Central Point, Ore. – A grand jury has cleared a Central Point Police officer in a shooting that occurred at Don Jones Memorial Park last month.
On February 19, 2017, an officer identified by the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office as Officer D. Brown was in his patrol vehicle stopped at a red light at the intersection of East Pine Street and the I-5 northbound on-ramp.
The D.A.’s Office said a red Chevy Camaro driven by Justin Daniel Lopez stopped at the light next to Officer Brown. After a few seconds, the Camaro started spinning its tires and drove through the red light.
Office Brown pursued the Camaro at speeds over 70 miles-per-hour until Lopez finally parked the car at Don Jones Memorial Park.
Lopez stepped out of his vehicle and pointed what appeared to be a rifle at Officer Brown, according to the D.A.
Brown took cover behind his vehicle in case Lopez started to fire. With Lopez approaching the vehicle, the officer noticed the rifle was actually a shotgun. Lopez was observed in the apparent act of attempting to chamber a round into the shotgun.
According to the D.A., Brown knew his ballistic vest would not prevent a shotgun blast at close range. He told Lopez to drop the weapon, but Lopez continued to approach and Brown fired his weapon six times. One of those shots struck Lopez in the pelvic region.
The D.A. said Lopez fell to the ground before more officers arrived at the scene. One of the responding officers said Lopez was on the ground screaming at the officers to just kill him.
Officers were able to separate Lopez from the shotgun and administer first-aid. It became evident the shotgun was not loaded. He was taken to the hospital with a single gunshot wound to his pelvic region.
On March 3, 2017, a Jackson County Grand Jury convened in order to decide if Officer Brown should be criminally charged in the incident.
Jurors were presented with video evidence showing Lopez walking across the field-of-view of the camera while racking the shotgun. The jury also heard from witnesses, one of whom said they received a text message from Lopez less than twenty minutes before the shooting. The D.A.’s office said the “essence of those text messages was that Mr. Lopez loved them and that he was sorry.”
The D.A.’s office said the grand jury deliberated for less than five minutes before announcing the shooting was fully justified and in compliance with the law.
The grand jury also indicted Lopez on charges of unlawful use of weapon, attempt to elude, menacing, reckless driving and pointing a firearm at another.