DOJ: No charges against Bend officer in deadly downtown shooting
DA, Bend police chief, family attorney react
Oregon Department of Justice investigators investigators have found insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against Bend police Officer Scott Schaier in the fatal shooting of Michael Jacques in downtown Bend last Dec. 23, authorities said Tuesday.
In a letter sent Monday to Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel, DOJ Chief Counsel Michael Slauson said the agency’s Criminal Justice Division had reviewed the investigation conducted by the Tri-County Major Crime Team to determine if criminal charges were warranted.
“”The evidence is insufficient to disprove that Mr. Jacques was attempting to escape at the time Officer Schaier used deadly physical force, or that Officer Schaier reasonably believed the use of deadly force was necessary to defend himself and others.”
Jacques’ family hired an attorney and indicated an intention to file suit over the deadly shooting.
Slauson wrote, “Because our review was limited to potentially criminal matters, we did not evaluate whether Officer Schaier compiled with civil or administrative law and we offer no opinion with respect to his use of deadly force as it releases to those issues.”
Here’s a news release on the decision from Hummel, issued Tuesday afternoon:
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and her team at the Oregon Department of Justice completed their legal review of the December 23, 2016 shooting death of Michael Jacques in downtown Bend. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel asked Attorney General Rosenblum to take over this case due to a potential conflict of interest (Hummel’s attorney in litigation related to injuries he sustained in a car crash was retained by the family of Mr. Jacques to represent them in a case against the City of Bend based on the circumstances of his death).
Department of Justice Chief Counsel Michael J. Slauson informed Hummel via a letter that the Department of Justice concluded there was insufficient evidence to find Bend Police Officer Scot Schaier criminally liable for shooting Jacques.
Specifically, Slauson said: “[T]he evidence is insufficient to disprove that Mr. Jacques was attempting to escape at the time Officer Schaier used deadly physical force or that Officer Schaier reasonably believed the use of deadly force was necessary to defend himself and others. Accordingly, there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Schaier was not justified in his use of force.”
The Department of Justice’s opinion letter concludes the criminal review of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Jacques’ death.
Hummel thanked the Department of Justice for their work:
“Officer-involved shooting cases require prosecutors and investigators to expend hundreds of hours to ensure no stone is unturned and the truth comes out. Thank to you Attorney General Rosenblum and her team for taking on this case.”
Hummel also expressed his condolences to the family of Michael Jacques:
“Regardless of what the Attorney General decided in this case, Michael Jacques’ family would be grieving his loss. I assume this decision makes their pain more intense and I wish them the best in this trying time.”
Finally, Hummel recognized the struggle that the involved officers and their families have endured:
“Officers Schaier and Tisher and their families will always carry with them the pain inherent in any situation where a person’s life is taken. They have handled these last six months with grace and strength. Going forward will be slightly less difficult now that the Attorney General has completed her review.”
Slauson noted the major crime team interviewed more than 50 witnesses and collected over a dozen videos of the incident taken by passers-by.
“On the night of the shooting, several witnesses reported a white van driving dangerously through Bend,” the letter stated, including information that it was speeding and had crashed into an underpass. Officers Schaier and Mark Tisher responded to the intersection of Bond Street and Franklin Avenue around 10:30 p.m. on a busy Friday night.
Approaching the intersection,. Tisher said he “saw the van driving toward him erratically and veering across both lanes,” Slauson wrote. Schaier, who arrived separately, “saw the van fishtail, hit the concrete median at a high speed and then continue driving.”
“Neither officer had body cameras or dash cams in their police cars,” he wrote, and neither had any prior contact with or knowledge of Jacques.”
Slauson wrote that the officers approached Jacques’ van careful on the icy streets, and Schaier noted that “Jacques had glassy, bloodshot eyes and a blank stare.”
At first, Jacques complied with officers’ commands to keep his hands on the steering wheel but “was non-responsive or incoherent in responding to the officers’ questions.”
After Schaier opened the driver-side door, “Jacques took his hands off the wheel and reached toward his right side,” the investigator wrote. Schaier reached inside to grab the driver’s arm, but “Jacques pulled Officer Shaier into the van and began striking (him) on the head with his fist.” At about the same time, Tisher tried to open the passenger-side door, but it was locked.
After Schaier was able to pull free from Jacques, he fired his Taser, but “Jacques continued to struggle and pulled at the Taser wires,” Slauson wrote. “Schaier reached into the van and … stunned Mr. Jacques in his left shoulder area with the Taser gun, without any effect.”
