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Klamath grand jury finds officer’s shooting of suspect justified


A Klamath County grand jury has found a sheriff’s deputy was justified in shooting a driver speeding toward him in a stolen car two weeks ago and has indicted the critically injured man on attempted murder and other charges, District Attorney Eve Costello said Thursday.

Here’s the full statement issued by Costello, detailing the sequence of events and grand jury determination:

The Klamath County Grand Jury determined the officer involved shooting on December 13, 2017 was justified and also returned an indictment charging Matthew Derby with Attempted Aggravated Murder, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, two counts of Aggravated Harassment, Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Police Officer, Unlawful Use of a Vehicle, Theft I, and Reckless Driving.

On December 13, 2017 Mr. Matthew Derby stole a vehicle and then attempted to elude law enforcement. Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Ryan Kaber, along with Oregon State Police troopers Rhoades and Hand assisted in the pursuit.

After traversing the entire city, placing many citizens at risk, Mr. Derby lost control of the stolen vehicle and came to a stop and then rammed the patrol vehicle. When Sergeant Kaber exited his vehicle to make contact, Mr. Derby gunned the car and drove directly at him. Sergeant Kaber barely escaped impact, firing shots in the course of avoiding death or serious physical injury.

Immediately after the shooting, an ambulance was requested and Trooper Rhoades provided first aid. Only eleven minutes elapsed between the call or the ambulance and Mr. Derby’s arrival at Sky Lakes. During the ambulance ride to the hospital, Mr. Derby twice spit blood and saliva into the face of an EMT. After being stabilized, Mr. Derby was transported to the Oregon Health Science’s University hospital. A federal parole warrant existed for his arrest and he was released to federal custody upon completion of treatment.

The Klamath County Grand Jury reviewed multiple videos of the incident, both from local businesses as well as law enforcement dash-cameras. They also heard testimony from Klamath Falls Detective Mike Hawkins (who took lead on the investigation) KCSO Sergeant Kaber and Sergeant Scheen; Oregon State Police Sergeant Randy Hand and Senior Trooper Nick Rhoades; Klamath Falls Officer William Rhodes; Nickolas Randall (Klamath County Fired District #1) and Ms. Lindsey Hilton, the owner of the stolen vehicle.

We are glad that Sergeant Kaber, or any other Klamath County citizen, was not seriously injured or worse. We extend sympathy to Mr. Derby’s family, but his circumstances are the result of his poor decisions. On December 13, 2017, his decisions placed many innocent citizens at risk and directly threatened Sergeant Kaber’s life. We anticipate Mr. Derby will be transported to Klamath County upon resolution of his federal matters.

In service,

Eve Costello

Klamath County District Attorney

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