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Deschutes Deputy Under Investigation After Shooting Fleeing Suspect

A Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office deputy is under investigation after shooting a man behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.

Law enforcement officials say 33-year-old Brandon Berrett’s injuries are not life threatening. He was fleeing arrest in a car when Deputy Chris Jones shot him.

The shooting happened Oct. 12, after three sheriff’s deputies and two recruits in training went to arrest Berrett for a parole violation. Berrett reportedly jumped in a car and sped away. Jones fired into the car, hitting Berrett twice. Jones is a training instructor in defensive tactics, use of Taser and use of force. 

Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel recounted the limited details about the event in a press release. Hummel will eventually decide if the evidence in the case will go before a grand jury for criminal charges. Other counties in Oregon, such as Multnomah, automatically send cases of officer-involved shootings before a grand jury.

Hummel’s office is working with Oregon State Police and police in Bend and Redmond to investigate. Hummel said the officers involved in the shooting are cooperating with the investigation and willingly giving interviews. Pursuant of its own policy, the sheriff's office holds an internal review led by its own detectives. 

Hummel put out a statement the day after the shooting, saying: “A law enforcement officer’s decision whether to discharge a weapon is the most serious and consequential decision they have to make.  When they decide to shoot, the public rightfully asks why and whether the decision was appropriate and legal ... . I expect this investigation to be completed relatively soon and at that time I’ll release to the public my legal conclusion and the factual basis for it.”

The officers involved in the shooting are on paid leave until they’re interviewed, said Sgt. Bill Bailey with the sheriff's office.

The incident took place between Bend and Redmond at a roadside attraction and RV park known as the Funny Farm, where Berrett’s father reportedly lives. About 10 years ago the Bend Bulletin reported Berrett was arrested after leading Bend police on a car and foot chase. Details of his criminal history were not immediately provided by the sheriff's office. 

The fact that two recruits who are training to work at the county jail were present on a patrol ride-alone has no bearing on the criminal aspect of the investigation, Hummel said.

Eriks Gabliks, head of the state Department of Public Safety Standards And Training, said he wasn’t familiar with the specifics of this shooting, but added it wasn't surprising "that you would have two officers in trainee status with a full-time officer."

"We have a lot more people assigned to field training status,” he said, because there’s a wave of retiring officers across the state right now. 

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting