of HB 4301 to that evidence will provide the independent evaluation I believe is necessary, given the concerns I have developed regarding this incident.”
The request means an assistant attorney general will be named as a special deputy district attorney for Washington County.
Barton declined to comment and did not elaborate on what concerns his office’s own investigation raised. A spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Justice didn’t return a request for comment late Monday.
House Bill 4301, signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown on Sept. 1, made changes to how officers are allowed to use deadly force. The law restricts the use of chokeholds only to situations where deadly force would be authorized. It also effectively requires law enforcement to slow down before using force if the situation permits. It requires officers “consider alternatives” to physical and deadly force and mandates officers give a verbal warning and a reasonable opportunity to comply before using force if “a reasonable opportunity to do so exists.”
During the Jan. 6 shooting, Tigard police said Macduff was locked in his truck with a knife when they arrived. In the process of trying to arrest him, a scuffle ensued and Maldonado shot and killed Macduff.
In an April 22 statement, Macduff’s mother, Maria Macduff, said her son became scared when police arrived and hid in his truck, which was registered to Maria Macduff. When police called and asked her for permission to break the window, she said she granted permission but cautioned them that he was in a fragile mental state, and that they should be gentle with him.
Immediately following the shooting, Maldonado was placed on critical incident leave pending an investigation. More than two months before the shooting, Maldonado was offered a job at the Port of Portland Police Department, but the shooting paused the hiring process.
Tigard Police Chief Kathy McAlpine allowed him to return to work on Feb. 23 despite the ongoing investigation. Maldonado resigned from Tigard Police Department on April 15 and started with the Port of Portland Police on April 19.
The Port of Portland only became aware of the ongoing criminal investigation after OPB first reported Maldonado’s status.
He has since been placed back on administrative leave.
The investigation into Macduff’s killing was conducted by the Washington County Major Crimes Team. On April 27, the same day OPB reported that Maldonado had started with a new department while still under criminal investigation, the team of investigators turned their findings over to the district attorney’s office.