A Wallowa County Grand Jury has found police were justified in using deadly physical force that killed a Wallowa man.
The grand jury reached its findings Wednesday regarding the police shooting of James A. Blair on May 21 in Wallowa.
An Oregon State Police news release said the grand jury found OSP Trooper Brian Miller, Senior Trooper Berry Taft and Wallowa County Sheriff's Deputy Kevin McQuead were justified in their use of deadly physical force.
Miller, a four year veteran, Taft, a 10-year veteran, and McQuead responded to a report of acts of public indecency the night of May 21. They went to the residence of Blair, who lived across the street from a youth baseball field.
Around 8:30 p.m., a citizen told McQuead and Miller that during a Little League baseball game earlier in the evening she had seen Blair committing three acts of public indecency in the presence of children.
Taft then arrived. McQuead and Taft approached the front door of Blair's residence, while Miller stayed where he could see the back door. McQuead knocked on the front door, but Blair did not respond immediately.
After a short time Blair opened the front door but not the screen door. McQuead and Taft were each in full uniform, displaying badges, and Blair acknowledged they were "cops" but refused to come outside.
Miller, hearing the conversation, moved to where he could see the other officers and hear what was being said.
Blair continued to refuse to come outside and threatened to shoot himself if police came inside. Blair than quickly moved into the living room of the house.
McQuead then broke through the screen and opened the locked screen door. He entered the house with Taft behind him.
As he entered the small living room, McQuead saw Blair had a handgun and was leveling it at him. McQuead yelled, "No," and tackled Blair. Blair fired one shot from under McQuead's arm that missed Taft by inches and hit the wall near the front door. Taft joined the struggle to disarm Blair, who was still trying to fire his handgun.
Miller had entered the room, saw the struggle and fired his handgun twice, hitting Blair once in the shoulder and once in the head. Blair went limp after the second shot, and Taft was then able to remove the gun from Blair's hand and set it aside.
Taft confirmed Blair was dead.
The entire incident, from the time McQuead broke through the screen to the time Blair was disarmed, took approximately 11 seconds.
Investigators discovered the handgun Blair fired had one spent casing, five remaining live rounds and was in a half-cocked position, indicating Blair was attempting a second shot.
Oregon medical examiner Dr. Karen Gunson performed an autopsy on Blair's body. She reported the cause of death was as a gunshot wound to the head and chest.