A district attorney in Oregon has determined the fatal shooting of a middle school parent earlier this month on school grounds was “legally justified as self-defense and the defense of others.”
A school resource officer shot and killed Charles Landeros on Jan. 11 after he pulled out a gun shortly after being asked to leave school grounds amidst a custody dispute with his child’s mother, according to a statement from Lane County District Attorney Patricia W. Perlow.
Landeros was killed in front of his daughter and several other witnesses just outside the front doors of Cascade Middle School in Eugene, Oregon.
The child’s mother had come to the school earlier in the day to ask whether her child had been enrolled in the school. Landeros had allegedly enrolled the girl at the middle school earlier that week, but custody papers showed that the mother had “exclusive control” of where the child would attend school.
Landeros was contacted and also arrived on the scene where he had a discussion with Eugene Police Officer Steve Timm, a school resource officer at the school.
“The conversation was respectful between Officer Timm and Charles Landeros, though Officer Timm reported concern that there would be a problem if Landeros was present if the mother exercised her right to remove the child from the school,” Perlow said in the statement.
After Landeros said he didn’t want to answer any additional questions, he was asked to leave the building but refused.
Shortly after refusing to leave, his child arrived in the hallway “by coincidence” and Landeros began to yell at the child to “go” repeatedly, the district attorney said.
In video released by the prosecutor’s office of Timm’s body camera, Timm and another school resource officer who had arrived on the scene, Eugene Police Officer Aaron Johns, can be seen forcibly removing Landeros out of the building.
The officers tell Landeros he is going to be arrested and try to push him up against a brick wall outside the school’s front doors.
Officer Johns and Landeros begin to struggle and Landeros can be seen in the video pulling a 9 mm firearm out. Other witnesses also reportedly confirmed that the man, who was wearing a “smash the patriarchy” shirt pulled his gun out first.
“Officer Timm yelled that Landeros had a gun,” the statement said.
The struggle between Landeros and Officer Johns, who was trying to gain control of the firearm, continued and Landeros began firing at Officer Timm.
Officer Timm returned fire, fatally shooting Landeros in the temple.
After reviewing the evidence and speaking with witnesses, the district attorney announced Thursday that the shooting was justified.
“Upon making the arrest, their lives, and the lives of others, were placed in danger by Mr. Landeros physically resisting that arrest, brandishing a firearm and firing it twice,” the statement said. “It is unknown why Charles Landeros chose to use deadly force in this circumstance, but he clearly had no regard for the lives of the police officers or the students or staff present, including his child.”
Perlow concluded that Timm had “saved the life” of Officer John and possibly “many others” in the exchange.
“There is no clearer circumstance that the use of deadly force is justified than this,” she said.
Before the district attorney’s findings were announced, Landeros’ family announced through their attorney that they plan to seek an independent review of the shooting, according to The Register-Guard.
“Time and time again, we have seen that police are unable to independently evaluate fellow police officers and their actions,” attorney Lauren Regan said. “For accountability and transparency, the family believes it’s important that this investigation be reviewed by outside experts.”
Landeros has been described as a community activist and military veteran. He also reportedly once attended the middle school where the shooting occurred.
[Photo: Lane County District Attorney’s Office]
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