Grand jury testimony clarifies Bodhi Phelps’ death

Bodhi Phelps killed in May 2016

Bodhi Wilson Dean Phelps in a 2015 photo from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office
Bodhi Wilson Dean Phelps in a 2015 photo from the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Nearly 400 page of transcribed grand jury testimony was released on Friday in the shooting death of Bodhi Phelps, who was shot and killed by Gresham Police in May 2016 during a domestic violence incident.

The transcriptions bring clarity to the incident, and support the grand jury’s findings the use of deadly force was justified, and that claims Phelps was shot in the back are unfounded.

“There’s nothing that enters in his back…When the shots were fired, he was either – they were either into his side or from the front.” — Oregon State Deputy ME Clifford Nelson

Oregon State Deputy Medical Examiner Clifford Nelson determined Phelps was shot 11 times, one of which was a “superficial graze.” Of the other 10 wounds, there was only one that would have been “rapidly fatal,” the doctor testified.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Donald Rees questioned the doctor: “Some protestors were quoted in the media about this case stating that Bodhi Phelps was shot in the back. Based on your examination, is that a correct assertion?”

Nelson replied: “There’s nothing that enters in his back…When the shots were fired, he was either – they were either into his side or from the front.”

Nelson testified when he performed an autopsy on Phelps, an uncapped needle and syringe were found in his pocket. Nelson told the grand jury that Phelps’ body had “pretty recent” signs of IV drug abuse.

Detectives are at the scene of the officer-involved shooting in Gresham, May 24 2016. (KOIN)
Detectives are at the scene of the officer-involved shooting in Gresham, May 24 2016. (KOIN)

The grand jury heard all of the 911 calls that were previously released. Of note was the call made by Phelps’ girlfriend, Courtney Sherrell. When the dispatcher picked up Sherrell’s 911 call, she was crying and said she needed help.

“My boyfriend is beating me,” Sherrell told the call taker.

Sherrell gave the dispatcher her location and said that she was sitting in a vehicle alone.

“He kicked me and punched me,” she said. “I need the cops to come as fast as possible otherwise he’s going to get away.”

Read the entire Grand Jury transcript here

During her testimony before the grand jury, Sherrell said, “I am a drug addict, and I needed to get help, treatment,” when discussing her employment status. She told the grand jury that heroin is her drug of choice, and that the last time she used it was the day Phelps died.

She detailed the struggles Phelps experienced with heroin as well. The couple actually met while in treatment together 5 years ago. She told the grand jury Phelps had used both meth and heroin the day before the confrontation with her and the deadly shooting.

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