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DA: Officer-Involved Shooting Of Murder Suspect Justified

Douglas County Facebook Livestream

The police shooting of a murder suspect in Reedsport earlier this month has been deemed justified, three weeks after the incident. 

On March 9, law enforcement officers from Douglas County and several local police departments stopped an Acura sedan with an unnamed driver and passenger David Ruozi. 

Credit Springfield PD
David Ruozi booking photo.

Investigators were seeking Ruozi for the shooting death of 70-year-old Richard Marshall, a Springfield caretaker of a youth farm.  Marshall had been found dead on the property March 1 by his son's fiance.  The victim was shot in the face with a .45 caliber handgun. 

At a news conference Tuesday, Douglas County District Attorney Rick Wesenberg said for nearly five hours, officers negotiated with Ruozi, who declared he would “die and go to Valhalla”, and smoked meth.  He requested a Burger King meal for his "last meal", but was upset when a McDonald's meal was brought to him instead. 

Ruozi also demanded that he get to talk to his 7-year-old stepdaughter, which authorities did not facilitate.  Wesenberg said Ruozi's demeanor went from agitated to jovial during the standoff, though in phone conversations with relatives, he was heard swearing and yelling. 

At one point, Ruozi said he had a split personality, and another being - named "Damien" had committed Marshall's murder. 

After more than four hours when tear gas was deployed against the vehicle , Ruozi made his final move.

“He turns toward the officers and he starts to come out of the Acura, gun in hand, ready to shoot, and that’s as far as he got," said DA Wesenberg.  "Expert marksmen from the TRT (Tactical Response Team) fired six rounds at Rouzi.  Five rounds hit Ruozi, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.” 

Credit Douglas County Facebook Livestream
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, at today's news conference.

Springfield detectives sought Ruozi after his gun matched the type used to kill Marshall.  They incorporated the FBI to help track Ruozi's phone, which led them to Reedsport.

After the incident, Wesenberg’s office convened a grand jury.  It concluded the officer-involved shooting was justified, given Ruozi’s alleged murder of Marshall and his intentions to confront police for a potential "suicide by cop."  That information came from an undisclosed source in Ohio, who Wesenberg said talked to Ruozi.  The individual was able to corroborate details of Marshall's murder (details that had not been publicly released), and also shared that Ruozi sounded like he was under the influence of strong drugs, and was also armed. 

“The officers and dispatchers involved in this unfortunate situation responded to and reacted to Mr. Ruozi’s erratic behavior and actions exactly how they are trained, and exactly how they are expected to respond," stated Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin.

"Unfortunately Mr. Ruozi chose not to surrender peacefully, and by his actions, he forced a deadly outcome.”

Hanlin expressed condolences to Ruozi’s family.  The man driving Ruozi before the hours-long standoff was taken into custody without incident.

Copyright 2021, 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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