The Crook County Grand Jury ruled that the man who shot and killed Kade Nichol at a Prineville apartment complex in January acted in self-defense.
Darrien Ruiz shot 27-year-old Nichol after a physical fight at the Wild Horse Mesa Apartments on January 8.
According to the Crook County District Attorney’s Office, their investigation showed that Nichol drove to Ruiz’s apartment, where Ruiz lived with his girlfriend and 8-year-old child, and entered unlawfully.
“The Crook County Grand Jury determined that Ruiz was acting in self-defense and therefore justified in using deadly physical force upon Nichol to defend against Nichol’s unlawful entry into his residence and use of physical force against Ruiz,” the Crook County DA’s Office said in a statement posted on Facebook.
RELATED: ‘It was horrible’: 1 man dead, 1 detained in Prineville shooting
The following statement was posted on the Crook County District Attorney’s Office on Monday. Below that is the response to Central Oregon Daily News by Nichol’s family.
Date: February 27, 2023
FROM: Crook County District Attorney’s Office
RE: January 8, 2023 Shooting at Wild Horse Mesa Apartments
The Crook County Grand Jury has determined that Darrien Ruiz acted in self-defense in the January 8, 2023 fatal shooting of Kade Nichol, which occurred inside Ruiz’s apartment at the Wild Horse Mesa Apartments in Prineville. The investigation determined Nichol drove to Ruiz’s residence where he unlawfully entered Ruiz’s apartment, which was occupied by Ruiz, as well as his 8-year-old child and girlfriend. The two men engaged in a physical altercation inside the residence prior to Ruiz discharging his firearm one time. Nichol sustained fatal injuries.
FACTS AND INVESTIGATION
The following is a summary of relevant portions of the investigation submitted to the District Attorney.
On January 8, 2023, at approximately 4:35 pm, officers from Prineville Police Department and Crook County Sheriff’s Office responded to a shooting at the Wild Horse Mesa Apartments in Prineville. Upon arrival, officers located 27-year-old Kade Nichol with a single gunshot wound lying in the stairwell outside Ruiz’s apartment. Several concerned citizens were attempting to render aid. Despite efforts of law enforcement and emergency medical personnel, Nichol was pronounced deceased at the scene. Nichol died as a result of a single gunshot wound.
The shooting was investigated by the Central Oregon Major Incident Team, led by the Prineville Police Department, and was overseen by the Crook County District Attorney. The Prineville Police Department and Crook County Sheriff’s Office quickly and safely secured the scene by detaining the shooter, 29-year-old Darrien Ruiz. Ruiz was cooperative and was transported to the Prineville Police Department for further questioning.
Detectives from numerous agencies canvassed the area to interview eyewitnesses and gather evidence. The Oregon State Police Forensic Services Division responded to examine and collect forensic evidence. The Deschutes County Digital Forensics Division assisted by completing forensic analysis of cell phones belonging to the involved parties.
The investigation determined that the individuals involved knew each other. Nichol and Ruiz had known each other since high school and were close friends until October 2022, when their friendship ended. The two men had a falling out related to Ruiz’s relationship with Nichol’s wife.
Prior to January 8, 2023, the two men last communicated with each other via text on October 11, 2022, when two men exchanged the following text messages:
• Nichol: “Karma will get you dirtbag I’ll see you when I piss on your grave”
• Ruiz: “Stop”
• Nichol: “Stay the [***] away from me and my family I will kill bro I’m not playing.”
• Ruiz: “I already told you if you wanna fight it is what it is. Don’t threaten me.”
• Nichol: “Nah I’m cool”
• Ruiz: [OK emoji symbol]
• Nichol: “Have a good life judas”
• Ruiz: “Bro I’m not intimidated by that shit. You want smoke come get it”
• Nichol: “Life”
Following the end of their friendship in October 2022, the two men next exchanged messages on January 8, 2023, shortly before Nichol drove to Ruiz’s residence. Multiple witnesses reported Nichol was distraught over the death of a close friend who had died on January 6, 2023, from injuries sustained in a car crash. On January 8, 2023, Nichol made multiple statements to people that he intended to fight Ruiz if he attended their mutual friend’s funeral.
