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Grand jury determines officer shooting was justified

No charges brought against Polk deputy

DALLAS -- A Polk County grand jury has unanimously cleared the Polk County deputy in the fatal officer-involved shooting in early July.

Deputy Casey Gibson was found by the grand jury to have been justified in shooting Joshua A. Bolster during a confrontation on Highway 22 on July 5, said Polk County District Attorney Aaron Felton on Wednesday.

Felton said Bolster,29, repeatedly threatened officers on scene and refused to follow commands to get out of his car. He said because of Bolster’s refusal to follow commands and his movements in the vehicle, deputies on scene didn’t feel it was safe to approach the car.

“He said ‘he would not be taken to jail and that they would have to shoot him,” Felton said.

A press release from the Polk County District’s Attorney’s Office regarding the grand jury’s determination described the incident:

“Throughout the exchange, Bolster is partially seated inside the front driver’s side of the vehicle, with much of his body obscured from the deputies. He has full access to the car’s interior contents. The deputies warn him that if he reaches into his car, it will be considered threatening behavior,” the release read. “After being so warned, he removes his hands from the deputies’ sight and begins rummaging in the car’s interior, apparently looking for something. Again, deputies plead with him to stop this activity, because they cannot see what he is doing. Bolster continues to refuse to comply with the deputies’ commands and is verbally combative. Deputy Gibson then fires one shot with his patrol rifle which strikes Bolster, but does not immobilize him. Bolster continues to rummage within his vehicle out of the deputies’ sight as they issue more calls to come out of his vehicle and warn him that his actions are being interpreted as a threat. Dep. Gibson fires a second shot which strikes Bolster in the head.”

Officers found a knife on the front passenger seat after the incident, Felton said.

He said because of Bolster’s “threatening mannerisms” deputies couldn’t determine if he had other weapons with him.

“The legal standard is whether Gibson reasonably believed that he (Bolster) did (have a weapon) and if the threat of deadly physical force was imminent based on Bolter’s actions,” Felton said. “That was the standard the grand jury looked at.”

The grand jury reviewed evidence in the case for eight hours Wednesday before reaching its conclusion.

Before the shooting, officers had been attempting to find Bolster due to his reported involvement in an earlier incident in Monmouth.

According to the investigation by Oregon State Police, Bolster had earlier been seen trespassing at his ex-girlfriend’s apartment in Monmouth, harassing her.

He left the scene before Monmouth officers arrived, but had a confrontation with another tenant of the apartment complex, during which he reportedly pulled a knife, according to OSP reports.

Monmouth officers provided a description of Bolster and his vehicle to other local police agencies in an attempt to locate him, including that he may have been armed with a knife, according to OSP. Police had probable cause to arrest him on charges of trespassing and menacing, according to OSP.

At about 9:45 p.m., Polk County deputies located the vehicle on Highway 22 near Doaks Ferry Road and stopped the car. Deputies attempted to arrest Bolster.

During the confrontation, Gibson fired two shots and hit Bolster.

An OSP trooper arrived on scene in response to requests for assistance by Polk County deputies after shots had been fired.

The trooper took part in attempts to take Bolster, who was not complying with officers’ commands, into custody and employed less lethal means to do so, according to OSP reports.

Bolster was taken to Salem Hospital where he died of his wounds.

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