EAGLE POINT, Ore. — On the anniversary of his death, those who knew Matthew Thayer Graves mostly want to look back and remember the good times they had with him.
Family and friends of Matthew Graves say he had a smile that “just lit up a room”. Thursday, Matthew Graves’ close family and friends gathered in front of the Eagle Point Carl’s Junior to remember him. The group lit candles and shared stories right outside of where Graves was shot one year ago today.
“They took his life but not his light,” a friend of Matthew said.
Right down the hill from the carls junior where he died, this group stands together to remember Matthew Graves an uncle, a friend who is missed.
“It’s a little easier to take but my heart’s still broken and it’s hard to talk about it and not cry, and just really still seeking some kind of justice,” Matthew’s friend, Tina Sandoval said.
They say Graves was taken from them too soon.
“It’s pretty sad to look back at where he was last, but it’s also good to let go a little bit,” Matthew’s niece, Kira Graves said.
They lit candles at 8:40, the exact time Graves were shot one year ago. Family and friends say Graves was a good person, but he struggled with schizophrenia.
“He lived his life loving other people,” Sandoval said.
Eagle Point police say Graves was not complying with an officer and ended up in a physical struggle. A second officer showed up, and during the fight saw what he thought was a gun. It was, in fact, a taser. Graves was shot twice in the back.
Despite the way Matthew died and the hurt this group still carries with them, they’re also trying to use the lessons Matthew taught them to light up the darkness.
“I definitely want people to know that I’m not against police officers I just want justice and what’s right,” Sandoval said.
Five of the seven grand jurors said the officer who fired the fatal shots acted lawfully. However, Graves’ family and friends still say they believe police used excessive force. His family is currently in litigation with eagle point.
Devin Gooden graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a Master’s degree in Sports Journalism.
She has spent most of her life in Atlanta, Georgia and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia in Business Management.
When she’s not reporting, Devin practices yoga, reads thriller novels and loudly cheers for her beloved Georgia Bulldawgs.