Police: Man Killed in Klamath Officer-Involved Shooting Had a Gun

An officer-involved shooting and manhunt on October 5 caused Chiloquin schools to go on lockdown. Now Klamath County says that the officers that shot and killed the suspect have been cleared in an independent investigation.

Posted: Nov. 20, 2018 10:26 AM
Updated: Nov. 20, 2018 10:39 AM

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. —

UPDATE: A man shot and killed by Klamath Police officers in early October appeared to be reaching for a firearm, according a statement released today by the Klamath Falls Police Department (KFPD). The statement fleshes out what has so far been a story lacking in significant detail regarding the lead-up to the shooting of 48-year-old Phillip Moskios Jr.

The beginning of KFPD's statement agrees with previous releases from authorities — that Moskios was stopped in his vehicle near Modoc Point as part of a drug investigation. According to KFPD, Moskios had just been released after serving 16 years in prison for weapon and drug offenses and was on probation.

From the beginning, KFPD notes that officers believed Moskios to be armed. During the traffic stop, Moskios reportedly assaulted one of the officers and fled on foot. He then apparently ran toward several officers positioned "a short distance from the initial stop and ran directly at one of the officers."

What happened next is described as follows:

"Mr. Moskios intentionally made movements leading the officers to believe he was retrieving a gun to use against the officers. Two officers fired at Mr. Moskios resulting in his death. Investigators later found Mr. Moskios was in possession of a handgun, as well as a substantial amount of methamphetamine and cash that he left in his vehicle as he fled."

The handgun, drugs and cash were all recovered from Moskios' vehicle and he did not have a gun on his person at the time of the altercation and shooting, KFPD clarified.

As the previous statement from the Klamath County DA's office indicated, an investigation cleared the officers involved of criminal wrongdoing. KFPD identified their officer as Detective Corporal Christopher Zupan:

"Corporal Christopher Zupan is a veteran officer with over 20 years law enforcement experience and has an exemplary service record to the citizens of Klamath Falls. After being placed on administrative leave (per officer involved shooting policy and best practices), Corporal Zupan has returned to full-duty based upon the investigative findings."

(Updated 11/20/18 at 10:25 a.m.)


INITIAL REPORT: Law enforcement officers involved in the shooting death of a man near Modoc Point in Klamath County on October 5 will not be prosecuted following an investigation, the Klamath County District Attorney's office said on Monday.

The DA's office said at the time that 48-year-old Phillip Moskios Jr. was shot and killed by officers after a physical altercation during a traffic stop that day. Moskios reportedly fled the scene after assaulting an officer, and would later be confronted by Klamath Falls Police officers and a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, leading to the shooting.

A statement issued by the DA's office gave little detail on the events that immediately precipitated the shooting — whether Moskios was armed and why the officers opened fire, or even which officer(s) fired the shot(s).

Nevertheless, an independent investigation decided against any criminal charges against the involved officers, according to the DA's office.

"As is standard procedure, an agency not involved in the incident was appointed to lead the ensuing investigation; in this case that was the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office. Due to the involvement of a local office and a federal agency, Klamath County District Attorney Eve Costello enlisted the assistance of the Oregon Department of Justice to review the investigation," the DA's office said in a statement.

The investigation reportedly included interviews with the involved officers, interviews with Moskios' family, friends and coworkers, and the examination of diagrams and videos from the scene, as well as the medical examiner's records.

After evaluating the evidence, the Department of Justice decided that "criminal prosecution of the involved officers is not warranted,"  according to the DA's office.

"The District Attorney’s office appreciates the assistance of the Department of Justice in conducting the review, and in preserving public trust in the neutrality of the investigation that was necessitated by these matters," the DA's office said.

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