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DA: OSP troopers justified in shooting after suspect fought for detective's gun

Two officers with Oregon State Police have been cleared in the August 6 shooting death of Brandon Jones at the agency's Grants Pass office.

Posted: Sep 3, 2019 11:40 AM
Updated: Sep 3, 2019 6:26 PM

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Two officers with Oregon State Police (OSP) were justified in shooting and killing a man at the agency's Grants Pass office after he tried to gain control of a detective's gun, according to the conclusions of District Attorney Ryan Mulkins following an investigation.

The interagency review began after August 6, when 39-year-old Brandon Christopher Jones died at the OSP office in an officer-involved shooting.

According to the DA's review, OSP began investigating Jones in April of 2019 after learning that he may have had a video on his phone that depicted him sexually abusing a young boy. OSP detectives Brendan Quirke and Cory Sweet were assigned to the case, and they asked Jones to come to the OSP offices for an interview.

Jones first came in on May 10, where he surrendered his phone to the detectives.

"Jones tells Detectives Sweet and Stallsworth that he swears 'to God that [he will] die' before he is sent back to prison," DA Mulkins' report said. Jones was a registered sex offender who had previously served time for sex abuse charges.

On May 10, Jones left the OSP offices without incident. However, the DA found, Jones provided ample evidence that he was willing to fight investigators — to the death, if necessary.

"In April 2019 [Jones] made statements to his girlfriend that he would have a 'shoot out' with the police, and that he would rather die than go back to jail," Mulkins said. "On August 5, 2019 at approximately 11 p.m. [Jones] posted to his Facebook account a statement to the effect of - that if law enforcement tried to arrest him he would respond violently."

By the end of June, a search of Jones' phone uncovered images of child pornography.

On Tuesday, August 6, OSP detective Quirke asked Jones to meet with him again at the Grants Pass offices. He arrived around 10:20 a.m., accompanied by a "female acquaintance." Quirke and Jones met in the lobby of the station.

"Detective Quirke asks [Jones] to accompany him to an interview room so that [he] can ask [Jones] about what was located on [the] cellular telephone," Mulkins said. "Jones refused to accompany Detective Quirke and told [the detective] that he wanted his cellular telephone to be given back."

When OSP refused to give Jones' phone back to him, Jones threatened to leave. Detective Quirke then tried to take Jones into custody.

The DA's review found that Jones threw two punches at the detective. The first punch missed, but the second one connected with Quirke's nose and eye. They then got into a close-quarters struggle, with the detective trying to pin Jones to the ground. Detective Sweet came to aid in getting Jones into custody.

"As Detective Quirke and [Jones] are falling to the ground . . . Jones pulls Detective Quirke’s holster and duty weapon from [his] belt," DA Mulkins said. "Detective Quirke lands on top of [Jones] on the ground. Detective Quirke yells 'he’s grabbing my gun.' [Jones] is actively fighting Detective Quirke and Detective Sweet."

As they struggled on the ground, both Quirke and Jones tried to reach the handgun laying nearby on the ground. Jones got to it first.

"Detective Quirke yells that Brandon Christopher Jones has his gun and advises other officers to shoot [him]," Mulkins said.

Two other officers — Lieutenant Stephanie Bigman and Senior Trooper Josh Quick — ran in to assist while Quirke and Jones continued to struggle over the gun. At one point, Jones was able to point the barrel at Detective Quirke's face before it was pushed away.

One shot fired from the disputed pistol during the struggle before Detective Quirke called again for someone to shoot Jones. This time, Bigman and Quick oblige — shooting Jones three times. Quirke was finally able to pull his gun away, while Jones died at the scene.

"During this incident Lieutenant Bigman and Senior Trooper Quick were justified in using deadly physical force under the circumstances they encountered," DA Mulkins concluded. "No further action in this matter is anticipated nor merited."

Under Oregon law, the use of deadly force is considered justified "when a person reasonably believes that deadly physical force is being, or is about to be, used against another person."

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