Police cleared in 2 in-custody deaths

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. -- Two men have died this year while being taken into police custody, and a Douglas County Grand Jury has ruled that the use of force in both cases was justified.

A report released by the District Attorney's office says that meth use and excited delirium were contributing factors in both deaths.

 

The DA's office says that on March 3 just after 8:30 pm, Walter Ray McKelvey called 911 and said that two men were following him. When a deputy arrived to talk to McKelvey, officials say they found nobody following him.

When deputies refused to give McKelvey a ride to the casino, they say he went out into the street trying to flag cars down.

After a struggle, deputies used a Taser to subdue him.

Officials say McKelvey continued to talk with them after he was taken into custody, but stopped breathing shortly afterwards. Deputies say they started CPR on him, but they were not able to revive him.

An autopsy was performed by the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office and it was determined that the cause of McKelvey’s death was methamphetamine intoxication, excited delirium and a colloid cyst of the third ventricle.

The second incident happened in June of this year, when police say Gregory Allen Price fought with officers trying to take him into custody.

Police say that Price had jumped on a vehicle in front of the Douglas County Courthouse, shortly after being released from jail.

Officers say they used a Taser to try and take Price into custody.

Price quit breathing after being subdued, and officers began CPR on him. He died at the scene, according to authorities.

The autopsy on Price found his cause of death to be, "Atherosclerotic coronary artery disease with physiologic stress associated with an altercation with police officers, methamphetamine use, and excited delirium as contributing factors."

The Douglas County Major Crimes Team investigated both deaths.

DA's office statement on McKelvey:

On December 2, 2013, a Douglas County Grand Jury unanimously found that the force used by two Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputies against Walter Ray McKelvey on March 3, 2013, was justified.

On March 3, 2013, at approximately 8:38pm, Walter Ray McKelvey (DOB 9/21/86) placed a call to 911 stating that he was at the Rays Food Place in Canyonville and was requesting police assistance because he was being followed by two unknown males. A deputy was dispatched to the location and upon arrival, spoke to Walter McKelvey in the store. At that time, the deputy was able to determine that there was in fact no one following Mr. McKelvey.

Mr. McKelvey then asked the deputy for a ride to the Seven Feather’s Casino. Mr. McKelvey was informed that the shuttle to the casino had just pulled in to the parking lot and he could take that to the casino. Mr. McKelvey declined to get on the shuttle and instead walked out on to Main Street and started to flag down passing vehicles. By this time, a second deputy had arrived on scene and the deputies attempted to talk Mr. McKelvey out of the street and on to the sidewalk with them. Mr. McKelvey continued to stay in the street and impede traffic, so the deputies attempted to detain him. Mr. McKelvey resisted their attempt to detain him and ran down the middle of the street.

The deputies gave Mr. McKelvey numerous commands to stop running while they chased him down the street, but those commands were ignored. The deputies deployed their tasers and attempted to take Mr. McKelvey in to custody. Mr. McKelvey continued to struggle with the deputies after the tasers were deployed and after struggling with Mr. McKelvey for a period of time, the deputies were able to place him in custody. Mr. McKelvey continued to struggle and speak with the deputies even after being placed in custody and shortly afterwards, he stopped breathing. The deputies immediately began CPR and continued CPR for approximately 6 minutes while waiting for medical help. Once medical help arrived on scene, they took over CPR but were unable to revive Mr. McKelvey, and he was pronounced deceased at 10:06pm.

The incident was investigated by the Douglas County Major Crimes team. An autopsy was performed by the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office and it was determined that the cause of Mr. McKelvey’s death was methamphetamine intoxication, excited delirium and a colloid cyst of the third ventricle.

The Grand Jury heard testimony from 15 witnesses over the course of two days. These witnesses included an expert witness regarding how tasers work, the effect of the taser’s current on the body, and how to interpret the information automatically stored in the taser during its use. They also heard testimony from the Deputy Medical Examiner, the officers involved in the incident, and from witnesses who observed the incident.

 

DA's office statement on Price:

On Tuesday, November 26, 2013, a Douglas County Grand Jury found that the force used by two Roseburg Police Department officers against Gregory Allen Price on Saturday, June 22, 2013, was justified.

Gregory Allen Price (dob 05-01-1957) died on June 22, 2013, after an altercation with officers who were attempting to take him into custody.  Officers were dispatched to the front lawn of the Douglas County Courthouse regarding a complaint that a man, who was later identified as Price, attempted to enter one vehicle, and then jumped on the trunk of another vehicle, while the two vehicles were at an intersection.  Price was speaking and acting erratically, refused to comply with the officers’ commands, and physically resisted being placed under arrest.  Price continued to struggle with officers even after they used their tasers in an attempt to gain Price’s compliance.  Shortly after placing Price in handcuffs, the officers realized that he was not breathing and commenced CPR.  Medical personnel were called to the scene but were unable to revive Mr. Price. 

The incident was investigated by the Douglas County Major Crimes Team  An autopsy was performed by the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office, and it was found that the cause of Mr. Price’s death was atherosclerotic coronary artery disease with physiologic stress associated with an altercation with police officers, methamphetamine use, and excited delirium as contributing factors.

The Grand Jury heard testimony over the course of two days, which included testimony from an expert witness regarding how tasers work, the effect of the taser’s current on the body, and how to interpret the information automatically stored in the taser during its use.  They also heard testimony from the Deputy Medical Examiner who performed the autopsy, several witnesses to the incident, officers involved in the investigation, and paramedics who responded to the scene and provided medical treatment to Price.