MEDFORD, Ore. — In September, an Eagle Point Police officer shot and killed 33-year-old Matthew Graves during an altercation in the bathroom of a Carl's Jr. restaurant. Roughly one month later, a grand jury cleared the officers involved of any wrongdoing.
On Tuesday, the Jackson County District Attorney's Office opted to release the transcript of those proceedings.
While the salient features of the court proceedings have been well publicized in the aftermath — as well as the body cam footage from Officer Cardenas, who fired the shots — the transcript may provide some additional depth for the public in regards to an event that was undeniably tragic, and may well have future consequences in the community.
In 2017, Governor Kate Brown passed a law that requires all grand jury proceedings to be recorded. Jackson, Deschutes and Multnomah counties have been doing so since March 1, 2018 as part of the pilot program. The rest of the state will be required starting July 2019.
If a grand jury decides to not indict the officers in an officer involved shooting, the District Attorney can release the recordings if deemed in the public's interest.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Markiewicz said this officer involved shootings was one of those instances.
"The basis for the office releasing the transcript and seeking the court order was really transparency. I think it's important that people be able to hear what was presented to the grand jury. They've seen the video but now can actually hear the sworn testimony."
The following are a few quotations taken from the transcript. They are selected from different sections, and don't represent a dialogue.
Michael Ernest Graves (Matthew's father):
I heard one of the complaints, or one of the statements, is that Matt was nonresponsive to the officers — and, because of that, they pursued the incident with him. And I, I can see, from being with Matt, that and being afraid of the police, that he probably had one of these mental confusion, panicky . . . he got scared, probably very scared.
And I think that . . . I'm wondering why the police didn't recognize this and, being nonresponsive because he had a mental problem, and that, and that, that could be why he was being nonresponsive. And I think if they had taken that tact, they might have had a different outcome here if, if they would have treated it as a mental illness situation instead of just being aggressively avoiding the police.
He just wasn't processing the matter properly. I think, I think he panicked when he got into the confines of the bathroom, and, and I just wish they would have backed off him and let him cool down. If they had done that, it would have been . . . we would have had a different outcome if they would have just backed off him. He was cornered. He couldn't go anywhere — so why not back off him?
Officer Daniel Cardenas:
At this point, it was very clear to me that this guy was hostile and that he wanted to fight. I didn't want him to go out [of the bathroom] because there's other people out there, and I didn't want to get anyone else involved. The thing about Eagle Point is our community likes to get involved, and it's not a bad thing. It's to our benefit at times.
Like I said, there's always one or two officers working. We're by ourselves out there, and the community really supports us, and there's times where, in situations where we're trying to take somebody into custody, and people help out. And I just didn't want that situation to be in there because I didn't want anyone to get hurt — because it was clear to me that the entire time his posture to me, he's talking to me like this and getting close to me. Every time he does that, I'm like, "alright, here comes the punch, here comes the punch" . . . every time he's doing that, getting closer to me, "here comes the punch."
Officer Clarence Davis:
I yell "Gun" once, maybe twice. I'm not sure. So Officer Cardenas understands or knows that we're dealing with a weapon now. As it's lifting up, pointing at my stomach-chest area, I — as I yell, "Gun," I grab it with my hand, trap it, and push it offline and against the floor and hold it down.
When I do that, the gun goes off. It actually ended up not being a gun. At the point I realized it wasn't a gun, I was getting zapped from the taser. The subject pulled the trigger, it discharged the taser. And there's two contacts on the front part of the taser that doesn't have to have a cartridge to fire — it can just be a touch or a "drive stun," is what they call it.
When it makes connection, you could feel the electrical charge — very painful, very debilitating. I remember, at the point of when I was getting tased by the taser . . . realizing that, at that point, it wasn't a gun at that point. Officer Cardenas, after hearing me say "Gun," disengages from trying to get the subject in custody and wrestling with him, stands up and fires two rounds into the subject due to the weapon being involved.
The full transcript may be viewed or downloaded below.