WEST SALEM — Dallas detective Darren Buchholz tackled and tried to restrain Scott Spangler before fatally shooting him during an attempted drug arrest at the West Salem Goodwill in September, according to reports released by the Salem Police Department.
On Oct. 3, a Polk County grand jury decided no prosecution was warranted in the shooting. The Sept. 18 incident was investigated by Salem police.
Spangler, 43, of Dallas was the subject of a Polk County Interagency Narcotics Team operation, and was planning to meet Buchholz to sell him $200 worth of heroin the day of the shooting.
The officers on the team were in “raid gear” and planning to arrest Spangler in his car. But the team’s plans changed when Spangler showed up with two other people. Spangler and a female passenger in the car, a PT Cruiser, got out of the vehicle and walked toward Carl’s Jr. across the parking lot from the Goodwill. The driver got out of the vehicle and walked past the detectives waiting in a minivan. He headed toward Wallace Road and disappeared from sight.
“The POINT team members in the van believed (the driver) saw that they were police, as they were in raid gear and (the driver) knew some of them from previous contacts,” the incident summary read.
The nvestigation revealed what the team didn’t know at the time — that Spangler was conducting another heroin sale in the Carl’s Jr, and that the driver tipped him off that police officers were on scene.
“(The driver) had entered into the Carl’s Jr., given Spangler the keys to the vehicle that he had arrived in, and told him that there were police in the lot,” the report read. “(The driver) left in an unknown direction from the Carl’s Jr.”
The report said the team still planned to arrest Spangler when he got back into the car, but he and the female passenger walked past the car and toward the Goodwill.
“The decision was made to confront them prior to them going into the Goodwill store,” the report read.
Buchholz and others on the team exited the minivan when Spangler and the woman reached the foyer of the store. Buchholz drew his weapon and called out to Spangler by name. Spangler ran into the store.
Buchholz said he holstered his weapon and pursued Spangler into the store.
Buchholz said he told Spangler to get on the ground, but he kept running into the store. The detective caught Spangler and pulled him down by the hood of his coat. Spangler landed on his back and Buchholz tried to restrain his left arm.
“I want to secure the closest hand I could,” Buchholz said. “I went for his left arm, and at the time, I could see his jacket come up and a pistol come out on the right side of his body in his right hand. At that time, I yelled, ‘He’s got a gun.’ I directed both my hands to that arm and tried to pin that arm to the ground.”
Buchholz said he believed at the time he grabbed the wrist of Spangler’s arm, but said in the interview he must have been holding him closer to the elbow.
“The gun just kept coming up and it was just I could see it moving towards me and I heard him say ‘I don’t have a gun,’” Buchholz told investigators.
He said he believed Spangler was trying to get him to let go of that arm. According the report, Spangler had a Jennings model 38 pistol.
“At that point, I fully believe he was gonna try and kill me,” Buchholz said.
The detective drew his pistol.
“It was my intent to put it in his face, so he could see it, um, and at the time, the gun was still coming up. I could see it coming, and I believed he was gonna kill me and I fired one shot,” Buchholz said.
Medics declared Spangler dead at the scene.
An autopsy report said the bullet entered Spangler’s left cheek and the bullet was recovered from his skull cavity.
According to the reports, Spangler had “sizeable quantity” and a smaller amount in foil in his pockets at the time of the shooting. He also had an additional magazine for his pistol and $395 in cash.
The documents included interviews with other officers on the scene, witness interviews, evidence logs, an autopsy report and next of kin notification.
Spangler’s mother told the officer who gave her official notification that she believed her son had become addicted to heroin after taking pain medication for an injury.
“She told me when Scott no longer needed the medication, the doctor did not slowly decrease the medication, but just had Scott stop using it immediately,” the report read. “She said initially he was getting more medication from a source on the street. She said this later turned into heroin use and addiction.”