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Aug-24-2016 22:57printcomments

Polk County Grand Jury Finds Officer Involved Shooting Justified

Joshua Bolster's death has been a controversial subject since it happened.

Joshua Anthony Bolster
Joshua Anthony Bolster
Photo: Family photo

(DALLAS, Ore.) - Today a Polk County Grand Jury unanimously found that Polk County Sheriff's Deputy Casey Gibson was justified in using deadly force when he shot and killed 29-year old Joshua Anthony Bolster on the evening of July 5, 2016.

At approximately 9:18 p.m. that fateful night, Monmouth Police Department officers responded to a complaint from a citizen that a man, later determined to be Joshua Anthony Bolster, had threatened him with a knife that same evening.

The incident described by the victim occurred in the parking lot of an apartment complex located at 302 Monmouth Avenue S, within the City of Monmouth.

Bolster reportedly frightened victim with a knife

According to the victim, Bolster leaned into his vehicle, obtained a folding knife with a 4 -5" blade from inside the car's interior and displayed it while advancing on the victim. The victim informed Monmouth officers he thought Bolster was going to "stab" him.

Bolster drove away before officers arrived to contact him regarding the incident. At approximately 9:21 p.m., Monmouth officers put out an "Attempt to Locate" Bolster based on the physical description of his vehicle.

Polk County Sheriff's Deputies Casey Gibson and Kelly Lorence located Bolster's vehicle driving east bound on highway 22. Deputy Lorence discussed over the radio with Monmouth officers what reason they had to arrest Bolster.

Monmouth police officer Kelli Carpenter informed Lorence that based on the incident involving the knife, probable cause existed to stop Bolster for the crimes of Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Menacing, and Trespassing.

Due to Bolster having a Salem address, deputies Lorence and Gibson concluded that Bolster may be attempting to return to Salem via Hwy 22. They had been patrolling the Wallace Road/Hwy 221 area and headed towards Hwy 22, where they located Bolster at approximately mp 23.

Police conduct "high risk" traffic stop

Based on the information that Bolster may have a weapon in the vehicle and had threatened other persons, Gibson and Lorence elected to perform a "high risk" traffic stop in the interest of officer safety in apprehending Bolster and preventing further flight. Other PCSO units were also responding to the scene.

Deputy Lorence, who was driving the marked PCSO patrol vehicle, initiated the stop via use of his overhead lights.

Bolster, driving a blue 1990s Honda Accord, pulled to the right shoulder and parked without incident. The deputies' vehicle was approximately 50' away from Bolster's vehicle.

Both deputies, with side arms drawn, began giving verbal commands for Bolster to put his hands up and come out of his vehicle.

Deputy Lorence was standing behind his door on the driver's side, and Deputy Gibson was behind the front passenger side door.

According to law enforcement and citizen witnesses, numerous commands to come out of his vehicle were given to Bolster. During this exchange with Bolster, Polk County Sheriff's Deputies Michael Smith and Michael Lauderback arrived on scene.

They also drew their firearms and begin commanding Bolster to come out of his vehicle.

Bolster does not obey officer's orders

Bolster was non-compliant with verbal commands. According to witnesses he is hostile, belligerent, and told the deputies multiple times he will "not go to jail" and they will have to "shoot him."

Bolster also told deputies he needs to get his phone from within the vehicle.

Throughout the exchange, Bolster is partially seated inside the front driver's side of the vehicle, with much of his body obscured from the deputies.

He has full access to the car's interior contents. The deputies warn him that if he reaches into his car, it will be considered threatening behavior.

After being so warned, he removes his hands from the deputies' sight and begins rummaging in the car's interior, apparently looking for something.

Again, deputies plead with him to stop this activity, because they cannot see what he is doing. Bolster continues to refuse to comply with the deputies' commands and is verbally combative.

Officer shoots Bolster, twice

Deputy Gibson then fires one shot with his patrol rifle which strikes Bolster, but does not immobilize him. Bolster continues to rummage within his vehicle out of the deputies' sight as they issue more calls to come out of his vehicle and warn him that his actions are being interpreted as a threat.

Dep. Gibson fires a second shot which strikes Bolster in the head. Bolster was transported to the Salem Hospital where he later succumbed to his wounds.

During a subsequent forensic examination of Bolster's vehicle, the weapon used by him in the earlier Monmouth incident was located on the front passenger seat.

The Oregon State Police conducted the investigation and the Polk County District Attorney's Office presented the evidence to the Grand Jury.

In making their decision, the Grand Jury heard testimony from the four involved deputies, including Deputy Gibson.

Also testifying were officers from the Salem Police Department, Monmouth Police Department, Oregon State Police, Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office, and five citizen witnesses. The Grand Jury also reviewed a scene diagram and photographs.

Applying that evidence to the legal principles regarding the use of deadly force, the Grand Jury found that Deputy Casey Gibson's use of deadly force was lawful and justified because:
1) The use of physical force was necessary to defend the police officer or another person from the use or threatened imminent use of deadly physical force; and
2) The officer's life or personal safety was endangered in the particular circumstance involved.

Source: Polk County District Attorney Press Release

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.