While that was going on, Tisher returned to the driver side of the van and also fired his Taser at Jacque, who continued to pull at the wires, while Schaier sprayed pepper gel into Jacques’ face and eyes, with “no apparent effect.”
The van then began to lurch forward and, “with the tires screeching and spinning in place briefly, it began moving forward,” Slausen wrote.
Schaier told investigators he felt a sensation of being pulled to his left and believed his uniform or bullet-proof vest may have gotten caught on the van.”
“Officer Schaier yelled loudly to Mr. Jacques, ‘Put the car in park now!'” Slauson wrote, but both officers said “despite their efforts, they did not have control over Mr. Jacques.”
Schaier said that “at this point, he was afraid that Officer Tisher would get struck by the open driver’s side door of the van, fall and get pulled under the van, and be run over by the back tire,” the investigator said.
He also said “he was also concerned for his own safety, in that he believed he would get swept under the vehicle or dragged by the vehicle” and was “also afraid of pedestrians being struck by the van because of the reckless driving, as well as considering that the driver was potentially intoxicated, his assaultive behavior, and his attempt to elude and drive away.”
“Officer Schaier dropped his pepper spray on the ground, drew his handgun toward Mr. Jacques and fired off five shots, killing Mr. Jacques.”
Later, in the legal analysis, Slauson said “the evidence developed during the investigation tends to support the belief” of Scahdier that his and Tisher’s lives, and those of numerous nearby pedestrians, were at risk.”
“Under those circumstances, the state could not carry its burden to prove that Officer Schaier acted unreasonably in believing that deadly force was necessary to defend himself or others,” Slauson wrote.
Bend Police Chief Jim Porter issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon:
The following is a statement from Chief Jim Porter regarding the findings by the Oregon Department of Justice:
I, and the members of the Bend Police Department welcome the conclusion of the investigation into Michael Jacques death. The investigation of Officer Schaier and Tisher’s actions was led by the Oregon State Police and independently reviewed by the Oregon Department of Justice.
The attempted apprehension and arrest of Michael Jacques was witnessed by numerous citizens, some of which provided video recordings of the incident. We thank all those who provided witness testimony and their video of the incident. This evidence and recorded witness statements provided on the night of the incident are consistent with the statements given by Officers Schaier and Tisher and support the findings of the Oregon Department of Justice.
The officers serving the citizens of Bend do so with pride and compassion, placing themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis to save lives, to help those in distress to keep Bend a safe community. In 2016 officers responded to over 87,000 calls for service, arrested 3,100 offenders, and were only required to use force in 65 of these calls.
Here are notes from a news conference statement by the Jacques family’s attorney, Jennifer Coughlin:
DOJ”s findings are not unexpected but honestly it raises more questions than it answers. It relies very heavily on the officer’s recollection, which he was afforded many days to recount.
Our job, on behalf of the family, is to determine whether Officer Schaier had an objectively reasonable basis for using lethal force on Tyler Jacques. Simply because the Department of Justice did not find criminal liability doesn’t mean the officer didn’t have a choice.
Our job is to now vigorously pursue the civil matter to determine whether his choice violated this young man’s constitutional right as an American citizen. Without that inquiry, I fear a society which allows police officer’s to shoot people without consequence and in violation of our Constitution.
The standard that I am concerned with is not whether this officer can be found criminally liable beyond a reasonable doubt, but whether this officer was objectively reasonable, given the circumstance surrounding him, to use lethal force. In other words, did he had an ability to diffuse the situation? To wait for back up? To use other non-lethal forms of restraint?
The Department of Justice didn’t say they believed he was justified in his of self defense, but only that they couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he wasn’t justified in his use of self-defense.
They didn’t say he acted reasonably, which is my inquiry. they said he didn’t act criminally. The reasonableness of his conduct is an entirely different issue.
The Department of Justice stated in the letter with its findings that they did not make any inquiry into any civil liability or violations, which is now what we intend to do.
The victim’s family doesn’t want anyone to be unjustly criminally prosecuted, especially after what they went through with their son. However, they find it frustrating that the Dept of Justice’s investigation seems to be based solely on the recollection of the officers, which they were allowed several days to ponder before giving their statements.
The basic question is: Why did this young man, who was unarmed when pulled over for a traffic stop, get shot within a minute of being pulled over? And we look forward to vigorously representing the family in finding answers to that exact question.
Witness to Bend police shooting describes what he saw
Fatal incident could have been avoided, witness claims
Bend Bulletin, June 23, 2017
Even six months after witnessing the fatal shooting of a man in downtown Bend at the hands of a Bend Police officer, Tony Cota knows what he saw. He was only 50 feet away.
