An officer's experience
Springfield Police Sgt. David Lewis was one of three officers who fired their weapons at 70-year-old Robert Vaughan in July 2017. Vaughan, who refused commands to come out of his home after firing a gun randomly in his residential neighborhood, pointed a gun through his kitchen window at the three officers and all three fired their weapons at him. The other officers were Sgt. Brian Humphreys and Officer Ryan Stone. The Lane County District Attorney later ruled the shooting as justified.
"I remember yelling out to him, and he looked toward me and the pistol came around and was directly pointed out the window toward all of us," Lewis said. "There was not an exchange of gunfire. We fired, and at that point, I saw him instantly disappear."
Thirty minutes later, after the SWAT team geared up and a plan was formulated to enter the home where the shooter's whereabouts or condition were unknown, they entered the house to find Vaughan deceased.
After a shooting, Lewis explained, by protocol each officer involved is separated from one another. They're taken to the police station and photographed, to depict exactly how they were dressed and if it was obvious they were a police officer at the time of the shooting. Their guns are turned over and new weapons are issued. Then, they're placed on mandatory administrative leave until they are interviewed, have met with a psychologist, and the investigation is complete.
Lewis was on leave for about a week after Vaughan's death.
"They just basically ask if you have anything to talk about," Lewis said of the psychologist. "And I said I didn't. And that was it. It was a short meeting."
It was Lewis's only officer-involved shooting in 35 years.
"If you go back and look at your career, if you've been in this job for long, and if you look at all the times you've drawn your weapon, you've challenged people with your weapon, you've been in standoffs of any kind, and you think about all of those times it could have been a potential shooting and it wasn't — it's amazing. And it's a credit to how officers are trained, how they deal with people both verbally and physically, and the tactics they use."
Mike Stradley, who oversees the training and tactics at the Oregon's Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, agreed.
"Most police officers are never involved in a shooting themselves," Stradley said. "But most police officers are involved in a countless number of situations, I certainly was, where I was justified to shoot, and was able to figure out a different way."