Deschutes County DA clears deputy in shooting of suspected car thief

The District Attorney cleared a Deschutes County Sheriff’s Deputy of wrongdoing, in a shooting, last month. DA John Hummel called the Black Friday shooting involving Deputy Clint Baltzor “justified,” saying at a press conference today, “I will not initiate criminal charges against him.”

The incident started with a report from the Shepherd’s House, that a man was causing problems. He then allegedly stole a car from the shelter. “When Deputy Baltzor reached the intersection of Highway 20 and Empire Avenue at 6:04 p.m., he spotted the stolen car heading northbound on Highway 20.”

He and another deputy tried to pull the car over, but the driver didn’t stop. Hummel says the suspect, later identified as 29-year-old Adam Gilliam, eventually pulled over, but took off again, when deputies tried to approach.

Baltzor then received permission to use a PIT maneuver to stop the car, “Deputy Baltzor requested approval for a PIT maneuver because of the heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic in the mall due to it being Black Friday, which was especially dangerous due to the snow and ice on the ground.”

Hummel says after trapping the car in the parking lot of Cascade Village Shopping Center, deputies approached with guns drawn, ordering Gilliam’s hands up. But, he drove forward, toward other deputies and, Hummel says, Baltzor believed the suspect’s actions put those deputies and members of the public in danger. “Deputy Baltzor was able to move to the passenger side of Gilliam’s car as it drove forward and then fired five rounds through the car windows at Gilliam, striking him three times.”

One round went through Gilliam’s neck, one went into his right shoulder, and the third likely grazed his head. “There were approximately 25 seconds between the PIT maneuver being completed and a radio call of ‘shots fired.'”

Gilliam reportedly drove another 100 feet before getting out of his car and receiving medical attention. He spent 10 days in the hospital before being jailed December ninth on multiple charges; he’s due in court January 8. According to Hummel, Gilliam has had previous contact with law enforcement and was known to have mental health issues. However, it’s unclear whether deputies responding to the call November 29 knew who they were dealing with.

“Adam Gilliam’s decision to attempt to escape from sheriff’s deputies who took him into custody constituted a crime,” Hummel says, “However, the mere fact of committing a crime should never, standing alone, result in a person being shot by law enforcement.  Mr. Gilliam’s decision to drive a car in a dangerous manner toward Deputy Baltzor and other deputies is what resulted in shots being fired.  Fortunately for all involved, Deputy Baltzor and the other involved deputies were unharmed, and Adam Gilliam, while shot, survived and is recovering.”

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