Clackamas County Sheriff’s deputy shoots, kills person during traffic stop

By Jonathan Levinson (OPB)
Sept. 27, 2021 8:10 p.m. Updated: Sept. 28, 2021 2:54 a.m.

A Clackamas County Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed Nathan Thomas Honeycutt, 26, early Monday morning during a traffic stop, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.

According to a Monday evening press release from the district attorney’s office, deputies first attempted to stop Honeycutt for driving without license plates but he didn’t stop. The DA said deputies did not pursue Honeycutt, but when they saw him turn down a dead end street, officers put out spike strips to stop Honeycutt when he came back.


Officials said only that the deputies were able to stop the vehicle, at which point officers tried to arrest Honeycutt. The district attorney’s office said he resisted and pulled a revolver before police shot and killed him.

Honeycutt was white.

Three deputies were involved in the incident: Jansen Bento, Sam Tharpe and Matt Roach. The district attorney did not say which deputy killed Honeycutt.

One of the deputies suffered a minor hand injury. The truck Honeycutt was driving was stolen

The deadly traffic stop comes a week after Clackamas County Sheriff Angela Brandenburg announced deputies will only pursue vehicles if they believe a felony has been committed or they pose an immediate danger to the public. That announcement came after a Sept. 16 pursuit of a shoplifting suspect resulted in a death.


The Oregonian/OregonLive reported last week that Brandenburg wrote in an email to all sheriff’s office employees that she was “refining her expectations” about police pursuits.

“Members of the Sheriff’s Office may engage in vehicle pursuits only when there is reasonable suspicion to believe the suspect committed a felony person crime or where the suspect’s driving conduct, prior to the initiation of a stop, displays a willful disregard for the safety of others that reasonably places the public in immediate danger of serious bodily harm or death,” the new guidance states.

Neither the district attorney nor the sheriff responded to questions asking if Monday’s pursuit violated that new guidance.

Traffic stops are the most common reason people interact with law enforcement, and can lead to tragic outcomes. In 2020, police killed 120 people during traffic stops according to the site Mapping Police Violence, which tracks police use of force across the country using law enforcement data and media reports.

The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office caught the attention of the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission last year after a review of 51 state law enforcement agencies found that it was the only agency deficient in two out of the three metrics used to assess bias in traffic and pedestrian stops.

In June, Clackamas Deputy Casey Newton shot and killed 44-year-old Jeremiah Lee Wright. That shooting also happened during a traffic stop in Happy Valley. Newton pulled Wright over because his vehicle did not have a license plate. He then discovered the vehicle was stolen, prompting Wright to flee, first in the vehicle and then on foot.

The deputies involved in Monday’s shooting are on administrative leave pending an investigation into the shooting.

The investigation is being led by the Clackamas County Major Crimes Team and the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office.