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Man shot by police pleads not guilty

by: COLUMBIA COUNTY JAIL - Rogelio Rodriguz MartinezThe 60-year-old St. Helens man shot by police in an altercation last month pleaded not guilty on Monday, Aug. 12, to criminal charges against him, including three counts of attempted aggravated murder.

Rogelio Rodriguez “Rocky” Martinez was arraigned for his role in an altercation with police that turned violent in the early morning of Saturday, July 20.

Police say Martinez was carrying a long knife as he walked past the Best Western Oak Meadows Inn in St. Helens, where two St. Helens police officers and two Columbia County deputies intercepted him. According to their account, Martinez tried to attack them with his knife, prompting them to open fire.

The 19 counts of criminal offenses include attempted assault in the first degree, attempted assault of a public safety officer, menacing, reckless endangerment and unlawful use of a weapon, as well as the attempted aggravated murder of three police officers.

Circuit Court Judge Steven Reed set bail for Martinez at $200,000. Among the other conditions for release, Reed ordered Martinez to abstain from alcohol and other intoxicants and participate in an ankle monitoring program.

Lt. Tony Weaver, a Columbia County Jail supervisor, said Wednesday that Martinez is still in jail.

Prior to being arrested, Martinez was recovering from his injuries — which placed him in critical condition for several days — at Legacy Emanuel Health Center in Portland. He was taken into custody over the weekend after an indictment was issued late last week, according to District Attorney Steve Atchison.

Martinez’s attorney declined to comment on the case.

The law enforcement personnel involved in the shooting have been identified as Sgt. Rick Graham and Officer Stephanie LaVallee of the St. Helens Police Department and Deputy Bill Haas and Reserve Deputy Tyler Miller of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. While they were placed on paid administrative leave in the days after the shooting, all have been cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident, St. Helens Police Chief Terry Moss said.

Moss said he believes his officers’ actions were justified, as an attempt to stun Martinez with a Taser was unsuccessful and the officers feared for their lives.

“Certainly in the eyes of Oregon law, in terms of use of force and our policies, their actions were all well within the law and all of our policies,” said Moss on Wednesday. “They had the right to defend themselves and take the actions they did.”

Sheriff Jeff Dickerson agreed, saying of his deputies, “They both fired their weapons ... after being put in fear of their own safety or the safety of others.”