Cota does not waver when asked if the death of Michael Tyler Jacques was justified.
Cota’s description of what he saw is the first independent account that’s been made public. Previously, the only description came from law enforcement officials, who offered limited details in the days that followed before going silent.
But aside from a short interview at the scene, no officer or agency has contacted Cota for a statement, he said.
The Bulletin has not been able to independently confirm that Cota witnessed the shooting and Bend Police Chief Jim Porter would not comment on anything Cota said. Cota was interviewed by Jennifer Coughlin, an attorney hired by Jacques’ family.
Jacques, 31, was pulled over at about 10:30 p.m. Dec. 23 at the corner of Bond Street and Franklin Avenue after two people called 911 to report he was driving erratically.
The 39-year-old Cota, who works for the city of Bend’s Streets and Operations department, was en route to a car accident to deliver sand because the streets were icy. When he saw police, Cota stopped and got out of his vehicle. He had a clear view of the driver’s side of the minivan Jacques was driving.
Cota could also see officers Marc Tisher and Scott Schaier when they approached the minivan. Tisher went around the front of the vehicle to the passenger’s side door, while Schaier came from the back of the vehicle to approach Jacques at the driver’s side door.
Cota said the situation escalated quickly, with Schaier opening Jacques’ door and both officers yelling “put your hands up.” Cota said Jacques remained still the whole time.
Cota said Schaier then shot Jacques twice with a Taser. At that point, the minivan’s wheels spun in the ice and the van lurched forward a few feet, something Cota said he assumed was the result of the Taser shots.
About that same time, Cota said, Schaier fired his gun three times.
“It was pretty quick,” Cota said. “There was no trying to defuse the situation.”
Jacques’ death certificate, which was provided to The Bulletin by his mother, lists the time of death as 10:31 p.m. and the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds.
After the shooting, Cota said the officers backed up and yelled for Jacques to get out of the van.
Cota said other officers arrived quickly and the minivan was surrounded by officers with rifles. They broke out two windows of the minivan and pulled Jacques out, at which point the van started rolling forward. Cota said an officer got in and put it in park.
An investigation into the shooting was started by the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office, but District Attorney John Hummel quickly recused himself due to a conflict of interest. He previously had hired the attorney retained by Jacques’ mother, Karen Jacques.
The Oregon Department of Justice took over the investigation and has declined to release information on the progress of the investigation.
When asked this week if evidence had been presented to a grand jury, spokeswoman Kristina Edmunson declined to comment. Porter said he has not heard anything from DOJ regarding a grand jury.
Cota found the lack of police interest in what he saw as odd, and he has concerns.
He said he has a strong appreciation for police and wants to give them the benefit of the doubt, but after witnessing the shooting there is something he has a hard time getting past: While Jacques froze and was not complying with police, he was also not acting in a threatening manner, Cota said.
“The last thing that I want to see is an officer being persecuted for doing his job,” Cota said. “I do agree that officers every day are in a situation that most people never have to be in. It is a moment of ‘what do I do,’ and so I give them that, but there was not even time for back up to show up.”
Schaier and Tisher were placed on leave immediately following the shooting, though Porter said Schaier returned to the training division Jan. 26. Tisher, while still a city of Bend employee, has not returned to work.
Coughlin, the attorney retained by Karen Jacques, is conducting her own investigation.
Coughlin said she tracked down the pedestrian that Jacques reportedly ran off the road before police stopped him. The pedestrian told her Jacques was driving quickly and coming around a corner when he lost traction due to poor road conditions. He hit a snowbank but thought he hit the pedestrian.
The pedestrian said Jacques got out of the car and was worried he had hit someone. He drove off after making sure no one was injured.
Coughlin said a toxicology report showed alcohol and prescription drugs in Jacques’ system but refused to elaborate.
Coughlin said the lack of information from justice officials has been hard on Karen Jacques and her husband, Michael Jacques.
“This mother and father are really suffering day in, day out,” Coughlin said.
Karen Jacques has concerns that the investigation is not being done properly, and that from the beginning, Bend Police Department officers tried to make it appear the shooting was justified, which she does not agree with.
Karen Jacques contacted Verizon Wireless to get use history for her son’s phone and claims a customer service agent told her the phone had been used during the same period that police had it. Data shared with The Bulletin shows the phone was used 28 times from 10:58 p.m. on Dec. 23 — about 20 minutes after Jacques died — to 1:43 p.m. the next day. The Bulletin was not able to verify the authenticity of these records.
