9/17/2013 5:27:00 PM DA: Use of force justified in Sisters shooting
The Deschutes County District Attorney's Office has concluded that the use of force was justified in a shooting incident east of Sisters on August 30.
The DA's report, issued Tuesday, concludes that "Oregon State Police (OSP) Senior Trooper William Duran and Major Travis Hampton were investigating a traffic complaint that quickly escalated to a criminal investigation when William E. Hall threatened the troopers with a firearm and led them on a high speed chase that culminated in the death of Mr. Hall... (T)he troopers' use of deadly physical force was necessary and fully justified."
A medical examiner found that Hall was mortally wounded by police fire, but that the cause of death was suicide by a single gunshot to the head.
The incident began with a citizen's complaint that Hall, driving a vehicle with Texas plates, was driving erratically. Major Hampton stopped Hall near Black Butte Ranch and was joined by Trooper Duran. Both believed Hall to be under the influence of a stimulant, though he passed a field sobriety test. Officers also noted that "Hall's body, including his neck and shaved head, were covered with tattoos, nearly all of which appeared to be prison tattoos expressing Mr. Hall's commitment to White Supremacist philosophy and indicating his association with White Supremacist prison gangs."
The officers determined to seek consent to search the vehicle. Hall returned to his vehicle and displayed a handgun and appeared to be adjusting his grip on it, squeezing it with his hand. He may have been attempting to fire the weapon.
The report notes that "the gun turned out to be a stainless steel, 1911 model .45 ACP with a grip safety and standard thumb safety. It is reasonable to infer that Mr. Hall failed to disengage the thumb safety." The report further notes that deadly force on the part of the officers would have been justified at that time.
Major Hampton decided not to take a shot toward the heavily-trafficked highway.
A pursuit eastbound ensued, which led through Sisters on Cascade Avenue. Trooper Duran was in the lead.
"On several occasions during the pursuit, Sr. Trooper Duran saw Mr. Hall waving the pistol in the air and pointing the pistol back at him. He expected to see the rear window of Mr. Hall's car shatter as Mr. Hall fired at him and more than once took evasive maneuvers believing he was about to be shot. As they approached Sisters, Sr. Trooper Duran was concerned that at the much lower speeds Mr. Hall would have a better opportunity to shoot him so he fell back to a safer distance."
Spike strips were deployed just east of Harrington Loop Road, and Hall turned south onto the gravel roadway. Duran executed a PIT maneuver to spin Hall's vehicle off the roadway facing east, leaving the driver's side door oriented toward Highway 20. He reported being "extremely fearful of being shot and killed" by Hall. He accelerated past Hall's vehicle. Major Hampton pulled up facing the driver's side door.
The officers yelled for Hall to drop his gun, but it remained clearly visible to both officers, who feared they might be shot. Both officers fired multiple shots. Major Hampton determined that Hall was dead and found his pistol in his lap.
According to the DA's report, "Detectives learned that Mr. Hall had recently served approximately 6 years in prison for Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon and that during his time in prison he was a lieutenant in the Aryan Brotherhood, a white supremacist prison gang. They also learned from family members that Mr. Hall had a pending charge of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, that he had recently failed to appear in court for that charge, that his attorney had advised him that he would receive a 25 year sentence if convicted and that Mr. Hall had vowed to commit suicide rather than return to prison."