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Family files lawsuit for excessive force, wrongful death

The lawsuit names Washington County and the cities of Tualatin and Sherwood as defendants

TUALATIN - More than a year after 20-year-old Jordan Case died from a gunshot wound to the head, his family has filed a federal lawsuit against the law enforcement members and their agencies involved in the shooting. The suit also names as a defendant the Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency which provides communications in the county between public safety agencies.

On Oct. 22, 2006, Jordan Case, of Tualatin, was shot and killed in a business complex parking lot near the Woodridge apartment complex on Tualatin Road.

An investigation by the district attorney's office cleared Tualatin officer John Jayne, Sherwood officer Adam Keesee and Washington County deputy Glenn Howard in the shooting. The investigation also noted that Case was under the influence of the hallucinogen psilocybin at the time he entered Sally Arellano's apartment. It was Arellano's call of an unknown intruder which set off a course of events that ended with Case reportedly trying to open the door to a Washington County Sheriff's deputy vehicle where a loaded MP-5 assault rifle was secured between the front seats.

Steven Sherlag is the Portland attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Case's father and stepmother, Laird and Debbie Case, and mother Jill Griffith. Sherlag called the circumstances around Case's death completely tragic and avoidable.

While the lawsuit, which names the cities of Sherwood and Tualatin and Washington County, mentions only action for monetary damages, Sherlag said the family is interested in a change in policy.

'That's the primary concern,' Sherlag said. 'We want better training in the use of force. Officers should be trained to use their heads and their hands rather than Tasers and beanbags.'

Jayne was originally called to the apartment complex before midnight on Oct. 21 in response to a 9-1-1 call. Upon entering the apartment, Jayne found Arellano had Case pinned to the floor.

According to transcripts from the 9-1-1 call, Arellano had told dispatchers that she awoke to find a strange man in her apartment. She told the dispatcher that the man appeared scared and said he was on mushrooms. Later in the call, Arellano took her daughter and tried to hold a bedroom door closed as she told dispatchers that the intruder was trying to get into the room.

Jayne used a Taser several times on Case while in the apartment, but was never able to handcuff the man. Case was later shot multiple times by a less-lethal shotgun loaded with beanbags fired by Keesee while in a parking lot across the street from the apartment complex. Howard arrived on the scene at the parking lot and also discharged his Taser while giving commands to Case to get on the ground. But after Case again got up and this time tried to gain access to Howard's patrol vehicle, Howard drew his firearm and fired several rounds at Case. Case sat down next to the car, but then tried again to enter the vehicle. Howard fired again striking Case in the head, according to police reports.

The DA's investigation into the shooting noted that Case's altered mental state 'undoubtedly led to his combativeness with officer Jayne.'

And the lawsuit filed by Case's family admits that Case experimented with ingesting hallucinogenic mushrooms on the night of Oct. 21, 2006. But the lawsuit also contends that at no time did officers try to communicate with Case in 'any way other than shouting threats and commands to get on the ground' nor did officers 'request the presence of an officer trained in handling situations involving emotionally disturbed people.'

The Case shooting happened about a month after Washington County Sheriff's deputies shot and killed 18-year-old Lukus Glenn outside his Metzger home. The Glenn family announced last year that they too intended to file a lawsuit against the county and the city of Tigard.