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District attorney: Deputy justified in shooting death of Aloha man

Review of Jan. 2 incident concludes Deputy Ken Coon has reason to believe Lewis Lembke posed an immediate threat


The Washington County District Attorney’s Office has determined that a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy was justified in the Jan. 2 shooting death of an Aloha man.

A “thorough and impartial investigation” found that Deputy Ken Coon was justified in using deadly force when he shot 47-year-old Lewis Lembke to death after a domestic incident involving Lembke's wife spun out of control in the early morning hours.

Lembke, 47, was armed with a loaded 9mm pistol and walked toward deputies, ignoring their commands to put the gun down, before pointing it directly at Coon. One of Coon’s bullets struck Lembke’s handgun at an angle that proved the gun was aimed at the deputy, the investigation found.

Lembke's wife, Harriet, requested no media contact, according to Sheriff's Sgt. Bob Ray.

The following is the text of the letter Senior Deputy District Attorney Bracken McKey sent to Sheriff Pat Garrett this week:

Dear Sheriff Garrett:

Tigard Detective Kevin Dresser and Tualatin Detective Jill Chapman, both members of Washington County' s Major Crimes Team, completed a thorough and impartial investigation into the January 2, 2015 shooting death of Lewis Lembke.

ln summary, their investigation revealed the following:

At 1:12 a.m. on January 2, 2015, Harriet Lembke called 911 and requested medical assistance for her 47-year-old husband, Lewis Lembke, who was intoxicated, vomiting, and unresponsive. Medical personnel from Metro West and Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue responded to Lembke's apartment, located at 4519 SW Masters Loop in Aloha. They were accompanied by Washington County Sheriff Deputies Ken Coon, Zackery Vance, and Reserve Deputy Michael Trotter. Medical personnel wished to transport Mr. Lembke to a hospital for further care, but Mr. Lembke, now conscious, refused (a later forensic laboratory analysis of blood drawn at the time of autopsy reveals Mr. Lembke had a blood alcohol level of .163%). During his interaction with medical personnel, Mr. Lembke was belligerent, confrontational, and continued to refuse further medical care. Medical personnel and deputies left the Lembke residence at approximately 2:15 a.m. after concluding that Mr. Lembke did not meet the criteria for a Police Officer Hold.

Five minutes later, at 2:20 a.m., Harriet Lembke placed a second call to 911, this time requesting police assistance. She reported that her husband had choked her and thrown her down. Deputies Coon and Vance, along with Reserve Deputy Trotter approached the front door at 2:26 a.m. At 2.27 a.m., deputies reported "shots fired."

Harriet Lembke later explained that Lewis Lembke became angry and violent following medical personnel and law enforcement's initial visit. He threatened to kill Harriet Lembke if she called the police again. Then Mr. Lembke repeated the threat, grabbed Harriet Lembke around the neck, and pushed her into a CD stand.

Harriet Lembke locked herself in the master bathroom and called 911. She remained on the phone with dispatch until the 911 operator informed her that the police were at the front door. As Mrs. Lembke walked down the hall to open the front door, she passed Mr. Lembke who stated, "l'm going to kill you."

Deputies entered the apartment and unsuccessfully attempted to speak with Mr. Lembke. Mr. Lembke armed himself with a loaded 9mm Smith and Wesson semiautomatic pistol and walked towards the deputies, ignoring repeated commands to drop the gun. Mr. Lembke raised the pistol and pointed it directly at Deputy Coon, at which point Deputy Coon fired his 9mm Glock pistol four times, killing Mr. Lembke.

Matt Eggert, with the Oregon State Police Forensic Laboratory, recovered Mr. Lembke's handgun, Mr. Eggert noted that "the area below the weapon's muzzle contained damage from an apparent bullet strike," and a bullet jacket fragment was embedded in the pistol's frame. The trajectory of this bullet leads to the conclusion that one of Deputy Coon's rounds struck Mr. Lembke's 9mm pistol as Mr. Lembke pointed the pistol directly at Deputy Coon. Mr. Eggert also recovered two loaded magazines from Mr. Lembke's belt clip.

ORS 161.219 outlines the circumstances under which deadly physical force may be used in defense of a person. Based upon my review of this investigation, I conclude that Deputy Coon acted under the reasonable belief that Mr. Lembke was "using or about to use unlawful deadly physical force" against Deputy Coon and the other deputies. Deputy Coon was justified in responding with deadly force against the threat posed by Mr. Lembke.

This letter concludes my review of this matter, and all reports will be available to the public and media under Oregon Public Records laws.

Sincerely,

Bracken McKey

Senior Deputy District Attorney

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