Grand jury rules Roseburg police shooting justified

By Chris M Lehman (KLCC)
March 11, 2023 3:51 p.m.

A grand jury has ruled that Roseburg police officers were justified in using deadly force when they shot and killed a man at an overnight warming shelter last week.

Douglas County District Attorney Rick Wesenberg said state police first spotted the 20-year-old Grants Pass man walking on the shoulder of I-5 near Roseburg on the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 27. He said the man, identified as Mia Tulasi Dasa, who also used the name Benjamin Emptage, appeared to be confused and was walking dangerously close to passing vehicles. Police summoned a local mental health provider before taking Dasa to the shelter.


Wesenberg said in the middle of the night, Dasa attacked a female shelter volunteer by forcefully pushing her to the floor, then stabbed three people staying at the shelter who intervened on the woman’s behalf. The victims included a man who was stabbed in the face.

Wesenberg said Dasa then tried to grab the gun of a responding Roseburg police officer.


More police arrived at the warming shelter, and summoned medical assistance for the stabbing victims. Wesenberg said police used a taser, pepper spray and a beanbag gun but Dasa continued to advance on officers with a pair of scissors.

He said one officer fired his gun three times, striking Dasa, who fell to the floor and began stabbing himself with the scissors. Wesenberg said an autopsy determined the cause of death to be the gunshot wounds.

“Not only was (the shooting) justified, based on the deliberate and intentional actions of Dasa, it was simply unavoidable,” said Wesenberg at a press conference Friday morning. “The six officers ... used every potential tool, every potential technique from their extensive training and experience to bring this situation to a peaceful resolution.”

Roseburg Police Chief Gary Klopfenstein praised his department’s actions.

“The call at the warming center was a call that no law enforcement officer wants to respond to,” he said. “Our officers swiftly responded to the call for service, made sure the citizens at the warming center were out of harm’s way, and tried their best to de-escalate the situation.”

The three stabbing victims received nonfatal injuries and are expected to recover.

The warming center remained closed for several days, then re-opened in a different location. With overnight lows expected to stay above freezing, the shelter has since closed.