Karen Jacques also said her son’s friends told her at his memorial in California that officers called them shortly after the shooting to ask them about his behavior and drug use, and if he was paranoid. An email sent from Jacques’ friend Kaitlin Willhoit details such a call, this one reportedly from Redmond Police Detective Tyler Kirk. The shooting was immediately investigated by a multiagency task force comprised of law enforcement officers from several local agencies.
Willhoit told Karen Jacques in the email that Kirk called her on Dec. 28 from a city of Redmond phone line and asked her about Jacques’ drug use, if he was violent, paranoid or suicidal. Kirk declined to comment on the matter, but phone records supplied by Willhoit list a call that day from a city of Redmond phone number.
Karen Jacques was confused about how law enforcement would get phone numbers for Jacques’ childhood friends without going through his phone, and how they could lawfully do that without a search warrant. When asked about going through the phone, Porter said he has no idea if any of his officers searched the phone, or if a warrant was applied for. He said in general, the policy on searching a dead person’s phone would be to apply for a search warrant.
As days turned to weeks and months, information like the phone records and reports of police interrogations of her son’s friends are the only updates Karen Jacques receives about her son. Justice department officials have repeatedly declined to discuss the investigation with her, or tell her where in the process the investigation is, she said.
Karen Jacques has started going to therapy to deal with her grief, but time has healed no wounds.
“It’s the first thing I think of in the morning, and the last thing I think of at night,” she said through tears.
For man killed by Bend police, a lifelong struggle
Michael Jacques’ short, traumatic life ended during a fatal traffic stop in downtown Bend
The Bend Bulletin – Jan 26, 2017
In the weeks since police killed her son, Karen Jacques has avoided online comments, news articles and cellphone videos that were broadcast on TV. She’d been told of the graphic content, and the way people characterized her son, Michael Tyler Jacques. They called him a pedophile and a violent drunk.
She stayed away because she remembers him differently. Her son, in her eyes still a boy in so many ways, was a funny, sensitive child with a penchant for being empathetic toward the misfits in his life.
He took kids with disabilities under his wing because he knew how it felt to not fit in, she said.
Jacques, 31 — most people called him Tyler — grew up in a normal family, his mother said. He played with plastic toy soldiers and went to school like everyone else. But in high school, he experimented with drugs and alcohol. He formed an addiction that he fought until the final days of his life.
“He has struggled with learning disabilities, mental heath issues,” Karen Jacques, 70, said. “But his primary diagnosis was post traumatic stress disorder. That’s from his time in prison.”
Over the years, Karen Jacques saw the transformation drugs, alcohol and prison forced upon him. In the wake of his death, she has seen the community quick to say he deserved to die. And while she admits he had his faults, she said she saw the sweet, compassionate boy she raised up until the day he died.
Jacques was sent to prison for three years when he was 19 for a lewd and lascivious acts conviction. There, he was a victim of several assaults that resulted in severe head trauma, Karen Jacques said. Many who knew Jacques said he was never the same after prison. After getting out, his learning disabilities were more pronounced, and he continued to struggle intermittently with drugs and alcohol. He also showed streaks of paranoia, or being hyper-alert, as well as bouts of violence.
“We would have these family dinners that would go really well, and then he would start to talk about prison, and the things they did to him in prison, and he just couldn’t let go of it,” Karen Jacques said.
Jacques was a white, middle-class kid from Laguna Beach, California. His mother said that made him stick out in the California prison system, but Jacques refused to join a prison gang for protection.
“He would not affiliate with the white skinheads,” Karen Jacques said. “So they beat him senseless.”
The fatal stop
Jacques was shot and killed in downtown Bend on Dec. 23 after Bend Police officers pulled him over near the intersection of Bond Street and Franklin Avenue following reports of erratic driving. Police have said Jacques — who was driving a 2002 Dodge Caravan with Rascal, an emotional service dog he got when he was released from prison — did not comply with orders and the situation escalated. Either one, or both officers — Scott Schaier and Marc Tisher — deployed a Taser, which they said was ineffective. Schaier then fired his service weapon, killing Jacques. Investigators have yet to say how many shots were fired.
Schaier and Tisher were placed on paid leave while the shooting is investigated.
More than a month later, police have yet to disclose what Jacques did to instigate use of lethal force, or what officers Tisher and Schaier did to deescalate the situation. At a press conference the day after the shooting, police said they did not know if Jacques was armed and have yet to say what, if anything, was found when officers searched the van. Similarly, Bend Police Chief Jim Porter described Jacques at the press conference as a drunk driver, though no toxicology report has ever been released.
