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Grand jury rules deadly force in Aurora Flying J standoff as justified

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 7:49 PM PDT
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MARION COUNTY Ore. (KPTV) – A Marion County Grand Jury has agreed unanimously the use of deadly force during a standoff in Aurora was lawful and justified.

The April 25 standoff resulted in the death of Micaiah Clinton, 27, of Portland, a suspect wanted for possession of a firearm and attempting to elude police. The incident began when Clinton was spotted outside the Flying J truck stop at 12334 Ehlen Road Northeast.

After being noticed, Clinton barricaded inside a vehicle and SWAT responded to the scene.

After attempts to persuade Clinton to surrender failed, Oregon State Police shot gas munitions into the van. Clinton came out of the vehicle around 10:50 a.m. wearing a gas mask, body armor and a badge proclaiming to be a “Sovereign Citizen,” according to the Marion County District Attorney’s Office. Clinton was also armed with a 223 assault rifle, loaded with armor piercing ammunition.

Without warning, the D.A.’s office said Clinton shot Woodburn Police Officer Jesse Ponce, a member of the Marion County Interagency SWAT Team, in the left upper thigh. The first shot knocked Ponce to the ground, but Clinton continued firing at him, hitting him in his right lower leg.

Other shots fired by Clinton hit Ponce’s ballistic shield, his pistol on his right hip, and four rounds into a police car directly behind the officer.

A Marion County Deputy Sheriff then came to the defense of Ponce, according to the D.A.’s office. Clinton continued firing, missing the deputy and hitting the SWAT vehicle behind him. The deputy returned fire, striking Clinton once in the head and twice in the chest, killing him.

Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson stated, “This case is an example of the dangerous work our law enforcement officers do every day. There is no doubt that Officer Ponce’s and Deputy Morrow’s heroic actions saved lives, and that Mr. Clinton would have killed Officer Ponce and others had he not been stopped. I am grateful to the grand jury for their time and work on this case. My thoughts and prayers are with Officer Ponce as he recovers from his injuries.”

The D.A.’s Office said Monday that Officer Ponce is expected to fully recover.