PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – An officer’s decision to shoot a bank robbery suspect in Northeast Portland was legally justified, according to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.
Portland Police Officer David Staab shot Jesse Lee Brockner on August 30, 2017 following a short vehicle pursuit that ended in the 100 block of Northeast 55th Avenue. Brockner survived the shooting and is being held at the Multnomah County Detention Center.
According to a “prosecution decline memo” obtained by KOIN 6 News, the DA’s Office writes that “it appears clear there is more than one legal basis for the use of deadly force in this case.”
Staab, in a statement to federal investigators, said he told Brockner to put his hands up, but Brockner didn’t comply. Brockner then leaned into his vehicle and reached for something, prompting Staab to fire two rounds. A loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun was found on the floorboard of Brockner’s vehicle.
This week, the DA’s Office confirmed it will not present the case before a grand jury because prosecutors have determined the shooting was legally justified.
Brockner was being pursued by police officers after an undercover detective spotted a vehicle that he knew had been stolen out of Yamhill County. The vehicle was later used in a bank robbery in Washington County. Brockner, according to court documents, was identified as the suspect in both crimes hours before he was shot.
In order to assist the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in its effort to prosecute Brockner, Staab provided “a written voluntary statement” to federal investigators on October 12th, 2017.
After an officer involved shooting, PPB homicide detectives are assigned to the case to gather the facts about about the incident. Once detectives are finished with the investigation, they present the case to the DA’s Office. Prosecutors then determine if there was any evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
At the same time, an internal investigation is conducted by the police bureau. That investigation looks to determine whether the officer was within bureau policy of using deadly force. New city guidelines dictate that an officer who uses deadly force can be asked to be interviewed by internal investigators within 48 hours of the incident.
However, interviews with homicide detectives cannot be compelled. If they are, any statement made would be subject to immunity under the U.S. Constitution because the officer could be exposing him/herself to incrimination.
Portland Police spokesperson Sgt. Chris Burley said Friday that Staab has not interviewed with homicide detectives, but has spoken with internal affairs, in accordance to city policy.
In the statement Staab provided to federal investigators, according to the DA’s memo, Staab said he performed a traffic stop on a suspected stolen vehicle driven by Brockner after hearing a broadcast from the detective regarding a burglary and armed bank robbery that had occurred earlier in the day on Aug. 30.
Staab said he used his patrol vehicle’s overhead lights and siren in an attempt to the stop Brockner’s vehicle. Brockner refused. and drove away at a high rate of speed through multiple blocks in a busy, densely populated part of Portland.
The vehicle Brockner was driving collided with a parked car near the intersection of Northeast 55th and Davis Street and abruptly stopped in the street.
“Officer Staab reports he stopped behind the suspect vehicle, ran from his patrol car to a position of cover behind a tree on the west side of NE 55th and pointed his firearm at Brockner who was still in the driver’s seat of the suspected stolen vehicle,” according to the DA’s memo.
Staab stated he could only see the top of the shoulders and head of Brockner. “He told Brockner to put his hands up and threatened to shoot Brockner if he did not comply,” according to the memo.
Staab also wrote in his statement that he knew Brockner used a gun during the bank robbery, believed Brockner to be currently armed while in the vehicle and believed that Brockner would use his gun on police as he was “obviously desperate to escape.”
Brockner reportedly looked directly at Staab, but did not show the officer his hands.
“Instead Brockner turned forward and leaned forward in the driver’s seat in a fluid motion, according to Officer Staab, which caused him to believe that Brockner was either reaching for a gun or preparing to drive away,” the memo states.
Staab fired two rounds from his service weapon. The window to the vehicle shattered. Staab stopped shooting because Brockner disappeared from his sight.
“Officer Staab reports he then continued to give verbal commands and saw Brockner sit up and begin to follow the commands. The vehicle door opened and Brockner stepped out with his hands up,” according to the DA’s memo.
Medical records obtained by the Portland Police Bureau’s Homicide Detail, and provided to the DA’s Office, revealed that Brockner was treated and released a few hours later after receiving a bandage for a gunshot wound to his left shoulder. Brockner did not require any stitches. His injury was described as two linear wounds. One was 4 cm in length and 1 cm deep; the other was 8 cm in length and 2 cm deep.
Brockner was reportedly told by doctors to use Tylenol and Advil for pain, according to the DA’s memo.
The memo goes on to state that in “the discretion of the District Attorney it has been determined there will be no grand jury review…of Officer Staab’s decision to use deadly force during the arrest of Brockner.”
The DA’s policy on taking officer involved shooting cases before a grand jury states: “The grand jury will review all cases involving a law enforcement officer’s use of deadly physical force that results in death, serious physical injury or physical injury to another and cases where the use of physical force results in death or serious physical injury unless, in the discretion of the District Attorney, it is determined that grand jury review is unwarranted.”
Brockner’s trial in U.S. District Court had been scheduled to start later this month but was pushed back to April 2018.