Karen Jacques and her husband, Michael Sr., were awakened at 4:30 a.m. to police knocking on the door of their home in Bend, where their son had been living since last summer. Karen Jacques said it was a surprise, but something she always knew was possible.
“When you have a child that’s had so many difficulties, you have what I would call anticipatory grief,” she said. “Especially since so many of his friends have already died of overdoses, we were always afraid this day would come. And here it is.”
Forming an opinion
However, when police explained how her son died, Karen Jacques was caught off guard. She didn’t think the police characterization of her son’s actions that night fit his personality, she said.
Police asked for permission to search the home, and in a state of grief, Karen Jacques consented. Looking back, she is skeptical of police motives. What were they looking for, she thought, and how would it help an investigation? If police were to find something incriminating, she wondered, how would that justify a fatal shooting?
Karen Jacques said the search turned up little. She recalled police seizing a small folding knife Jacques used to clean his finger nails and an old cell phone.
Several hours later, when Bend police explained what happened to the media, Karen Jacques felt her son was deliberately painted in a bad light and she began to question how fair the investigation into his death was going to be.
Karen Jacques remembers the police telling her that morning that her son had provoked the officers and that’s why he was shot. She remembers a rush of empathy for Schaier, who was identified later as the officer who shot her son.
“I thought, that poor guy is never going to be right again because he had to shoot somebody,” she said. “Now I feel like he murdered him.”
A bleeding heart
Those who knew Jacques as a child say he was curious and compassionate.
Karen Jacques remembers her son being given an award in front of his entire middle school for having the biggest heart. He was honored for befriending a young girl who had been adopted and had a lot of emotional problems. Jacques often helped calm her down and walked with her to wherever she needed to go.
“He was particularly empathetic toward people with disabilities,” Karen Jacques said.
Leaving the straight and narrow
Others that knew him from a young age remember Jacques as a fun-loving kid. David Duker, a 69-year-old Laguna Beach, California, resident, knew Jacques through his son, Lewis. He remembers watching the two playing with toys, and later taking them on a trip to Mexico. As they got older, Duker recalled the two boys’ move from innocence to a more sordid lifestyle.
“They were stepping away from the mainstream as far as school work and (staying on the) straight and narrow goes,” Duker said.
In high school, Jacques was sent from his Laguna Beach world, where his friends had disposable income and access to drugs, to Bend where he started wilderness therapy through Bridges Academy. Joan McOmber, the school’s executive director until it closed earlier this month, remembers him well.
She called him a bright but different learner. Through a structured school environment, he saw a lot of academic success, she said. However, he had what she called auditory processing issues, and could become easily overloaded when flooded with information. She said teachers at Bridges would work slowly with him to understand what he was absorbing, and what he wasn’t.
Not too long after he left Bridges, an 18-year-old Jacques met a girl who told him she was 15, Karen Jacques said. The girl was actually 13, but never told Jacques, and the two had sex several times. When the girl’s parents found out, they pressed criminal charges.
“You know, she was five-foot-eight, she didn’t look like a little girl,” Karen Jacques said.
Jacques went to prison, but stayed in touch with McOmber. When he got out, she noticed a difference.
“He just wasn’t the same,” she said. “I would guess it was the head injuries. Head injuries can change someone drastically. When I knew him as a high schooler, he was more fun-loving. Just more easy-going.”
Life on the outside
Life after prison left Jacques fractured, his friends and loved ones said. Signs of the compassionate little boy remained, but new characteristics surfaced. He struggled at times with drinking and illegal drugs, but also had long stretches of sobriety. He started working as a landscaper informally for several of the people in his father’s Laguna Beach neighborhood, including Matt Warner.
“He was very smart, very creative,” Warner said.
Warner recalled Jacques enjoyed watching the butterflies that visited his yard. But Warner also saw signs of learning disabilities that Jacques had suffered with his entire life.
“There was something that didn’t click right. It was just really weird,” Warner said. “He could know incredible amounts of stuff about things, and then there was just something that prohibited him from having a normal, everyday job.”
He also knew Jacques’ time in prison had an impact.
“It destroyed him,” Warner said. “He went to prison as a child molester. Do you know what it’s like in prison for a child molester?”
Warner said Jacques was trustworthy and he never worried about giving him unsupervised access to his home.
Neither did Duker, who reconnected with Jacques and hired him to work on his yard.
“I would leave the money out for him in advance,” Duker said. “There was never any issue with him taking the money and him not doing the work.”
