Tigard to pay $3.8 million in police shooting settlement

By April Ehrlich (OPB)
July 28, 2022 12:48 a.m.

City leaders also pledged changes within the police department.

Tigard will pay $3.8 million as part of a settlement agreement with the mother of a man shot and killed by a city police officer last year.

Officer Gabriel Maldonado killed Jacob Macduff on Jan. 6, 2021, as Macduff sat in his pickup truck parked outside the apartment complex where he lived, according to one of the attorneys representing Macduff’s mother, Maria Macduff.

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Attorney David Park told journalists at a press conference Wednesday that Jacob Macduff, 26, was experiencing a mental health crisis on the night of the shooting.

One man looks concerned at a TV screen, and another man to his right is using his hands to explain something, while the TV screen shows a computer graphic illustration of an officer aiming his gun into a driver's side window toward a  body lying face down in the truck's center console.

At a July 27, 2022, press conference in Portland, attorneys Scott Levin, left, and David Park reconstruct what happened on Jan. 6, 2021, when Tigard police shot and killed Jacob Macduff. The city agreed to pay Macduff's family $3.8 million in a settlement.

April Ehrlich / OPB

Officers arrived at the apartment complex where he lived in response to disturbance calls, Park said, and Macduff’s roommate told them he was experiencing a “psychotic episode.”

Park said police found Macduff alone in his pickup truck. After asking him to get out of the truck, one officer fired beanbag rounds into the windshield, and another officer fired five gunshots at Macduff.

“There was no reason not to simply wait for Jacob to make the decision to come out,” Park said. “We never got an explanation for the impatience of these officers, and because this case was indefensible, it’s settled. And hopefully the city of Tigard will take this opportunity to learn from this tragic mistake.”

As part of the settlement, the city agreed to cooperate with an independent outside review of that night, including “the actions of their officers, how their policies that existed at that time influenced those actions,” Park said.

Tigard Police Chief Kathy McAlpine issued a press release shortly after the press conference held by Maria Macduff’s attorneys.

“I want the community to know that this police department is committed to learning and growing from our experiences,” McAlpine said. “We did our own thorough review of this case, and have made several updates to policies, procedures and training as a result.”

Related: Mother demands answers after fatal police shooting in Tigard

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Those updates include implementing department-wide use of body cameras; using drones to handle incidents involving someone in a car that don’t require officers to be in close proximity; transitioning from beanbag shotguns to foam projectiles as non-lethal subduing options; clarifying the language in the department’s use-of-force policy; and additional de-escalation training.

The $3.8 million settlement costs will be paid by the city of Tigard’s insurance company, “which also makes the decision whether to settle and determines the settlement figure,” the city’s press release said.

Earlier this year, the Tigard Police Department conducted an internal review of its officers’ use of force that night and concluded that their behavior didn’t violate the city’s existing use-of-force policy.

In May 2021, Maria Macduff said during a press conference that officers called her during the standoff and asked her to talk to her son. After a brief wait, she was disconnected and not contacted again for two hours.

“So I waited and waited, and the phone went dead,” she said. “I was hoping they had taken him to the hospital and then, about two hours later, I got a call telling me that they had shot him – that they had killed him.”

During Wednesday’s press conference, Park reconstructed what the team of attorneys believed happened that night. Park said six officers responded to the call that night and asked Jacob Macduff to get out of his truck. Photos show officers’ vehicles completely blocking the vehicle. Park said officers had also deployed spike strips to keep Jacob Macduff from driving away.

Park said officers developed a plan that “involved breaking in the driver’s door window, reaching in, grabbing him and pulling him out either the open door or through the window and taking him into custody. There was nothing that precipitated that particular action. Jacob wasn’t threatening, he wasn’t making threats. He didn’t have any obvious weapons in his hands.”

Despite the plan, another officer fired three beanbag rounds into the windshield, striking Jacob Macduff, Park said. Park added that the attorneys believe that officer was responding to Maldonado breaking the driver’s side window.

The windshield of a pickup truck with three large holes  on the driver's side.

Jacob Macduff was shot and killed by police on Jan. 6, 2021, while sitting in his pickup truck. According to his family's attorneys, officers first fired beanbag rounds into Macduff's windshield.

Courtesy of attorneys representing Maria Macduff

“What we surmise happens as a result of that, and what the information the testimony or the statements given by the officers indicate, is that none of the officers knew the source of those [beanbag] shots, including Officer Maldonado,” Park said.

Shortly after the beanbag rounds, Maldonado shot Macduff five times at close range, Park said. He played a video from an officer’s dashboard camera that showed officers surrounding the truck and firing into it.

Park said the $3.8 million settlement is fairly large for such a case in Oregon.

Park said Maria Macduff “feels that she made a difference in pursuing this matter on behalf of Jacob, and so she’s pleased with that aspect.”

“It will never bring her son back,” Park said. “She wished she never had to go through this.”

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