Assault investigation goes to the district attorney
Berry will be out of office for about two weeks this month, and said he does not expect to be in a position to render a decision until early to mid August.
Capt. Matt Scales, Sgts. Tim Symons and Dwayne Willis and a detective group headed by Michelle Formway forwarded the file to Berry earlier this week, after spending Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week reviewing the material.
“This incident involved a death, so we have wanted to be accurate, meticulous and thorough,” Police Chief Ron Noble said. “We didn’t want to make a mistake.
“It (the case) was given a second and third look. Everything was reviewed one final time to make sure we didn’t miss anything. Then everything was shipped to the DA’s office.”
Berry said police have kept him “in the loop” regarding the investigation since the beginning.
“It has produced a lot of material to review, and that will take time,” he said.
He will face three options: Forgoing charges because he doesn’t think there is enough evidence to make a case, seeking a set of grand jury indictments because he thinks there is, or seeking additional investigation on one or more aspects.
Agcaoili, 31, died June 4 at the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland of injuries sustained in an assault in the vicinity of Northeast Davis and Third streets. Police originally listed the cause of death as a traumatic brain injury. An autopsy was performed. Neither Berry nor Noble would comment on its findings.
He was beaten by one or more assailants about 3 a.m. First responders initially took him to the Willamette Valley Medical Center, then transferred him to the Portland trauma center.
Symons gave this account:
A 911 caller told a Yamhill Communications Agency dispatcher that a man was lying unconscious on the sidewalk, bleeding from the back of the head. The caller said he had been beaten by individuals who had left the area.
Responding officers found Agcaoili lying on the sidewalk near the Ben Franklin bench in the US Bank plaza. Medics administered emergency aid, then transported him to the McMinnville hospital by fire department ambulance.
According to witnesses, Agcaoili and Adrian Ulloa, 31, of McMinnville, got into an altercation with a group of four to six individuals. The witnesses described them as men in their late 20s to early 30s.
The altercation reportedly began in a downtown bar, then spilled out into the street, witnesses said.
Early on, Symons said, police only had one account to go on — that of Ulloa, who sustained minor injuries. He said Agcaoili never regained a level of responsiveness permitting an interview, and that made the job a lot more difficult.
“The McMinnville Police Department has worked its tail off on this case,” Berry said. “It has taken quite a long time, but the police department has done an extremely thorough investigation.
“That’s what anyone should expect. Between having the crime lab review evidence, and reviewing video and interviewing witnesses, the police department’s work has been very thorough.”
Noble said 17 people were interviewed, some of them more than once. He said search warrants were served at five locations and surveillance video obtained at four — including US Bank — producing a lot of physical evidence also needing assessment.
“This was a complete investigation with hundreds of hours of work involved,” Noble said. “We wanted to get as accurate a picture as possible of what happened.”
The assault triggered a torrent of comments and conversations on the social media site Facebook, many of them speculating about the role of people, places and interactions. Noble said social media information isn’t ignored in an investigation of this magnitude, but investigators must be careful in assessing social media leads.
Noble said he is aware of a website soliciting donations to help defray legal fees that may be incurred by two brothers, should they be charged in connection with the case. However, his team has never publicly identified any targets in its investigation.
He said findings could be summed up this way:
“No one intended for someone to get killed that morning. Andrew Agcaoili’s death was a tragic result of what happened.
“There was a lot of drinking and it was early in the morning. There is no clear-cut answer as to what happened.”
However, he said that hasn’t eased the hurt and frustration felt by friends and relatives of the victim. They are eager to see perpetrators brought to justice, he said, and he understands how they feel.
Noble said one of the department’s responsibilities has been to communicate with the family on how the investigation is progressing. He said Berry as been privy to those discussions.
He said there are specifics of the case that the department can’t address with family members, but it’s tried to be as open as possible. Noble said the family has demonstrated some degree of patience throughout the process.