The City of Tigard will pay $3.8 million to the mother of 26-year-old Jacob Macduff, who was fatally shot by Tigard police while experiencing a mental health crisis outside of his apartment complex in January 2021.
As part of the July 2022 wrongful death settlement agreement, the city agreed to undergo an independent review of their officer’s conduct during the shooting. The city also agreed to implement 15 changes to its policies and procedures as a result of the shooting, including training officers in de-escalation, moving up the timeline for implementing body-worn cameras and creating a mental health response team that will also serve Sherwood, Tualatin and King City.
According to the settlement, Tigard denies any “liability or fault or wrongdoing” related to the shooting. A representative for Tigard did not immediately respond Wednesday to an inquiry from The Oregonian/OregonLive.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon about the settlement, David Park, an attorney for the victim’s mother, Maria Macduff, showed police footage taken during the shooting and described a rapid and unexplained series of decisions by Tigard police officers that resulted in Jacob Macduff’s death.
Maria Macduff said in a statement provided by Park and another attorney that her son should never have died. “My deepest desire since this happened has been to do everything possible to make sure no other family loses a child the way I have,” she said. “I believe we’ve accomplished that.”
Tigard police responded shortly after 4 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021, to a reported domestic disturbance at an apartment complex on Southwest Hall Boulevard and Bonita Road. Macduff, who had mental illness, had been yelling at his roommate and banging his head on the wall forcefully and repeatedly, prompting multiple residents to call 911.
Macduff had a history of mental health hospitalizations, and his friends had called 911 multiple times that week as his behavior became increasingly volatile, including an instance of him punching holes in the walls of his apartment.
A police dispatcher told a responding officer that police had been called to the apartment complex the day before, and that Macduff had 12-34 issues – a code that refers to concerns about a person’s mental health. The first officers at the scene spoke to Macduff’s roommate, who told them he was having a “psychotic episode,” Park said.
Officers found Macduff locked inside his gray Nissan truck, which was parked in his designated parking spot underneath his apartment complex. When Macduff refused to get out of his truck, the officers called for back-up.
Over the next hour and 14 minutes, an officer spoke to Macduff through his window. A police car parked behind Macduff’s truck to block him in, and spike strips were placed behind the truck’s back tires to prevent him from driving away.
Maria Macduff said she spoke to police on the phone minutes before her son was killed, giving them permission to enter the truck, which was registered to her. She told police that her son’s behavior was the result of mental illness and asked them to “be gentle with my son.”
Park said that officers, “for reasons that aren’t explained,” decided sometime after 5 p.m. to remove Jacob Macduff by breaking his car window and pulling him out of the truck, either through the window or an open door, and arrest him on a domestic violence charge.
During the news conference, Park showed dash camera footage captured at 5:48 p.m. by a Tigard police car at the scene. The split-screen footage showed part of the truck and several officers but did not show Macduff or the officers who fired at him.
According to the video, an officer lifted a hand as if to make a signal. The motion was followed by the sounds of yelling and two loud shots, followed quickly by five more loud shots. An officer is heard yelling “show me your hands” and “keep your hands up,” followed by three more shots. The interaction happened in less than 30 seconds.
According to Park, Macduff moved inside of his truck when Officer Gabriel Maldonado broke the window next to him, prompting another officer to fire his beanbag weapon without warning at the windshield. Park showed a photo of the cracked windshield, which had two holes in it.
Unsure of where the shots had come from, Park said Maldonado fired his gun five times at Macduff, killing him.
Maldonado later told officials he fired several more times because he thought Macduff, who was turned away from him, was holding a knife.
Police later found a sportsman’s ax under the rear passenger seat and three knives in the center console, according to an inventory of items seized from the truck. Police also found a small Swiss Army knife that was fastened to a fanny pack. It is unclear from the reports which knife Maldonado thought he saw in Macduff’s hands.
Bullets struck Macduff eight times in the chest, back and arm, according to the autopsy by the state medical examiner.
Park said the police shooting of Macduff, who had not been threatening and who officers knew didn’t have a firearm, was “indefensible.”
“There was no reason not to simply wait for Jacob to make the decision to come out. We never got an explanation for the impatience of these officers,” Park said. “Hopefully the city of Tigard will take this opportunity to learn from this.”
Maria Macduff said she received almost no information in the days after her son’s death from the city’s police department or the Washington County District Attorney’s office. She learned from her son’s death certificate that he had been shot multiple times in the torso by police.
Maldonado, a 14-year veteran of the suburban police department, was put on paid “critical incident leave” while the shooting was investigated. He retired several months later from the department and was hired in April by the Port of Portland police department, who put him on paid administrative leave after learning he was still under investigation.
In April 2021, Maria Macduff’s attorney Scott Levin filed a tort claim against the city and its police department.
The following month, the Washington County District Attorney’s office asked the state’s Department of Justice to review the fatal shooting and do an “independent evaluation” of the police department’s investigation. The request came a week after Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum agreed to review the fatal shooting by Portland police officers of Robert Delgado in Lents Park.
A grand jury convened by Oregon’s attorney general in September 2021 concluded Maldonado was justified in shooting Macduff.
In a December 2021 sympathy letter, Tigard Police Chief Kathy McAlpine told Maria Macduff “we did not protect or serve Jacob.”
According to Park, Macduff, who lives in Santa Barbara, was pleased with the settlement, and believed it would make a difference, but that “it will never bring her son back.”
“The worst thing about this for Maria Macduff is that she spoke with an officer and told the officer that her son had mental health issues and that he was in crisis,” Park said. “She was waiting for an opportunity to speak with him and didn’t get that opportunity.”
— Catalina Gaitán
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