What happened to Robert Rinehart


From the Oregonian, March 26, 1992

A man exchanged gunshots with Beaverton police Wednesday night and was found dead a short time later. Police would not say whether their officers had shot him.

Police were called to a heavily wooded area just west of Southwest Murray Boulevard after three bicyclists reported that a man with a gun was threatening them, said public information officer Mark Hyde.

Four officers approached a tent where the cyclists said they saw the armed man. According to Hyde, a man emerged with a handgun and fired at least one shot at them. Two officers returned fire, and the man went back into the tent. A short time later, police approached the tent again and found the man dead inside.

“Can I say that we shot him? No, I can’t,” Hyde said Wednesday night.

However, Hyde added that there is nothing to suggest it was anything other than police gunfire that was the cause of death.

Hyde said police had not identified the man late Wednesday but believe he was living in the tent. He was a white man with a beard and brown hair with gray streaks. He had a medium build and was 5 foot 10 to 6 feet tall.

Hyde said police would not comment on the cause of the man’s death until after an autopsy by the state medical examiner’s office Thursday morning.

The gunfire led police to block off traffic on a seven-block stretch of Southwest Millikan Way between Murray Boulevard and Southwest 152nd Avenue from about 5 until 7:30 p.m.

Hyde said events that led to the shooting apparently began shortly after 4 p.m., when three bicyclists were traveling along railroad tracks. The tracks run north-south and are located about a quarter-mile west of Murray Road, near the old FPS headquarters.

Approximately 150 yards north of Southwest Millikan Way, a transient came out of one of two tents pitched near the tracks, Hyde said. The man approached the cyclists — an adult and two youths — and pointed a gun at the adult’s chest, Hyde said.

“He confronted them with a handgun and told them to get out of the area,” Hyde said.

Hyde said the bicyclists went to Beaverton Mall and called 9-1-1 at 4:26 p.m. to report the man’s ions. Police would not release the names and ages of the riders Wednesday.

When four Beaverton police officers went to the tents about 5 p.m., they told the man to come out of his tent. They also ordered a police dog with them to bark a warning at the man, Hyde said.

The man eventually came out of the tent and fired at least one shot at the two officers standing about 15 feet away, Hyde said.

The two officers returned the gunfire, one shooting a 12-gauge Remington shotgun and the other firing a 9mm Smith & Wesson semiautomatic handgun, and the man retreated inside the tent, Hyde said.

No officer was hit. Hyde said he did not know how many shots the man or the police fired.

The police moved away from the tent to discuss their next move. When they returned to the tent with several Washington County sheriff’s deputies, they found the gunman dead inside it, Hyde said.

No information was available about the location or number of the dead man’s wounds.

Hyde said the shooting would be investigated by a Washington County grand jury.

Hyde said as a general policy, Beaverton police involved in shootings may take time off if they wish.

“It’s probably been half a dozen years since we had a police shooting here,” Hyde said.

Eugene Jacobus, deputy medical examiner for Washington County, was investigating the death Wednesday night. He said he could not comment on the shooting.


From the Oregonian, March 27, 1992

Beaverton police confirmed Thursday that an officer had shot and killed a man identified as Robert Harvey Rinehart, 48, originally from Manzanita.

Rinehart was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police Wednesday afternoon after he reportedly threatened bicycle riders who were passing through a wooded area where Rinehart had been living in a tent.

An autopsy performed by the Oregon state medical examiner showed Rinehart died of shotgun wounds to his face, chest, thigh and right foot, said Mark Hyde, community relations officer for the Beaverton Police Department.

The incident was the first time in 11 years that Beaverton police have been involved in a fatal shooting. Authorities refused to say until after the autopsy that a policeman had inflicted the fatal wounds.

Police went to a wooded area bordering a Burlington Northern Railroad spur line a short distance west of Southwest Murray Boulevard after 9-1-1 dispatchers received a call from Charles J. Parsons, 46, of Beaverton.

