The City of Tigard has agreed to a $3.8 million settlement over the fatal shooting of Jacob Macduff. Attorneys for the Macduff family released the following information:
Maria Macduff announced her family has reached a settlement of $3.8 million with the City of Tigard over the shooting death of her 26-year-old son, Jacob Macduff, by Tigard Police on the evening of January 6, 2021. Macduff blamed the Tigard Police Department for use of unnecessary deadly force in the death of her son.
“We now know what I believed all along — there is no way my son Jacob should have been shot and killed that night,” Maria Macduff said in a statement. “My deepest desire since this happened has been to do everything possible to make sure no other family loses a child the way I have. I believe we’ve accomplished that.” As part of the settlement, the City of Tigard has made and has agreed to continue to make changes in police policy and training to prevent another unnecessary death of a person in mental health crisis.
Macduff’s attorney, Scott Levin, said he and co-counsel David Park were able to reach a settlement with the city only after gaining access to the Washington County District Attorney’s investigation of the shooting and the medical examiner’s report. Levin brought Park into the case because of Park’s expertise and success in litigating police shooting cases.
Said Levin, “From a thorough examination of these records, we learned Jacob Macduff was shot and killed within an eight second sequence initiated by the police in an unnecessary plan to forcibly remove Jacob Macduff from the cab of his pickup.”
Park told reporters this eight second sequence can be followed through the audio and video recorded by the police dash cam video, even though the actual events cannot be seen. He and Levin used accurately scaled computer aided images to recreate the events for purposes of negotiating the settlement.
Using those images and police photos, Park described for reporters what happened:
- At 4:09 pm, police arrived at Macduff’s apartment in response to a domestic disturbance call. Because of three previous calls to the apartment, they knew Macduff suffered mental health issues.
- Although police determined no one had been harmed, they charged Macduff with domestic harassment, a charge that required them to arrest him.
- Police located Macduff locked inside the cab of his pickup. He wouldn’t come out.
- For an hour and 14 minutes, six police officers moved freely about Macduff’s pickup without guns drawn, frequently turning their backs to Macduff. They seemingly did not consider him a safety threat.
- Sometime after 5 pm, for no apparent reason and without summoning or consulting with officers trained in crisis de-escalation, the police on site developed a plan to remove Macduff from his pickup with the use of force.
- The plan was to use a window punch to break the driver’s door window, then reach in, unlock the door, pull Macduff from the truck and place him under arrest.
- At 5:48:12 pm, one officer gave the other officers the “go” signal. At 5:48:14, without warning, an officer positioned a few feet from the front of the pickup shot bean bag rounds into the truck windshield. By 5:48:20, Officer Gabriel Maldonado had shot Macduff four times and killed him. (Five shots are heard on the recording, but one shot missed. Later in the video, three more shots can be heard, but evidence showed the fatal shots had already been fired.)
Park said there is zero evidence Macduff was ever armed or posed a threat to the police officers. He also pointed to a police photo that shows Jacob Macduff’s truck was blocked in and there was no risk of him going anywhere.
As a consequence of Macduff’s death and the settlement, Tigard Police are making substantive changes in how they deal with persons in mental health crisis. The agreement lists fourteen changes that include de-escalation training and the formation of a Washington County mental health response team.
The settlement also provides that the City of Tigard will cooperate in an independent critical incident review and analysis of the police actions that resulted in Macduff’s death and the post-incident steps taken by the City of Tigard in the wake of the death. The report of that independent review will be made public upon its completion.
In a sympathy card received by Maria Macduff on December 7, 2021, Tigard Police Chief Kathy McAlpine acknowledged the City of Tigard failed to protect and serve Jacob Macduff.
Maria Macduff described her son as a kind, gentle soul who was witty and well-liked. She related how, during the Oregon wildfires, Jacob drove food donations in his truck to campsites where survivors were gathered. She said she will remember him for his beautiful smile and twinkling blue eyes.
Levin said that, while the City of Tigard formally denies liability and fault in the settlement agreement, the amount and terms of the agreement demonstrate the actions of the Tigard officers were not defensible.
The City of Tigard released the following statement:
“First and foremost, to the Macduff family, I want to personally acknowledge that your son’s life was lost. I am also a mother and can’t begin to imagine what you have endured and continue to endure,” said Police Chief Kathy McAlpine. “I also recognize that in the thorough review of this case, from the Washington County District Attorney’s Office to the Oregon Attorney General’s Office and a grand jury convened at its request, that no evidence of criminal wrongdoing was ever found. That said, I want the community to know that this police department is committed to learning and growing from our experiences. We did our own thorough review of this case, and have made several updates to policies, procedures and training as a result.”
Those updates include, but are not limited to:
- Implementing department-wide body worn cameras,
- Beginning a drone program, which can provide an aerial view of a person in a car that does not require officers in close proximity,
- Transitioned from beanbag shotguns to 40mm foam projectiles as a less lethal option,
- Added specific and clear language to the Use of Force policy regarding de-escalation and verbal warnings,
- Trainings for officers on a variety of topics including scenario-based de-escalation, barricaded subjects in cars, police legitimacy and procedural justice, as well as use of drones,
- Tigard PD joined with Sherwood, Tualatin, and King City to create and fund the South Cities Mental Health Response Team to reduce delay in MHRT trained officers and clinicians available for response and follow up,
- Training on the principles of time, distance, communication and cover as it relates to de-escalation,
- Collaboration with the Public Safety Advisory Board to get community input on policing in Tigard.
These updates were the result of several factors, including the death of Mr. Macduff as well as national calls for police reform, legislative changes at the state level and evolving community expectations for police response.
Chief McAlpine has shared these updates with the Macduff family through their attorney, and the settlement costs will be paid by the City of Tigard’s insurance company, which also makes the decision whether to settle and determines the settlement figure.