Officers who killed Devon Shane Linville cleared by jury

From the Bend Bulletin, October 07, 2006

Three officers involved in the fatal shooting of a 35-year-old La Pine man on Sept. 15 were justified in using deadly force, according to findings by a grand jury and the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office released Friday.

Devon Shane Linville died from a close-range bullet wound to the chest that went through his aorta – the largest artery in the human body. He was shot a total of four times by three officers, a report prepared by the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office said.

Officers in shooting in La Pine cleared by jury

Officers in shooting in La Pine cleared by jury

A grand jury heard investigative information and testimony about the shooting for three days behind closed doors this week and issued its findings Friday afternoon.

Officials had declined to provide much detail about the incident pending the grand jury’s decision, but on Friday Deschutes County District Attorney Mike Dugan released a report detailing the facts surrounding the shooting.

Glenda Linville, Devon’s mother, corroborated many of the facts detailed in the report during interviews with The Bulletin.

Linville said she called police to their home at about 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, because her son Devon had put his hands on her throat during a manic episode and threatened to kill her.

She explained to the dispatcher that her son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that he was not taking his medications.

Earlier in the evening, she said, Devon had become agitated during a visitation exchange with his 11-year-old son’s mother. He burst from his room and yelled that he was God before putting his hands on his mother’s neck and threatening her.

Glenda Linville said that her son did not strangle her, but the report issued Friday said that her neck was red when officers arrived.

The report said that Devon Linville also put his hands on his son’s mother’s throat and pushed her against a wall.

Death of Devon Shane Linville

6:28 p.m. – Glenda Linville calls 911 to report that her 35-year-old son, who has bipolar disorder and is not taking his medications, is out of control inside their home.

6:29 p.m. – Officers from the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police are dispatched to the residence.

6:50 p.m. – Oregon State Trooper William Duran and Deschutes County Sheriff’s Deputy Tory Flory arrive and contact Glenda Linville. They try to talk Devon Linville into coming out of the house, but are unsuccessful and call for backup. Linville reportedly has a knife in his hand.

7:25 p.m. – Backup Deputy Justin Alps arrives with another deputy, both armed with beanbag-propelling shotguns.

7:48 p.m. – Lt. Myrna Homan, supervisor on duty at the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, arrives and decides that officers should enter the residence. After a confrontation, Devon Linville is shot four times.

7:55 p.m. – Homan calls for medics immediately after the shooting.

8:03 p.m. – Medics arrive and declare Devon Linville dead.

The two women left and Glenda Linville called 911.

“I was so hopeful that this time I could get him some help,” she said of making the 911 call. “When I tried in the past they said he had to hurt himself or someone else, and he had never hurt anybody.”

Oregon State Trooper William Duran and Deschutes County Sheriff’s Deputy Tory Flory arrived first and talked to her about the situation at a neighbor’s house a few doors down.

“I told them not to go up to the house with their lights and sirens on because that would just upset him,” she said.

They complied with her request and walked up to a window to talk to her son.

Devon Linville was agitated and made threatening statements to the officers before telling them to leave, the report states.

Bob Busher, a next-door neighbor who was home at the time, said in an interview two days after the shooting that Linville was speaking calmly to police at first, but minutes later things changed.

Duran and Flory reported that Linville was holding a double-edged knife that was about 8 inches long, including the handle, the report said.

He threatened to cut off his mother’s head, then said that he was God and that he had stolen the officers’ souls, according to the report. He then told the officers they were already dead.

Linville went into his backyard and “continued to threaten Deputy Flory and continued to make delusional statements,” the report states.

A neighbor came to warn the officers about Linville’s mental illness and Flory ordered him to return to his house. Linville then went back into his house.

Flory thought Linville should be evaluated for mental health issues, according to the report.

Under Oregon law, police are required to make an arrest when they believe a domestic violence crime has been committed. Knowing this, Flory called backup to help take Linville into custody, the report said.

Two sheriff’s deputies with beanbag-propelling shotguns, designed to incapacitate a person, arrived at 7:25 p.m.

Lt. Myrna Homan of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office was the supervising officer on duty at the time. She ordered the deputies to stay out of the home until she arrived.

