Polk grand jury clears officers in December shooting in Dallas

Polk County District Attorney says determination was unanimous

A grand jury found Dallas officers' use of deadly force was justified in the Dec. 16 shooting in the Dallas Walmart parking lot.

Photo by Lukas Eggen
A grand jury found Dallas officers' use of deadly force was justified in the Dec. 16 shooting in the Dallas Walmart parking lot.

DALLAS – A Polk County grand jury found that two Dallas police officers were justified in using deadly force during the Dec. 16 shooting incident that killed Jeremiah N. Anderson.

The grand jury’s finding was reached Friday and was unanimous, said a press release from the Polk County District Attorney’s Office.

On Dec. 16 at approximately 5:18 p.m., a 911 caller reported a suspicious vehicle in the Dallas Walmart parking lot, 321 NE Kings Valley Highway. The caller described the vehicle as a green F-150 pickup truck and said the driver of the truck appeared to be intoxicated and was flailing around in the driver’s seat.

Dallas police officers Aaron Mollahan and Michael Fleming, and Sgt. Rob Hatchell were dispatched to investigate the call. They contacted the driver of the pickup truck, identified as Jeremiah Nels Anderson. According to the DA’s office, Anderson confirmed to the officers that he had driven himself to the Walmart in the pickup truck.

Mollahan developed probable cause to believe Anderson was impaired by a controlled substance, based on “poor performance on several field sobriety tests as well as his confused demeanor and speech,” the DA’s office said.

Anderson refused the officers’ verbal requests for consent to pat him down for weapons.

The officers determined they had probable cause to arrest Anderson on driving under the influence of intoxicants and asked him to place his hands behind his back to be cuffed.

At that point, Anderson actively began resisting arrest and trying to break free from physical restraint. Anderson was told repeatedly to stop resisting and continued to struggle with the three officers, the release said.

The officers restrained Anderson face down, but were unable to get his arms out from under him. At this point, Anderson told officers he would shoot, and produced a .45 caliber pistol from a shoulder holster. He fired at least two bullets, hitting Hatchell in the leg, according to reports from the DA's office.

Hatchell returned fire at close range, striking Anderson in the lower extremities, the report stated. Anderson continued to struggle. Fleming fired one shot, striking Anderson in the head, according to the DA's office.

Anderson died at the scene. Hatchell suffered extensive injuries to his leg and back, the DA's report stated.

The grand jury found that Hatchell and Fleming's use of deadly force were lawful and justified because:

  • The use of physical force was necessary to defend the police officer or another person from the use or threatened imminent use of deadly physical force; and
  • The officer's life or personal safety was endangered in the particular circumstance involved.

A subsequent search of Anderson's home located both methamphetamine and .45 caliber ammunition consistent with the gun he used to shoot Hatchell, according to reports from the DA's office.

The Oregon State Police conducted the investigation. The Polk County District Attorney's Office presented the evidence to the grand jury.

The grand jury heard testimony from the three involved Dallas officers. Also testifying were detectives and troopers from OSP and five citizen witnesses.

The grand jury also reviewed a scene diagram, a report of the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office, as well as dash camera and body camera video.

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