Yamhill officer wounds fleeing suspect
The chase wound its way over rural Yamhill Valley roads. It finally came to a close west of Carlton at the intersection of Meadow Lake and Old Moores Valley roads.
The Yamhill County Sheriff’s Office identified the suspect as Bryan Christopher Mitchell, 29, of 860 E. Third St.
Mitchell was transported to the Willamette Valley Medical Center for treatment of a superficial gunshot wound. After being released, he was lodged in the Yamhill County Jail.
Mitchell was arraigned Monday afternoon before Circuit Court Judge Ronald Stone on one count each of attempted aggravated murder, attempted first-degree assault and attempting to elude a police officer, all felonies, along with the misdemeanor traffic offenses of hit-and-run and reckless driving. At the request of District Attorney Brad Berry, Stone ordered him held without bail
The district attorney’s office normally has just five days to present the case to a grand jury, but Berry said there were no openings in this week’s schedule, so asked for and was granted additional time.
Stone scheduled a preliminary hearing for 1:20 p.m. Thursday, April 11. If a grand jury indictment is handed up by then, the proceeding will be canceled.
Stone went on to appoint McMinnville attorney Janmarie Dielschneider to represent the defense.
Mitchell was only charged initially with two counts of attempted third-degree assault and one each of attempt to elude, hit-and-run and reckless driving. That dictated a bail of $32,500, which Capt. Tim Svenson termed low for the nature of the incident.
“We hit him with the initial crimes just to get him lodged,” Svenson said. “All the information will be pieced together, the scene will be processed, the evidence will be reviewed and all of that will be taken to the grand jury. In essence, we’re trying to get the whole picture.”
Authorities gave this account:
About 7 p.m., Trooper Phil Richardson was patroling out of the McMinnville office with a ride-along civilian, an 18-year-old Amity High School student. He clocked a Ford F-150 pickup doing 85 in a 55 mph zone on Highway 47, and pulled it over near Carlton city limits, encountering Mitchell at the wheel.
As Richardson was issuing the citation, Mitchell looked up at him and said, “You’re a dead man.” The trooper termed him visibly angry.
A short time later, Richardson observed Mitchell approaching from the north, apparently having made a U-turn. Mitchell slowed as he passed the trooper and made eye contact.
Mitchell then hung another U-turn and began pursuing Richardson from behind at a high rate of speed. As they approached Highway 99W, Mitchell crashed into the rear of the patrol vehicle, causing serious damage.
Richardson said he was going 64 at the time, so Mitchell must have been going significantly faster.
Following the crash, Richardson activated his emergency lights and siren, called for backup and continued into McMinnville. Mitchell followed initially, then turned around and headed back the other way on Highway 47.
Shortly afterward, Carlton police officer Jacob Herr located Mitchell’s pickup and initiated pursuit. Officers from several other agencies joined in as the chase headed west out of Carlton on Meadow Lake Road and continued toward Haskins Creek Road, near the McMinnville Water Treatment Plant.
There, Mitchell pulled into a large graveled area. He attempted to ram sheriff’s deputy Robert Eubanks’ patrol car, then sped east on Meadow Lake.
Van Cleave fired at that point, hitting Mitchell.
A McMinnville police officer finally brought the pickup to a stop by deploying a set of spike strips. Michell was tased multiple times as officers struggled to take him into custody.
Van Cleave has been placed on paid administrative leave, standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.
Sheriff Jack Crabtree asked the Oregon State Police Major Crimes Section to lead the investigation, because virtually all local agencies, including the county’s Multi-Agency Traffic Team, had been involved in the incident.
The Traffic Team encompasses officers from throughout the county. It was assembled to reconstruct the site where Richardson’s vehicle was rammed and where Van Cleave fired his weapon, according to Svenson.
In the course of the incident, Trooper Nic Cederberg was involved in a single-vehicle crash near the intersection of Highway 47 and Gun Club Road. He was transported to the hospital for treatment, and will be off work for a while, according to OSP Sgt. Brad Hessel.
Hessel said Richardson and student on the ridealong were also taken to the hospital to be checked, as a precautionary measure.
“In these types of situations, our No. 1 goal is public safety,” Svenson said. “However, knowing that he was leading us up into the woods, our concern went from public safety to officer safety.”
Svenson continued, “If he was willing to ram an OSP patrol car and attempt to hit one of our vehicles, at 7 p.m. on Easter Sunday, maybe with the intention of going back to town, we needed to get him stopped before he potentially endangered the public.” Thankfully, he said, “We were able to end this situation somewhat peacefully, and use less lethal types of action, in order to get this guy to comply.”