EUGENE, Ore. -- The Eugene police officer who fired at a suspect driving away in a police vehicle was justified in doing so, Lane County District Attorney Patty Perlow said.
Perlow said Officer Lucas Blackwell shot at Eli Perini who had gotten into another officer’s vehicle on the morning of March 13. Perlow said Blackwell had reason to fear for his life and the community's safety.
In the early morning hours that Wednesday, Blackwell reported seeing two men on bikes with masks in the West University/Downtown area and Officer Tyler Tremein then made contact with Perini and Scott Saddler near E. 15th Avenue and Pearl Street for a suspected pedestrian violation.
According to Perlow’s report, Perini was uncooperative and combative, and when Saddler ran off, Tremein chased after him.
Blackwell arrived to assist and came across Perini who threw his coat on the ground in front of his patrol vehicle. Blackwell stopped his car and reached Tremain’s vehicle just as Perini had jumped in.
Perlow said Blackwell threatened to shoot if Perini didn’t stop and shot six rounds into the patrol vehicle as it sped away. The report further indicates that Blackwell was concerned that Perini was going to hit him with the vehicle.
Perini took off, eventually heading the wrong way down High Street with the vehicle’s emergency lights activated. He stopped the car just south of 15th Avenue and ran from the scene.
Police captured Perini near 16th Avenue and High Street with the help of a police dog.
Perini later admitted to having used methamphetamine the night before the incident and said he “panicked.”
Perlow said additional factors in her decision were the equipment in Tremein’s vehicle at the time--which included a gun--and Perini’s dangerous driving. She said she reviewed in-car video as well as other reports and evidence in the case.
Perlow said Blackwell’s body camera did not activate.