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Jan. 24, 2021

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Man, 23, shot by Vancouver police officer during disturbance call ID’d

Irving Rodriguez's condition was not immediately available

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

Nearly a week after Vancouver police shot a man during a disturbance call on Thanksgiving, investigators have identified him as 23-year-old Irving Rodriguez.

Court records for the man — that show his full last name is Diaz-Rodriguez and confirm his age and residence as the address police responded to on the day of the shooting — detail a long history of mental illness and contact with law enforcement, including attempts to get him help.

Diaz-Rodriguez was taken into custody at the shooting scene and transported to an area hospital for treatment, according to a Clark County Sheriff’s Office news release issued Wednesday. The news release did not include an update on the man’s condition.

A spokesman for PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center said: “We don’t have any information to release, including confirming whether he’s at the hospital or not.”

Diaz-Rodriguez is also not listed on the county’s jail roster. On Wednesday, a man who answered a phone number listed as Diaz-Rodriguez’s father’s said he had no information to share and hung up.

The Southwest Washington Independent Investigative Response Team, led by the sheriff’s office, is investigating the shooting. Investigators have so far released little information, including the name of the officer who shot Diaz-Rodriguez.

The Law Enforcement Training and Community Safety Act, formerly known as I-940, calls for a completely independent investigation into police use of deadly force. One of the goals of the law is to increase transparency by law enforcement.

A sheriff’s office spokesman did not respond to an email inquiring about Diaz-Rodriguez’s condition and why his identity had been withheld until Wednesday.

Police shooting

Vancouver police officers were dispatched at 7:04 p.m. to a home in the 2300 block of Southeast 177th Avenue after a family member texted 911 to report a relative was “out of control, and they were afraid he was going to hurt them,” according to the police department. Several family members were inside the home, including an elderly woman.

When officers arrived, the man who was reportedly causing the disturbance was outside. He retreated inside, was seen moving through rooms and, at one point, was seen holding a baseball bat, police said.

Vancouver police said a mobile crisis team, which typically consists of mental health professionals, responded but was unable to de-escalate the situation. Officers used a less-lethal 40 mm device that was ineffective, according to the police department. The man refused to drop the bat.

“He advanced toward officers outside the residence from a recently opened garage door in an apparent attempt to assault them. A Vancouver police officer fired his weapon, hitting the male who was transported to an area hospital,” the police department said.

Emergency dispatch logs show medics had been called to the address at 7:30 p.m. for a “psychiatric/abnormal behavior/suicide attempt” but noted the subject was “non-suicidal and alert.”

The officer who fired his weapon was placed on critical incident leave, which is standard procedure following a police shooting.

Bjorn Freyrson, 55, told The Columbian he was standing at his open back door when he heard a commotion coming from his neighbors’ backyard, around 10:30 or 10:45 p.m. He noted there is a history of conflict there and police showing up in prior situations.

Freyrson heard shouting, so he flashed his flashlight into the yard and yelled for them to quiet down, he said. Everything stopped. But a few minutes later, the shouting started again.

He then heard a “pop,” he said, and six to seven rounds immediately followed.

“There was basically one beat between the time the first round was shot, which was apparently the 40 mm (less-lethal) round. And then all of the sudden, ‘pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,’ after that,” he said.

He looked at the clock and noted it was 11:18 p.m.

Freyrson got dressed, he said, and went around the corner to the neighbors’ house. Police had just started taping off the scene and an ambulance was there, he said.

He learned the next day police had been at the residence since about 7 p.m., when his stepson had driven by and seen them.

Mental health issues

A records search shows Diaz-Rodriguez has faced a number of criminal cases in Clark County Superior Court, two of which are pending. One case alleges third-degree assault, resisting arrest, and third-degree malicious mischief and another alleges first-degree burglary.

A probable cause affidavit filed earlier this year states that Vancouver police responded to Diaz-Rodriguez’s residence on April 28 after his father called 911. At that time, the father told police that Diaz-Rodriguez was schizophrenic, not taking his prescribed medication and was becoming increasingly volatile. (A jail pre-booking sheet shows that Diaz-Rodriguez told police his medication doesn’t work.)

Diaz-Rodriguez’s father said he was in fear of being harmed and that his son had broken a window, and in the past, punched holes in the walls, the affidavit says.

He said his “son needed help, he couldn’t handle him anymore and he wanted him out of the house,” the affidavit reads.

Officers attempted to take Diaz-Rodriguez to a hospital for an involuntary police mental health hold. Diaz-Rodriguez refused and began to swing at officers as they tried to control him and secure him to a gurney. Diaz-Rodriguez bit an officer in the process, according to the affidavit.

It does not appear he was hospitalized, as Diaz-Rodriguez appeared the next morning in court.

In November 2019, Diaz-Rodriguez was arrested after allegedly walking into the home of an old high school friend and assaulting him. A probable cause affidavit in that case says Diaz-Rodriguez entered the man’s house with no warning — the two had not spoken in about five years — and he repeatedly punched him in the face when he was asked to leave.

At that time, Diaz-Rodriguez told police he is schizophrenic and bipolar, according to a jail pre-book sheet.

Efforts to reach his current defense attorney have been unsuccessful.

In March 2018, Diaz-Rodriguez was sentenced to serve nine months in the Clark County Jail for two convictions, both of which stemmed from him breaking into someone else’s home.

In February 2016, he barged into a home along the Columbia River and locked himself inside, claiming it was his. A jail pre-book sheet in that case stated Diaz-Rodriguez did not “have any observable mental health problems.”

While out on bail in that case, in August 2017, Diaz-Rodriguez broke into a home belonging to the father of an old friend. He stole a BB gun, according to a separate probable cause affidavit.

During the sentencing hearing in those cases, his attorney told the court Diaz-Rodriguez has schizo-affective disorder and was hearing voices, which prompted him to enter the houses, according to Columbian archives.

Reporter Jerzy Shedlock contributed to this report.