By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

DA Berry rules Amity officer-involved shooting was justified

Paul Daquilante/News-Register##Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry released his findings Friday morning related to a Saturday, July 7 officer-involved shooting in Amity.
Paul Daquilante/News-Register##Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry released his findings Friday morning related to a Saturday, July 7 officer-involved shooting in Amity.
Paul Daquilante/News-Register##A map details where the incident took place on the north side of Amity.
Paul Daquilante/News-Register##A map details where the incident took place on the north side of Amity.

NEWBERG - Yamhill County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Sam Elliott and deputy Stephanie Sulak were justified in shooting Kelly Sutton Jr. six times, resulting in the death of the 27-year-old Amity resident on the morning of Saturday, July 7.  District Attorney Brad Berry announced the finding during a Friday morning press conference at the Newberg Public Safety Building.

The county's Major Crimes Response Team was responsible for the investigation that was led by Newberg-Dundee Police Det. Sheldon Clay.

As part of his 3 1/2-page report, Berry said an officer is justified in using deadly force when the officer reasonably believes his or her life or the lives of others are in imminent danger.

"In this case, Sgt. Elliott was being strangled at the time he fired the first shots," Berry said. "Even with that, and once there was some separation between he and Mr. Sutton, Mr. Sutton again lunged toward him."

Sutton, who was unarmed, was shot by both Elliott and Sulak at that time, according to Berry.

He concluded by saying, " I find that the actions of the officers, although with a tragic result, were justified given the overall circumstances and conduct of Mr. Sutton."

Elliott is a 17-year veteran of law enforcement, who worked for the McMinnville Police Department before joining the sheriff's office. Sulak has been a rural patrol deputy for  15 months, and YCSO is her first job in law enforcment.

Sheriff Tim Svenson, who attended the press conference, said afterward that Elliott and Sulak will remain on paid administrative leave until an internal investigation by his agency has been completed. That will commence next week.

Providing all agency policies related to an officer involved shooting were followed by Elliott and Sulak, and Svenson said he believes that to be the case based on Berry's report, they are expected to return to duty in a couple of weeks.

The incident escalated extremely quickly, Berry said. To that point, he said only 68 seconds elapsed from the time Sulak said she was "out with the suspect" (Sutton) to the call of "shots fired."

Continuing, Berry said, "Assuming that about 10 seconds lapsed from the time Sulak announced that she was going out to the time she had her patrol car turned around and was back with Sutton, the time of the altercation was even shorter."

Berry said efforts to subdue Sutton by less than lethal force - verbal commands, Taser and hand-to-hand combat - "were wholly ineffective."

An autopsy performed at the state Medical Examiner's Office in Clackams the day following the incident determined Sutton was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time.

At 5:23 a.m. that the Yamhill Communications Agency dispatch center received a 911 call from an Amity homeowner on Rosedell Street saying that she and her husband awoke to a man in their bedroom, and that the husband was talking to him in the living room.

She provided the dispatcher with a clothing and physical description. Both residents described the suspect as "being on something." He had left the home four minutes after the 911 call was made, walking east on Rosedell toward Jellison Avenue.

After arriving in the area, Elliott and Sulak confronted Sutton on Jellison, just south of the corner with Rice Lane, near the elementary school.

See Tuesday's News-Register for additional details.

 

 

 

Comments

Joel2828

Thanks for the article Paul, but after reading it I can't make head nor tails of what actually happened that morning. Any chance you could post a link to Berry's report? Or maybe give a blow by blow detailed account of what went down?

Joel2828

For instance, I have no idea what this means "Assuming that about 10 seconds lapsed from the time Sulak announced that she was going out to the time she had her patrol car turned around and was back with Sutton, the time of the altercation was even shorter."

Paul Daquilante

Joel 2828 . . .

The story will be greatly expanded upon in Tuesday's print edition. Hopefully, any questions you have about the sequence of events will be answered at that time. That version will also replace this account on the website.

Paul Daquilante

ReignJane

Joel2828 the news stations and Yamco Watch all have the 30 minute video of the press conference posted on their sites for everyone to watch.

bonnybedlam

If I ever have to call 911 about an unarmed intruder, I'm going to specifically request the police not shoot him or her. Though since, with all their tools and training and sheer numbers, that still seems to be the only thing they can think of to do, I probably won't call at all.

ReignJane

@bonnybedlam unarmed does not mean someone doesn't have the ability to kill you. Thanks for your uneducated response. If you actually take the time to read the facts of the case presented by DA Berry you would find Sgt. Elliott used a Taser and a baton on the suspect who was fighting them. The suspect still managed to fight through all of that and was in the process of choking Sgt. Elliott unconscious when he shot the suspect to save his own life. If you don't want to call the police that's your decision but at least educate yourself before you complain about the way protect the public and themselves.

Brad M

exactly @ReignJane
@bonny I bet you do call

Bill B

bonnybedlam; trying to describe your statement in one word, but I'm having trouble deciding. Can you help me?

Your choices: stupid, mindless, idiotic, imbecilic, ridiculous, ludicrous, absurd, witless, asinine

Joel2828

I hear ya ReignJane. I too would not want the police to kill an unarmed person high on drugs who wandered into my house and then left and wandered down the street.
But don't forget how traumatizing this is to the deputy's too. Whether it's deemed "justified" or not, unless they are really jaded, hardened people, they will likely be psychologically affected by this for the rest of their life. It's just a horrible situation for everyone involved. My heart and prayers go out to everyone affected.

Joel2828

Woops, it's bonnybedlam's comment that I empathize with. Not ReignJane.

Mudstump

I'm not judging these officers because I don't know the facts. They may have been justified in using deadly force. I wonder if the sheriff's department and local police departments have received training in de-fusing and de-escalation techniques? Are these new techniques part of our local law enforcement's protocol? If so, were they used in this situation?

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