Homan got to the residence at 7:48 p.m. and tried to reason with Linville through a window, but he was still holding the knife and threatened to kill her, the report said. He also told Homan that he had strangled his mother and would kill his mother if she came back to the home.

Homan “considered other options available,” the report states, but decided to enter the home.

“I don’t understand why they didn’t call someone who was specially trained,” Glenda Linville said. “I told them he was bipolar and manic.”

Deschutes County Sheriff Les Stiles declined to comment on the case Friday. Stiles said he did not have access to all of the information gathered during the investigation.

“We also will be conducting an internal investigation,” he said, “to see if what the deputies did was consistent with office policy and procedure.”

When Homan gave the order to go in, Flory tried to distract Linville by talking to him through a bedroom window while Duran crawled inside through a window near the front door.

Flory had been ordered to shoot Linville with pepper spray if he got close enough.

Flory reported that Linville heard Duran, who was facing away from Linville as he unlocked the front door, and headed toward the trooper with a knife raised over his head.

Deputy Justin Alps, armed with a beanbag gun, was first through the door and fired three beanbag rounds at Linville, driving him back into the bedroom.

One of the beanbags hit Linville in the throat and fractured his trachea, an autopsy showed, and two others hit him on the left side and left arm.

But the beanbag shots did not stop Linville, and he came at Alps with the knife, the report said.

Alps bearhugged Linville as he tried to stab him. The deputy could not get to his gun.

Duran, who was still in the house, drew his weapon and shot Linville in the left thigh.

From outside, Flory shot Linville through a window once on the right side of his torso.

Alps freed his pistol from its holster and fired three shots at close range.

The autopsy showed that Linville was hit in the chest and left arm. Alps’ third shot did not hit him.

Minutes after the shooting, medics arrived and declared Linville dead.

A major incident team, made up of investigators from multiple law enforcement agencies, was called in to investigate the shooting, said Bend Police Chief Andy Jordan. This is standard procedure whenever an officer-involved shooting happens, he said.

Jordan’s department led the investigation into the Linville shooting and prepared the information for the grand jury.

“Our role in this is to gather facts, not to decide if any policies were broken,” Jordan said. “We are looking strictly from a criminal investigator’s point of view and doing fact-finding.”

Prosecutors from the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office presented those findings to the grand jury.

Now, Linville’s mother is left to wonder what else might have been done.

After a manic episode six weeks before his death, Glenda Linville convinced her son to let her check him into St. Charles Medical Center-Bend to get help for his illness.

She said he had been ranting and raving, pacing the floors and talking to God. He rarely slept and sometimes fasted for days at a time.

At the hospital, Devon Linville was diagnosed as delusional and manic, according to hospital records.

He told doctors that he believed he was the Messiah and that he had frequent communications with God.

Two physicians recommended putting a psychiatric hold on Linville on July 30, records show, but he was released from the hospital the following day.

“He wouldn’t take their medications so they let him out,” Glenda Linville said.

After that she sought help from La Pine emergency medical technicians and the Deschutes County Mental Health Department, as well as the Sheriff’s Office, she said.

But the standard for involuntary commitment under Oregon law is very specific, according to Terry Schroeder, crisis assessment team supervisor at the Deschutes County Mental Health Department.

Shroeder said he could not comment on a specific case but explained the law generally.

To be subject to a psychiatric hold, Shroeder said, a person must have a mental illness and pose an imminent risk to him or herself or others.

“Or the person must be unable to take care of basic health and safety needs such that an imminent risk is present,” Shroeder said.

He gave the example of a person sitting out in extreme cold weather without any way to stay warm.

“Clinical judgment plays a critical role in each case, but that is the legal standard,” Shroeder said.

Shroeder’s department puts psychiatric holds on about 200 people each year, Schroeder said.

The conclusion of the grand jury proceedings means the officers involved in the shooting can return to work, according to the policies of both agencies.

They were on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

But the inquiry into the shooting is not over, according to Stiles.

“We still have an internal review protocol,” he said, “and until that process is completed I can’t answer any questions.”