Early Monday morning, officers with the Salem Police Department shot and killed a man who drove into Northgate Park after police attempted a traffic stop.
I'm bothered that the Salem Police Department isn't saying what led to the shooting, or if the man was armed. An OPB story describes what happened. It's unclear what caused the death of the man's dog.
Salem police officers fatally shot a man Monday during what officers called a “confrontation.”
The shooting happened at Northgate Park, and began as a traffic stop. A dog that was with the man was injured in the shooting, and later euthanized.
According to Oregon State Police, which is the agency investigating the shooting, Salem Police officer Griffin McDowell attempted a traffic stop on a gold Mercedes in northeast Salem around 12:37 a.m. Instead of pulling over, police said, the driver of the car fled from the officer in the vehicle.
The person driving, identified as 40-year-old Richard Allan Meyers, ultimately drove into the park on Northgate Avenue. Meyers entered the northeast parking lot and then drove onto the northern field of the park.
Additional Salem officers responded, and they stopped the Mercedes in the field. Police did not describe the shooting in detail, but said a confrontation ensued. It was at that point, according to Oregon State Police, that three Salem officers fired their department-issued firearms.
Police did not say if Meyers was armed, or what had led to the shooting.
Emergency medical staff transported Meyers to Salem Hospital where he later died.
A pitbull that was in Meyers’ vehicle was injured and transported to a veterinary clinic, but Meyers’ family decided to put the dog down.
Four officers — Chad Treichler, Griffin McDowell, Jonathan McNichols and David Baker — were placed on administrative leave for either firing their weapon or being on scene during the shooting.
It shouldn't take long for Salem police to issue a statement about central facts such as why the man was being pulled over, whether he was armed, and what led to the killing of the man. So why the delay?
Also, KOIN News is reporting that a person who lives nearby said that investigators asked him to delete a recording made by his security camera that showed the car, but not the shooting. Maybe there is a good explanation for why this was done, but it adds to the suspicion of a coverup.
Carl, a homeowner in the area who only wanted his first name used, told KOIN 6 News his surveillance camera captured video of the car but not the shooting.
“You can see the car coming in from that side and then spinning around and all these cops just swarmed on in, and that’s probalby about when the gunshots were heard,” Carl said. “My cameras don’t have mics on them so you don’t even hear the gunshots.”
Carl also said he gave a copy of the surveillance video to the Oregon State Police. Investigators “told me to” delete that surveillance footage. He didn’t say why they wanted him to delete the footage but guessed it was because OSP didn’t want it shared with anyone while they investigate.
Yesterday I downloaded a copy of the recently-completed Strategic Plan for the Salem Police Department. Scrolling through it, I'd noticed several references to transparency. Here's one of them, from page 11 of the PDF file.
Words are cheap.
I'll believe the Salem Police Department really cares about transparency, information-sharing, and communication when the department truly shows a commitment to "timely and accurate sharing of information."
Whenever police officers kill someone, especially after a traffic stop, people in the community want answers to basic questions. How was the person killed? Was the killing necessary? Did the person present an imminent danger to the officers or others? Was the person armed with a gun?
Suspicions arise when it takes a long time to get answers to simple questions. It sure seems that when a person killed was armed, that information is released much more quickly by police departments than when the person wasn't armed.
There's also a problem when officers involved with a killing have an opportunity to get their story straight by communicating with each other. Hopefully the Salem Police Department isn't allowing this to happen.
Each of the involved officers should have zero contact with each other until the investigation into the killing by the Oregon State Police is completed.