MARION COUNTY, Ore. — A Marion County grand jury unanimously ruled Monday that the fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Micaiah Clinton was lawful. An investigation found that Clinton shot a Woodburn police officer twice before a deputy returned fire, killing the suspect on April 25.
Around 6:15 a.m. that day, a U.S. Marshal Service spotted Clinton at the Flying J Truck Stop near the town of Aurora, Ore.
Knowing that Clinton had a warrants, including a federal warrant for violating probation after a bank robbery, the U.S. Marshal requested backup from local law enforcement, the Marion County District Attorney's Office said in a release.
The U.S. Marshal was also aware that Clinton had told his probation officer that he would no longer abide by the conditions of his probation, and that he “would never go back to prison," the DA's office said.
When the U.S. Marshal and deputies with the Marion County Sheriff's Office tried to speak with Clinton, authorities said he barricaded himself in a van at the in the truck stop parking lot.
Law enforcement boxed in the van and put spike strips under its tires to prevent Clinton from fleeing. They ordered him to surrender peacefully, but the suspect ignored their commands and a lengthy standoff ensued as SWAT team negotiators attempted to get him to surrender.
After several hours, the DA's office said authorities used gas munitions to get Clinton out of the van, but that had no apparent effect.
Around 10:50 a.m., Clinton "suddenly exited his van wearing a gas mask, body armor and a badge proclaiming to be a 'Sovereign Citizen'" and shot Woodburn Police Officer Jesse Ponce in the upper left thigh and again in the lower right leg, the DA's office said.
Clinton also reportedly fired a shot that struck Officer Ponce’s ballistic shield, another that struck the pistol holstered on Ponce's right hip and four more rounds that went into the police car immediately behind Ponce.
The DA's office said Clinton then started firing at Marion County Deputy and SWAT team member Tyler Morrow, as he came to Officer Ponce’s defense. Deputy Morrow returned fire, striking Clinton three times, once in the head and twice in the chest, killing him.
Officer Ponce was transported to Legacy Emanuel Hospital where he underwent a total of three surgeries. The DA's office said he is expected to make a full recovery.
“This case is an example of the dangerous work our law enforcement officers do every day," said Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson. "There is no doubt that Officer Ponce’s and Deputy Morrow’s heroic actions saved lives, and that Mr. Clinton would have killed Officer Ponce and others had he not been stopped."