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2013 review: 2 shot by police in county this year

One police-involved shooting in a year in Columbia County is uncommon, although certainly not unheard of. But two police-involved shootings in a year is “unusual,” says District Attorney Steve Atchison, who cannot remember a year when it has happened before. This year, though, it did.

FischerThe life of ex-felon Josiah Max Fischer ended violently when Oregon State Trooper Justin Oxenrider unloaded a series of shots into him after a high-speed chase that ended in Warren on May 3 (“Report: Officer fired nine rounds at St. Helens suspect, killing him,” May 9). Months later, a 60-year-old man named Rogelio Rodriguez Martinez was shot multiple times in a confrontation with St. Helens police and Columbia County deputies outside the Best Western Oak Meadows Inn, leaving him in critical condition (“St. Helens man shot, wounded by officers,” July 26).

Fischer, a St. Helens resident who had been convicted of theft in 2008, attempted to evade police when Oxenrider tried to pull him over for allegedly speeding in a 55-mph zone. After he pulled off the highway onto back roads in the Warren area, he crashed his car into a ditch. After Oxenrider and another trooper surrounded his wrecked vehicle and ordered him to exit with his hands up, police said, Fischer held up a loaded semi-automatic pistol — and Oxenrider shot him to death. After an investigation, Oxenrider was cleared of any wrongdoing in Fischer’s death (“Trooper was justified in shooting man, DA says,” May 29).

MartinezThe Martinez encounter was even stranger, with two city police officers and two deputies from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office responding to reports that Martinez had left his home with a liquor bottle and a long knife. According to police, Martinez raised his knife and charged at the posse, prompting another officer to fire a Taser stun-gun at him; when the stun-gun failed to have any effect, all four shot at him, inflicting serious but non-fatal injuries. Martinez now faces 19 counts of criminal offense, including attempted aggravated murder charges (“Man shot by police pleads not guilty,” Aug. 16).