Elgin cop cleared in fatal shooting


A Union County Grand Jury exonerated the Elgin police officer who shot and killed a man Aug. 1.

Officer Erik Kilpatrick confronted Richard Shafer at Shafer’s home in the small mill community north of La Grande. Shafer and his wife, Gloria, were dividing their property when a dispute arose and she called police, according to a description of the event released Thursday by Union County District Attorney Tim Thompson.

Eventually Shafer produced a rifle; Kilpatrick fired a stun weapon at him and missed, according to Thompson’s statement. After wrestling for the rifle, Kilpatrick drew his pistol and shot Shafer several times, striking him in the upper chest and left shoulder, according to Thompson.

“The grand jury determined that Officer Kilpatrick’s use of deadly physical force under the circumstances was fully justified under Oregon law,” Thompson stated. “No further action in this matter is anticipated or merited.”

Kilpatrick has been on paid leave since the shooting.

“This has been really hard,” Misty Shafer-Calhoun, one of Shafer’s daughters, said Friday. “I don’t agree with it. I don’t think they or anyone will ever know what happened in that house.”

“My dad was never a violent person,”?she said. “I don’t think he ever spanked us.”

Elgin Police Chief Kevin Lynch did not return a call by deadline today.

Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts, who responded to Elgin’s call for guidance in the aftermath of the shooting, said the shooting divided Elgin residents, whatever the grand jury finding. He likened the atmosphere in town as to a “boiling cauldron.”

Many in the 1,700-member community were distrustful of the police before the shooting, Roberts said.

The city mailed about 1,500 surveys in the wake of the shooting, seeking input on police service. Roberts said about 200 surveys came back.

“There were people showing up at that meeting with over a hundred surveys in their hands for fear of retribution and retaliation,” he said. “That’s a community divided. That’s a community in crisis. That’s going to require significant intervention.”

According to Thompson’s statement on the grand jury finding:

Gloria Shafer called 9-1-1 at 7:24 a.m., saying her husband refused to leave their home at 480 S. Eighth St.

Kilpatrick arrived at 7:38 a.m., and Richard Shafer invited him inside. Richard Shafer had objected to Gloria’s removal of some of the items.

At one point Kilpatrick turned to speak to Richard Shafer, who had picked up a rifle, according to Thompson’s statement. Believing the rifle was loaded, Kilpatrick drew his pistol and repeatedly ordered Shafer to drop the rifle.

Shafer refused; Kilpatrick with his left han drew and fired a stun gun. He missed.

The officer advanced toward Shafer and tried to “manually stun” him, but the stun gun was dropped or knocked from his hand.

Kilpatrick grabbed the rifle barrel. During the struggle Shafer pointed the muzzle in Kilpatrick’s direction.

Kilpatrick fired five rounds from his pistol, striking Shafer and killing him.

Kilpatrick called in the shooting at 7:45 a.m.

Gloria Shafer gave a different version of events, according to Thompson. She said her husband didn’t drop the gun, but ejected the magazine and told Kilpatrick the gun was unloaded. She reported that her husband dropped the rifle, then Kilpatrick shot him with the stun gun. Her husband was unarmed when Kilpatrick shot him, she told investigators.

However, investigators found evidence to the contrary, according to Thompson. For example, a bullet from Kilpatrick’s pistol lodged in the rifle and another struck near the trigger housing.

According to Thompson, state medical examiner determined Shafer’s bullet wounds were consistent with him holding a rifle when Kilpatrick fired.

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