Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

Man who rushed cops with knife sentenced to prison

A man who was shot by police officers and sheriff’s deputies in 2013 after an altercation was sentenced to 16 months in prison and five years probation last month.

Rogelio Rodriguez Martinez, 61, was convicted on Nov. 12 of menacing, unlawful use of a weapon and reckless endangerment of another person.

Martinez was arrested in July 2013 after police spotted him carrying a large knife near the Best Western Oak Meadows Inn in St. Helens.

According to Columbia County District Attorney Steve Atchison, who prosecuted the case, Martinez’s wife called police to warn them her husband had left with a knife. Martinez was reportedly intoxicated at the time.

According to previous reports and testimony in court, St. Helens police Officer Stephanie LaValle and Sgt. Rick Graham, along with Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Deputies Bill Hass and Reserve Deputy Tyler Miller, found Martinez and tried to stop and talk to him, to no avail, Atchison explained.

“It was during the county fair weekend,” Atchison said. “They were looking for him and they found him, but he had the knife and he wouldn’t drop it. The police were worried that here’s this guy with a knife who’s not paying attention to us.”

Atchison said Martinez turned toward them with his knife drawn, so they fired at him. One shot missed Martinez, but he was shot at again and injured. Martinez was transported for medical care after the incident and remains in custody.

Prior to using guns, deputies and officers attempted to subdue Martinez, Atchison said.

“They tried to Tase him. The Tasers had no effect. He was wearing a big coat,” he noted. “All the officers used Tasers at one point or another, sometimes two at a time. They tried to use everything short of having to use lethal force on him.”

In addition to probation and prison time, Martinez was ordered by Columbia County Circuit Judge Jean Martwick to undergo a mental health evaluation and a chemical dependency and/or anger management evaluation.

Martinez was acquitted of attempted murder charges.

“Attempted murder is one of the most difficult crimes to prove,” Atchison said. “What the jury said was, ‘Well, we don’t think he tried to kill anybody, but we do feel he attempted to hurt somebody.’”

After the incident, both St. Helens Police Chief Terry Moss and Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson said the force used on Martinez was justified, considering the threats to deputy and officer safety.