Grand Jury Decides if Deadly Force was Justified

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Wed, February 8 2012 at 11:03 PM, Updated: Thu, February 9 2012 at 1:51 AM

On Wednesday the Jackson County Grand Jury made up its mind on whether Medford Police officers were justified in shooting and killing 18-year-old Elias Ruiz.

Their answer? Yes. It only took them six minutes to come to the conclusion that the Medford Police were justified in using deadly force. 


"Deadly Force" Under Oregon Law

According to Oregon law, a police officer can use deadly force if the officer reasonably believes that person is about to use deadly physical force against the officer or another person.

The Grand Jury met at 9:30 Wednesday morning and heard from 14 witnesses.

Elias Ruiz was shot and killed in west Medford late January after a 9-1-1 call came from his home.

New Details Released

At a news conference Wednesday evening new details emerged.

Police said when they approached the front door of Ruiz's home, it was locked. Soon after that, they said Ruiz opened the door and immediately came at them, swinging a large 14-inch knife. Officers said they had no time for verbal commands.

Jackson County's Deputy District Attorney, Terry Smith-Norton, said "The knife Ruiz used and the manner in which he used it was capable of causing serious injury or death to the officers."

On Ruiz's Body: 3 Knives and a Bullet Proof Vest

It was later discovered that Ruiz had 3 knives on his body, one in his hand and one in each of his pant's pockets.

The distance between officers and Ruiz at the time of the shooting was between 2-6 feet and that's when a taser and gunshots were fired at about the same time. Five shots hit Ruiz -- who was wearing a law enforcement grade bullet proof vest.

Deputy District Attorney Smith-Norton said officers were not required to use a taser before resorting to deadly force.

What's Next for Medford Police?

The names of the officers involved were also released. Chief Tim George of the Medford Police said Officer J. Antley and Officer B. Hall will both have the opportunity to undergo counseling before returning from administrative leave. 

Because of the Grand Jury's decision, there will be no trial.

However the Medford Police Department, according to protocol, will still conduct their own internal investigation. The findings could be used in future training.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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