Sunday, February 23, 2020
Feb. 23, 2020

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DA: Officer justified in fatal ramming of man with car


ST. HELENS, Ore. — The Columbia County district attorney says a St. Helens police officer was justified in using his patrol car to ram and kill a man who shot at a gas station, tried to carjack two people and sprayed bullets at motorists.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports District Attorney Jeff Auxier said he has closed criminal investigation into the Oct. 9 police confrontation with Michael Veatch of Longview, Washington.

Auxier wrote in a statement that his conclusion is that “police were overwhelmingly justified in their decision to use deadly force in this case, because Veatch was actively trying to kill innocent civilians.”

Police say Veatch shot into a St. Helens gas station and led officers on a chase before getting out of his car and shooting at drivers.

Officer Elijah Merkwan intentionally struck Veatch with his patrol car.

Auxier said a medical examiner conducted an autopsy but hasn’t released the official cause of death. He said initial reports showed that Veatch was struck by the car, propelled forward and died from the impact.

Veatch was connected to an April incident in which Brian Butts shot and killed Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin DeRosier. At the time, police arrested Veatch and questioned him.