Seeking a fresh start
Jacques had a spate of interactions with law enforcement, though mostly parole violations. He moved to Bend to live with his mother May 16, 2016, the day after he got off parole. His dad, who is an art professor in California, would split his time in Bend and Laguna Beach. Karen Jacques said her son was seeking a fresh start. He was sober, attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and working out. He was fixing things around the house and going on hikes with Rascal.
But Jacques wasn’t able to stay out of trouble. In July, he got in a bar fight at the Westside Tavern in Bend. According to a Bend Police report, Jacques was very drunk when taken into custody by an officer, and on the ride back to the police station started insulting the cop. The insults were interrupted by apologies for being disrespectful.
When walking through the jail, a handcuffed Jacques told the officer he could spin around and head-butt him. Jacques then spun around, and the officer sat him down on a bench. He later was convicted of attempted assault on an officer.
It was typical of the many relapses Karen Jacques saw in her son. But with each slip, Jacques also worked to push forward she said.
“He was fighting so hard. He wanted to have a fresh start and a normal life,” Karen Jacques said.
The final push for change
He took medication for his psychological issues, but it was expensive, and Jacques had run out in the weeks before his death. On Dec. 20, Karen Jacques purchased some for her son. The night before he was killed, the family went out to sushi to formulate a plan on how Jacques could stay sober.
“Tyler said ‘I know I need to get it together,’” Karen Jacques recalled. “‘I am starting to self-medicate, this isn’t going to work.’”
Jacques had lost a job as a painter over the summer when his employer did a background check and found out he was a registered sex offender. He was discouraged, but his parents offered to help him try and get back on his feet.
The next night, Jacques’ life ended during a traffic stop in Bend.
“It was every parent’s worse nightmare,” Karen Jacques said through tears. “He was not very mature. And during the time he spent in prison, he didn’t exactly grow up. So we still think of him as our boy.”
Jacques’ family, and those who knew him, said they can’t see Jacques doing something to warrant death.
Karen Jacques believes her son was overwhelmed by the police presence, and shut down — something that often happened in stressful situations. McOmber, a licensed therapist in California, said that would fit with Jacques’ mental processing issues.
“There’s the fight, flight or freeze, and I could definitely see Tyler in that situation freezing,” she said
Karen Jacques said she believes the shooting was unlawful.
“The police have got to learn to be a little more controlled,” Karen Jacques said.
In the weeks since, Karen Jacques said she has been a mess. Some days, she is unable to get out of bed or leave the house. Other days, she moves around the home, Rascal by her side, with constant reminders of her son in the form of pictures, or little projects he was working on.
She thinks about the piece of her family that was taken away and how she will never have grandchildren.
“This changed the whole course of our lives,” she said.
Where the case stands today – January 26, 2017
The actions of the Bend Police Department are being investigated by Oregon State Police under the direction of the Oregon Department of Justice.
Although an autopsy was done, authorities have not released any information about whether Michael Tyler Jacques was drunk or under the influence of illegal drugs.
Authorities have also declined to say what prompted officers to use deadly force or whether or not Jacques was armed.
OSP has said it will not release any details about the case until its investigation is complete, but an attorney for Jacques’ family is conducting an independent investigation.
On Dec. 23, Michael Jacques was shot and killed during a traffic stop by Bend police. Here’s what’s happening in the aftermath.
By Brian Jennings for The Source (Bend Weekly)
It was a Friday night around 10:30 when a Bend police officer stopped Michael Jacques in his Dodge Caravan near Franklin and Bond, after 911 reports of a van being driven erratically on Third street, allegedly nearly hitting a bicyclist. According to Oregon State Police, the officers on the scene first used a Taser on Jacques, eventually shooting him. In the wake of his death, attorneys representing Jacques’ family say police have “used the media to paint Jacques as the bad guy.” For one, Jacques’ mother and eyewitnesses have claimed he was not armed.“The cynical part of my brain tells me the command level officers and chief knew this was a bad shooting,” says Michelle Burrows, of the firm Brothers, Hawn & Coughlin. “They needed to get ahead of it and start vilifying the victim immediately.”
Bend Police Chief Jim Porter doesn’t see it that way. While not able to talk about specifics, he spoke highly of the two officers, identified as Scott Schaier and Marc Tisher, now on administrative leave.
“They are exceptional officers. They have a history of good decision-making. They’re good husbands and fathers, and they’re good people in their heart. I know that,” he said.
Eyewitnesses: Shot at Point Blank Range
Eyewitnesses have told Burrows that Jacques was shot at almost point blank range. One account is he was shot in the back of the head after officers used the Taser. A series of four or five gunshots are heard on a grainy eyewitness video.
