DA: Police justified in shooting man who pointed AK-47 at officers
EUGENE, Ore. - As police called to him over a loundspeaker from an armored vehicle, Roger Nielsen came out the front door of his uncle's apartment with an AK-47 pointed at police.
One officer fired, striking Nielsen in the chest.
Nielsen continued walking toward officers with the AK-47.
Another officer exited the armored vehicle and fired his rifle until Nielsen fell to the ground.
Officers then rushed to provide him medical assistance. Medics rushed Nielsen to Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend, where he died from his injuries.
"Mr. Nielsen intended to engage with police that evening with thte intention of being shot and killed," District Attorney Patty Perlow said, referencing witness statements about Nielsen's behavior. "That was the choice that he made prior to exiting the apartment of his uncle."
Perlow said officers were justified in using deadly force.
Under Oregon law, an interagency Deadly Force Investigation Team probes every use of deadly force by police and forwards the findings to the DA for review.
Investigators said the situation started when Nielsen showed up at a woman's apartment armed with the AK-47 rifle and demanded to be let in.
"Over the next couple hours, Mr. Nielsen remained inside the woman's apartment and repeatedly threatened her, pointing the gun at her as well as her infant child and threatened to kill them," Det. George Crolly said.
A male friend of the woman who arrived at the apartment was robbed at gunpoint, investigators said.
The woman and her friend managed to push Nielsen out the door, lock the door, and hide in the bathroom, Crolly said. They called 911 around 3:37 a.m.
Police had prior contact with Nielsen, and Nielsen's father had called to report a pickup and an AK-47 with a 20-round magazine had been stolen.
Eugene Police secured the perimeter and approached the scene in an armored rescue vehicle called a "Bearcat" after attempting to reach Nielsen by phone, investigators said.
They called out over a loudspeaker to Nielsen to come out with his hands up.
Instead, he approached them with the AK-47, investigators said.
"It's hard to imagine an urban response that could be more dangerous than this one," Eugene Police Chief Pete Kerns said, noting the darkness combined with the close proximity of innocent people in their homes.
"I have to thank the police officers who were willing, knowing what the circumstances were, to go into that situation," DA Perlow said. "There were a number of Eugene Police officers who were in exposed positions outside the Bearcat, there was a perimeter secured around the area in darkness, knowing that this person was armed with an assault rifle."
"Mr. Nielsen was still alive after being shot," Perlow added. "They rendered aid that was compassionate and supportive and got the emergency medical technicians in there immediately to try and save him. It was just an incredible, professional response by the Eugene Police Department."
DEVELOPING STORY | This story will be updated. Watch #LiveOnKMTR for updates