EUGENE, Ore. -- Eugene’s police chief and the attorney representing Muhsin Sharif are speaking out after Lane County’s district attorney ruled the officer-involved shooting lawful.
Sharif was shot twice by two officers on Nov. 30 after police responded to reports of domestic violence. Police say when restraining orders are violated, an arrest must be made.
DA Patty Perlow’s report said that officers found Sharif running nearby with a knife repeatedly yelling, “I will kill you,” before they fired.
Chief Chris Skinner told KEZI 9 News they will review all aspects leading up to, during and after the shooting to identify possible ways to do better in the future.
However, Skinner said the officers involved in the shooting handled the situation appropriately based on the way it developed. He said the officers were put in a significant life or death situation and they had to react quickly.
Brian Michaels, the attorney representing Sharif, said while he understands how the officers’ response was justified, he has lingering concerns about the shooting and how the investigation was handled.
“I think what is often lost is some of the decisions that this community asks our law enforcement professionals to make, often times in milliseconds, without a complete picture of what's going on is lost and I think this is a great example of that,” he said.
Skinner responded, saying, “We recognize that every time our handgun comes out of a holster and we're justified in the use of force that it can be life changing for people and it's life changing for the officers involved. That'll never be anything that will be a part of this department's philosophical discussion and or culture will be around that and I think that's inflammatory and I think that's an unfair characteristic of this organization.”
Michaels said the video was not released to him and said some of the wording in Perlow’s report was used to discredit Sharif, including saying he was shot in the left shoulder. Michaels claims he was shot in the right shoulder, which is what made him unable to drop the knife when officers demanded he do so.
However, Perlow responded saying the information on Sharif's wounds was provided to law enforcement from hospital staff and whether it was the left or right shoulder does not have an impact on her ruling.
Michaels shared his concerns that the state is trying to contaminate the community’s idea of what happened and affect the future jury pool.
He also said that police yelling at Sharif to drop the knife was not a sufficient disarming tactic and said officers across the country are shooting first and then asking questions.
"There is obviously no push back. There is no accountability for killing somebody or using fatal force,” Michaels said.
Michaels claimed Lane’s Interagency Deadly Force Investigation Team works to protect shooters and chastise victims, citing Perlow’s report following the shooting of Eliborio Rodrigues which found the officer's use of deadly force lawful.
With eight shots having been fired at Sharif, Michaels said the officers’ actions indicate an intent to kill. He said they could have used a Taser instead, and added that wearing body armor would have made it unlikely someone armed with a knife could kill them.