MEDFORD, Ore. — Last week, a Jackson County grand jury ruled an Eagle Point police officer was lawful in his use of deadly force against Matthew Graves.
While the case is over on the criminal side, the Graves family could still file a civil suit against the city of Eagle Point.
“When that piece of information came in, I knew we had a civil case…,” said attorney David Lindhorst.
Less than a week after body camera footage was released from the officer-involved shooting in Eagle Point, the family of Matthew Thayer Graves, the man shot and killed by police, is strongly considering legal action.
It’s the same footage a grand jury saw last week before 5 out of the 7 jurors decided Officer Cardenas acted lawfully in his use of deadly force.
The altercation started outside the city’s Carl’s Junior and moved inside the men’s restroom.
“It was testified by grand jury that it was maybe 4 ft by 8 ft area,” said Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert.
Graves was shot and killed when during a struggle…a second officer who showed up… saw what he thought was a gun, but it was a taser.
“Officer Cardenas has already heard gun, is it a gun? and Officer Cardenas is now unholstering his firearm…,” said District Attorney Heckert.
But it’s the minutes before Graves’ death that caught David Lindhorst’s eye.
“At every opportunity to deescalate, the situation was actually escalated,” Lindhorst said.
The family’s attorney says they’re most focused on the interaction between Graves and the officer. He believes more happened before the body camera footage was even on.
“Something that Matthew references several times…don’t talk to me like that, but all the officer is saying several times is dude what are you doing? what the *f* are you doing,” he said.
Still, the footage is just one of many things the family’s attorney says he’s looking into. He also hopes to speak with witnesses from inside the Carl’s Junior, all of whom weren’t available to testify at the grand jury proceeding.
“They’re just like a camera. They may have seen, they may not have seen…,” Lindhorst said.
But what it’s really about, he says, is seeking the truth.
“We’re asking a lot of questions and wanting to know why that started and why that unfolded the way it did in the camera…” he said.
At this point, the family’s attorney says they’re still gathering information and wouldn’t confirm plans to file a lawsuit. Meanwhile, Eagle Point Police Chief Darin May says the department is meeting with the city’s attorney this week.
Amanda Rose is a multimedia journalist for NBC5 News. Amanda graduated from Columbia University earning a Master’s degree in Journalism. She also received a Bachelor’s degree in English with a specialization in literature from the University of British Columbia.
She’s a Los Angeles native, but is thrilled to return to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is passionate about reporting on the criminal justice system.