Dallas officers cleared by grand jury

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 — Two Dallas officers involved in the Dec. 16, 2016, shooting in Dallas that killed Jeremiah N. Anderson will not face charges.

Friday, a Polk County grand jury cleared Sgt. Rob Hatchell and Officer Michael Fleming in the incident, said a press release from the Polk County District Attorney’s Office. The finding was unanimous.

According to the DA’s report, the grand jury found that Hatchell and Fleming’s use of deadly force was 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.

On Dec. 16 at 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 officers Aaron Mollahan, Fleming and Hatchell were dispatched to investigate the call.

They contacted the driver of the pickup, identified as Jeremiah Nels Anderson, 36. 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’ 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, but he continued to struggle with the 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.

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.

All three officers will remain on paid administrative leave pending an internal Dallas Police Department review of the shooting, said Lt. Jerry Mott.

“This is to determine if policy governing their response with force was followed,” Mott said. “I am hoping to complete the review this week and make a determination and recommendation to Chief (Tom) Simpson based on the available facts.”

Mott said he isn’t sure when Hatchell will be able to return.

“Sgt. Hatchell's injuries were significant,” Mott said. “He was shot in the upper and lower left leg. He is working to recover from his injuries.

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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