Parsons said Thursday that he; his nephew, Charles C. Parsons, 12, of Bellevue, Wash.; and his niece, Lyndsay C. Parsons, 10, of Molalla, were riding their bicycles when a man emerged from the woods carrying a handgun and threatened to kill them.

The elder Parsons said he had taken the traffic-free shortcut many times and had never before had a problem. Wednesday, he said, a man came out of the woods bordering the track, displayed a handgun and ordered the bicyclists to leave.

“He was screaming, cussing at the top of his voice,” Parsons recalled. He shouted, “Get off my property” and threatened “to kill everybody,” Parsons said.

At one point, the man held the gun close to Parsons’ face, Parsons said.

Hyde said four officers arrived at the scene at 5:30 p.m. and found two tents set up about 60 feet apart. The officers split into two groups, one facing each tent, and called out to the man.

Hyde said Rinehart emerged from one of the tent and fired at the officers. The two police closest to him shot back. Hit, Rinehart went back inside the tent, Hyde said. The officers then backed away. Thirty minutes later, when they returned to the tent, accompanied by Washington County sheriff’s deputies, they found Rinehard dead, Hyde said.

Police identified the two officers as Dennis Marley and Robert Davis. Marley, an 11-year police veteran, and Davis, a member of the Beaverton force for two years, were carrying a shotgun and a semiautomatic handgun, Hyde said.

He declined to say which officer held the shotgun. The Beaverton department’s investigation is continuing, he said.

Robert Hermann, chief deputy district attorney for Washington County, said the matter would be presented to a grand jury, probably in two weeks. Every case in Washington County involving a shooting goes to the grand jury.

The officers took Thursday off in accordance with Beaverton police policy.

As detectives from the department gathered evidence at the scene Thursday, they were approached by Nicky Keppinger, 31, who lives in a tent in the same area.

Keppinger described Rinehart as a hermit who had lived in a tent on the site for at least two winters.

“He didn’t want to talk to nobody,” Keppinger said.

Hyde said the wooded area, which borders a large, forested, undeveloped industrial tract to the north stretching to Southwest Jenkins Road and Nike Inc.’s corporate world headquarters, has been used as a camping spot by transients. The number of people living in the area varies by the season, he said.


From the Oregonian, April 17, 1992

A Washington County grand jury decided Thursday that two Beaverton police officers were justified in using deadly physical force in the shooting death of a transient in March.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Robert Hermann said the jury found that the officers were justified in returning fire when Robert Harvey Rinehart, 48, stepped out of a tent about 5:30 p.m. March 27 and fired at them in a wooded area west of Southwest Murray Boulevard.

Officers Dennis Marley and Robert Davis returned shots, and Rinehart, who was hit, went back into the tent.

When officers returned later with sheriff’s deputies, they found Rinehart dead, according to a Beaverton police report.

Rinehart, originally from Manzanita, had lived in a tent in the brushy area about two years, had a Cedar Mill postal box and rode bicycles, according to area residents.

The March 27 incident began when a man called 9-1-1 and said a man had come out of the woods with a handgun and threatened to kill him, his niece and nephew, who were bicycling in the area.

The area borders a Burlington Northern Railroad spur line.

Marley, an 11-year police veteran, and Davis, a Beaverton officer for two years, were among four police officers who responded.

They split into two groups and called out to the man before he came out of the tent with a gun.

Marley had a shotgun and Davis a handgun.

Hermann said both men fired in response to the shooting by Rinehart .

A medical examiner’s autopsy indicated that Rinehart died of shotgun wounds to his face, chest, thigh and right foot.

But, Hermann said, Dr. Larry Lewman, the state medical examiner, said some bullets passed through Rinehart’s body and it was not known whether they were from the shotgun or handgun.

Mark Hyde, public information officer for the Beaverton police, said the department had completed an internal review of the incident and found that no department policies or procedures had been violated.

He said the officers had been kept off duty until the decision was reached April 3 and that both chose to return to work immediately.