By Associated Press • 

Officer cleared in shooting of Bend driver

BEND — A police officer who fatally shot a motorist in Bend, Oregon, last December will not be charged with a crime, the Oregon Department of Justice said Tuesday.

The agency said in a letter obtained by The Bulletin newspaper that Officer Scott Schaier was justified in using deadly force because Michael Jacques was trying to escape, putting the lives of Schaier and others at risk.

According to the Justice Department:

Jacques, 31, was pulled over Dec. 23 because of reports he was driving erratically. He had glassy, bloodshot eyes and was unresponsive to questions from Schaier and Officer Marc Tisher.

After Schaier opened the driver's side door, the motorist pulled Schaier into the vehicle and began punching him in the head, authorities said. Both officers deployed Tasers to no avail. Schaier then sprayed pepper gel on Jacques, also with no effect, according to authorities.

The van lurched forward; the tires screeched and spun in place. Schaier yelled out, “Put the car in park now!”

Schaier told investigators he was afraid that he or Tisher would get run over or dragged by the van. He drew his handgun and fired five shots, killing the unarmed Jacques.

“He used deadly force against Mr. Jacques because he believed that his life, Officer Tisher's life, and the lives of the numerous pedestrians nearby were at risk from Mr. Jacques,” the letter states.

The state Justice Department took over the investigation because the Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel had a conflict of interest. He previously had hired the attorney retained by Jacques’ mother.

Before reaching their conclusion, investigators reviewed interviews with 50 witnesses and more than 80 reports.

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