On January 8, 2023, at approximately 4:18 PM, Nichol was at his residence with his three children and a friend. Nichol had been drinking and began texting Ruiz. The two men exchanged the following texts:
• Nichol @ 4:18 pm: “I hope you know imma run up on you if I see you at ryans service you punk ass bitch”
• Ruiz @ 4:21 pm: “no your not shut up”
• Nichol @ 4:21 pm: “Bet”
• Ruiz @ 4:21 pm: “Then your gonna get beat up in front of everyone”
• Ruiz @ 4:23 pm: “I’m at my house. I’ll meet you outside rn”
• Nichol @ 4:23 pm: “Lets good”
• Nichol @ 4:23 pm: “Let get it”
• Ruiz @ 4:23 pm: “Just leaving me alone would be your best bet buddy”
• Ruiz @ 4:24 pm: “Why you even text me anyway”
• Nichol @ 4:25 pm: “Come outside”
Nichol, who appeared intoxicated, had been at his residence with his children and friend, showed his friend the text messages and made a statement about intending to fight Ruiz. Nichol asked his friend, “Do you have my kids?” and left his house intending to confront Ruiz. Nichol’s friend called Nichol repeatedly trying to stop Nichol, telling him, “I don’t know what you’re planning on doing. Be smart, you got [***] kids at home.”
Moments later, witnesses observed Nichol get out of his vehicle, which he’d parked at the Wild Horse Mesa Apartments. Nichol left his keys and wallet behind in his unlocked vehicle. Nichol called Ruiz attempting to entice Ruiz down to the parking lot to fight. When Ruiz would not leave his apartment, Nichol was heard saying “You’re not gonna come out? Then I’ll come up there.” Witnesses reported seeing Nichol run up the stairs toward Ruiz’s apartment shortly before hearing a gunshot.
The shooting was reported to 911 dispatch at approximately 4:35 pm. The evidence corroborates witness statements that when Ruiz opened his door, Nichol punched Ruiz and pushed Ruiz back into his apartment approximately 12 to 15 feet. Ruiz’s 8-year-old daughter was playing in the kitchen, just a few feet away from the altercation and Ruiz’s girlfriend was also inside the residence. Nichol pushed Ruiz backward into a door in the hallway, at which time Ruiz discharged his firearm, striking Nichol one time. Nichol immediately left the apartment where he collapsed and died in the stairwell.
Immediately following the shooting, Ruiz locked his apartment door and asked his girlfriend to call 911 dispatch. Upon law enforcement’s arrival, Ruiz was cooperative and was transported to the Prineville Police Department for further questioning.
Under Oregon law, a person can be justified in using deadly physical force if another person is committing or attempting to commit a burglary in their dwelling or if another person is committing or attempting to commit a felony involving the use or threatened imminent use of physical force. The laws relating to self-defense inside a person’s residence, commonly referred to as the Castle Doctrine, are different than the self-defense provisions which apply to deadly physical force used outside of a residence. Under Oregon law, a person has an absolute right to feel safe and secure in their own home.
In this instance, the Crook County Grand Jury determined that Ruiz was acting in self-defense and therefore justified in using deadly physical force upon Nichol to defend against Nichol’s unlawful entry into his residence and use of physical force against Ruiz.
The Crook County District Attorney’s Office would like to remind the public the purpose of our local law enforcement is to preserve the peace and ensure public safety for all. Our dedicated law enforcement officers are well trained in de-escalation tactics and have the ability to diffuse difficult situations in a safe manner. When possible, please make every effort to call the police and request assistance before taking matters into your own hands. A quick phone call and response by an officer can quickly resolve a situation before matters escalate out of control.
The Crook County District Attorney’s Office would also like to send our condolences to the Nichol family. Kade Nichol was a loved son, brother, father, husband, and friend to many and he will be greatly missed. Nichol’s family has been very understanding as we have worked through the lengthy investigative and legal process.
Contributing agencies to this investigation include the Prineville Police Department, Crook County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Warm Springs Police Department, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Bend Police Department, Oregon State Police, Redmond Police Department, County Medical Examiner, Oregon State Police Forensic Laboratory, Oregon State Medical Examiner, the FBI, and Crook County Fire and Rescue.
Statement from Kade Nichol’s family following the grand jury decision:
“The Nichol family is OUTRAGED that there are no charges being filed. Darrien did not shoot Kade out of fear! He shot him because he wanted to win! Kade did not “break-in”, Darrien told Kade to come to his residence and Darrien willingly opened the door for him to enter! Darrien had his gun ready on his side and murdered Kade. He invited a physical altercation, knowingly and intentionally escalated the situation to what it was- Kade’s death and in our view.. MURDER! Our fight for Kade is not over! We will be pursuing other legal action against Darrien Ruiz and we will not stop giving Kade a voice for the rest of ours!”
We spoke with the Nichol family earlier this month, prior to the grand jury decision, about their desire for justice in Kade’s death.