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Lane County DA Issues Determination On EPD Shooting Of Suspect

Lane County DA/EPD

The shooting of a domestic violence suspect by Eugene Police has been deemed a “lawful response” by the Lane County District Attorney. 

On the morning of November 30th, a woman texted a deputy district attorney: “He beat me up. He’s here.” The man in question was Muhsin Sharif, who reportedly violated a restraining order, allegedly choked her in front of a child, then fled the victim’s home with a knife.  She told officers that Sharif talked of “fighting the police” and possibly killing himself if police were involved.

Bodycam footage shows police pursuing Sharif into an alley near the Oakshire Brewery. After repeat orders to drop the knife, Sharif advanced on an officer inside a vehicle. Both the officer and another policeman fired eight rounds, hitting Sharif twice: once in the chest and once in the hip, causing him to fall. Officers told Sharif again to drop the knife, eventually tasering him and calling medics.

The DA’s office says based on testimony and video footage, that the EPD’s use of deadly force was “lawful.”  Sharif is now in jail, awaiting trial on four felony charges.

Following the incident, a few vigils and protests were held near the site.  Demonstrators have called for police to be defunded, highlighted it as another incident of police use of force against people of color, or criticized what they called a lack of transparency in how the shooting was communicated to the public.

Credit Lane County DA/EPD
In another image from an EPD officer's bodycam, Muhsin Sharif - hit in the shoulder and hip by police gunfire - lies on the ground. He can be heard telling officers that he can't move his arm, before he is tasered and releases a knife.

Meanwhile, Sharif's attorney, Brian Michaels, says a less lethal course of action could have been taken. He says after his client was shot, he fell and told officers he couldn’t move his arm to release the knife, to no avail.

“They tased him after they shot him in order to drop the knife. Which begs the question, why didn’t they tase him before they shot him in order to get him drop the knife?" Michaels told KLCC. 

"We’re increasingly living in a world of police violence, and we’re trying as a nation to get police to use de-escalation methods in order to avoid unnecessary harm.”

Michaels adds only after KLCC shared the Lane County DA news release did he learn the shooting of his client was deemed a “lawful response”.  He says Sharif is improving in his jail cell, but says it’s not the ideal environment for someone who’s been shot.

Note: This story was updated at 5:30pm on 12/15/2020 to include attorney Brian Michael's remarks.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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