“Based on our eyewitnesses, there was almost no justification for it,” said Burrows, saying eyewitnesses have told her that Jacques was cooperative, non-combative, unarmed and likely seat-belted in the car when an officer opened the door, used the Taser, and within another 15-20 seconds shot Tyler.
“I’m sure the police investigation will reveal a somewhat different view,” she told us. “There seems to be a concerted effort by homicide investigators to sanitize and clean up the investigation to make the officers look as good as possible.”
State Investigators Take Over
The investigation has since been taken over by Oregon State Police, after a conflict of interest arose with Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel, who’s represented in a personal case by the same firm hired by Jacques’ family. According to OSP, it was Schaier’s duty weapon that was fired. Regardless, Burrows’ colleague, Jennifer Coughlin, questions the investigation. “I do believe that having one police organization investigate whether the officers of another police organization were justified in their shooting of a citizen is a flawed system. I have no doubt that if an independent panel of citizens were appointed to review police officer shootings, many more bad shootings would be found and the officers would be held accountable,” Coughlin told us. Burrows and Coughlin are demanding evidence not be tampered with, and have requested access to the Dodge Caravan.
Background: Michael Tyler Jacques
According to Burrows, Jacques led a troubled life dealing with autism, mental issues, drugs and alcohol. Quoting his mother, Burrows told us, “They struggled in taking care of Tyler his whole life. He was a methamphetamine addict.”
She contends that many meth users develop a different way of thinking. “In their mind, meth makes them think better. I think that’s what happened with Tyler.” Burrows also says Jacques suffered from alcoholism, going through “a couple of different treatment programs.”
He impregnated his juvenile girlfriend, according to Burrows, and was imprisoned for “lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age.” While serving two and a half years in a California jail, Burrows says Jacques was nearly beaten to death on two occasions. After release, she thinks he suffered from severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“He did not have the neurological capacity to deal with regular life. Couple that with severe anxiety and PTSD, and he struggled. He was a fragile human being,” says Burrows.
Bend Police Training
A 16-year veteran officer, Sgt. Brian Beekman, is one of two trainers in the Bend Police department.
“When I started in the early 2000s, going to a suicidal or mental crisis call would be an infrequent occurrence,” he stated. “Our officers are now responding to three to five a day.” Chief Porter says mental health calls have doubled in the last three years and last year increased 35 percent over 2015.
Bend PD has modified its training to respond to this increase, including staffing three officers to respond to mental health crises. For the past several years the department has also been offering Crisis Intervention Training, a 40-hour block of training, helping officers determine if they’re dealing with a criminal or mental health problem. About 80 percent of Bend’s Police Officers have been trained in advanced confrontational management— including Schaier and Tisher, according to Beekman.
Noting that officers often have to make split second decisions, Beekman said, “It’s critical training for law enforcement because many times a mental crisis contact can appear aggressive or confrontational.”
No Police Cameras
Although eyewitness videos have surfaced, the Bend Police Department doesn’t currently use individual cameras to record encounters. Still, Beekman thinks it’s only a matter of time. Chief Porter says, “We just have to find the funding and staffing to support the project.”
Attorney Burrows contends they help police behave better because they know they are being taped. “It should be mandated. It helps them, too. If an officer is accused of doing something they didn’t do, a video will end the discussion. It’s a protective tool for everybody involved.”
When asked if he thinks the officers will be exonerated, Chief Porter said he couldn’t answer that question. “We have a policy of using the minimum amount of force possible and I can unequivocally say there’s not an officer in my department that I have a concern about in that regard.”
Burrows speculates the investigation will take months if not over a year. “I think they will label their investigation of the two officers as thorough and it will not be. It won’t be accurate. That’s why we want the minivan preserved so we can do our own science that includes bullet trajectories to the body,” she says.
Burrows concluded, “I predict the officers will not be indicted. They will be cleared. We will probably file a lawsuit at that point and then we will do the investigation.”
A hearty thump on the back to Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel for interrupting a longstanding practice of treating police with kid-gloved reverence, and treating justice not at all.
By yielding the Michael Jacques investigation to the Oregon Department of Justice, Hummel veered off the path of impunity and neatly extracted his office from a clear conflict of interest.
Police shot Jacques, an unarmed man in mental health crisis, four to five times at close range as he sat, still seat belted, in the driver’s seat of his car. His family pleaded for a fair investigation; under Hummel, that was by no means guaranteed.
District attorneys are part of law enforcement. In use-of-force cases, this means law enforcement investigates law enforcement. In 2015, we asked Hummel about the inherent conflict of interest. He replied, “In the last 20 years, my office has not charged a police officer or deputy with a use of force crime for force used while on duty.” Well, yes. That’s exactly the sort of thing that results from such conflict.
Whenever police use lethal force, there must be independent, unbiased, non-conflicted review.
We join with the Deschutes County District Attorney and the Jacques’ family in pleading for a truly impartial inquiry.
—Jenny Westberg and Jason Renaud for the board of directors of the Mental Health Association of Portland
Family of man killed by Bend police said he was unarmed, still had seat belt on when shot
From The Oregonian, December 29 2016
Bend police fired four to five times at close range at Michael Tyler Jacques as he sat still belted in the driver’s seat of his car during a traffic stop last week, his family’s lawyers said Thursday.
Jacques was unarmed and traveling with his service dog at the time, the lawyers said in a statement.
“The family urges Bend PD and the Oregon State Police to conduct a fair and honorable investigation of this shooting not with the goal of exonerating the officers but with the sole purpose of determining the truth of what occurred that night,” attorney Jennifer Coughlin wrote.
Screen Shot 2016-12-30 at 9.31.00 AM.pngMichael Tyler JacquesCourtesy of family
State police said they’re investigating the shooting Friday night but have released few details about what occurred beyond that Jacques was stopped for driving erratically and then resisted arrest.
They said an officer fired a stun gun at Jacques to take him into custody but that didn’t work and gunshots followed. State police haven’t said how many officers fired shots or if Jacques was armed.
Bend Police Chief Jim Porter called the encounter an “unavoidable, tragic situation.”
State police spokesman Sgt. Kyle Hove said Thursday he had no new information to release on the shooting.
According to the lawyers, Bend police responded to calls about an erratic driver. The first call to 911 came in at 10:26 p.m. and police fired shots less than five minutes later.
Jacques pulled into a parking lot in a Dodge Caravan and came to a complete stop at Franklin Avenue near Bond Street, according to Coughlin and attorney Michelle Burrows.
A video from a witness showed the driver side door of the van open and two officers standing between Jacques and the door when shots are heard, the lawyers said.
Jacques, 31, had a service dog with him because he suffers from severe post traumatic stress disorder stemming from time in prison on a sex abuse conviction in California, Coughlin said. Once he was off parole, he moved to Oregon to start fresh, Coughlin said.
The family’s lawyers also said they were disturbed that some witnesses contacted by their investigators relayed that law enforcement officials told them not to speak to anyone but them.
“These various actions by law enforcement send a disturbing message of cover up and a profound lack of empathy with the victims of police violence, which is the opposite of responsible conduct the public expects of law enforcement,” the lawyers wrote.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said the investigation is continuing, and he doesn’t expect to release any more information until next week. He said two officers were present when Jacques was shot, and both have been interviewed. He would not say whether one or both officers fired their handguns.
“My sympathies are with the family of Michael Jacques and with the involved officers and their families,” Hummel said Thursday.
Bend police officer fatally shot motorist while trying to arrest him after erratic driving, police say
The Oregonian, December 24, 2016
A Bend police officer shot and killed a 31-year-old motorist Friday night after officers spotted him driving erratically, stopped his car and then had difficulty taking him into custody, according to state police Capt. Bill Fugate.
Once an officer stopped the 2002 Dodge Caravan in downtown Bend on Franklin Avenue, near Bond Street, about 10:30 p.m., a second officer arrived. The driver, Michael Tyler Jacques, “did not cooperate,” and the two officers attempted to place him under arrest, police said.
At least one of the officers fired a stun gun at Jacques, before an officer shot and killed Jacques, according to Fugate. It’s unclear if one or both officers fired their handguns.
The officers removed Jacques from the vehicle and rendered first aid. Emergency medical personnel who responded to the scene pronounced Jacques dead.
Detectives and forensic experts are continuing to investigate the officer-involved fatal shooting in downtown Bend.
The encounter occurred after Deschutes County 911 received calls about a white minivan driving erratically southbound on Third Street near Butler Market. At least two callers described the vehicle and its erratic driving, saying it had driven into snow banks and had almost struck a bicyclist. The 2002 Dodge Caravan drove through a 7-11 parking lot before it was stopped by police on Franklin Street.
The state police criminal investigations division and state police forensic divisions are investigating, along with officers from a multi-agency task force that includes the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Redmond police, Sunriver police, Madras police, Warm Springs police and the Deschutes County District Attorney’s office.
Anyone who may have witnessed the vehicle or police shooting are urged to call state police Det. James Koehler at 541-633-2215.
DOWNLOAD – Press Release from Jacques family attorney Michelle Burrows (PDF)