The other October 29 police killing

An alert reader has sent me this story about a grand jury exonerating a Salem police officer who killed a man in an apparent shootout. The official version is pretty neat and tidy; the dead man, Rudy Martinez-Cortez, had a gun and shot at the cop first.

Right away I noticed the date of the incident: October 29. That's the same day sheriff's deputies in Vancouver, Washington shot and killed Kevin Peterson Jr., who reportedly also had a gun and didn't shoot first, or at all.

Both men had been accosted by the police and were trying to get away on foot when they were shot dead.

It gets me thinking: Why didn't the cops just let these dudes get away? Both had abandoned their cars and were hoofing it. It wouldn't take long to figure out who the owner of each car was; the suspect might even have been the owner. The police could probably get a warrant and search the vehicle. If a crime was committed, the suspect could be arrested in a safer, more orderly way later.

But then a part of me says, hey, no, that's not how it works. If you run from the cops, they are going to do everything they can to chase you down and bring you in, right then and there. Unfortunately, for certain fleeing suspects, that means dead or alive.

In Martinez-Cortez's case, it's not clear what the policeman might have thought he was up to. He was speeding in a spray-painted '90s Civic with no front license plate. It sounds like that was why he was being pulled over. He tried to drive away, then run away. 

The cop shot 27 times. Seven of those bullets hit. The police later searched the car and allegedly found a pound of meth in it.

Anyway, no charges for the Salem officer, case closed. That may not be true in the 'Couve. We shall see. The prosecuting attorney up that way is a guy named Tony Golik.



  2. I wanted to describe an incident that happened to me back in the day that very easily could have turned into another dead young man shot by the police, but didn't. Way back before Revolution Hall there was a high school there with a running track around a soccer field where I'd do my 2 miles.

    This one day there was only one other person on the track - a young woman and she was right across the field from me. As I came around I noticed what looked like a young Native American teenager. He was by the buildings where you went out to the parking lot. I thought it was a little strange how he turned away from me as I ran by, but I didn't think anything about it.

    So I was back over by the 12th street side of the track when I saw the woman sprinting towards me across the field and she was distraught. Maybe it's my personality but I immediately thought I had done something wrong. Who knows why? She arrived where I was and said that when she had run past the young man he pulled a gun on her and ordered her to come with him. She made the decision to turn and run.

    My voice immediately sounded different. We are social creatures and to be with someone that freaked out immediately put me through massive changes too that would last around 3 days. Plus we were scared. Maybe the gunman was going to follow her and shoot both of us. I didn't see him but I said, "If he's over there, we're going this way." We went over to the wire fence on 12th and without any discussion we began climbing it. It'd say it was around 8-feet tall. We just wanted to get away.

    At this exact moment a squad car just happened to drive down 12th, saw us and wondered what the hell was going on. It was fortuitous to say the least. The cop got on the radio and within minutes of this young man pulling his gun he had several cop cars on his ass. The officer told us to stay right there and not go anywhere, then he was gone too.

    I looked at the woman and she was in bad shape, hyperventilating and struggling to calm down. I'm not sure this was sound advice but I suggested she run a few laps, and she took off like she was in the Olympics.

    About 10 minutes later some squad cars showed up with the kid in the back of one. They parked on Stark and we sat at that entrance area and they got our statements and told us what happened.

    I hadn't said much when the cops, who were very taken by the cute young woman in gym shorts, told me I could go. At this point the woman said, "No, don't go." And then she said to the cops, "This man saved my soul." I know it sounds like bullshit but this is verbatim after all these years.

    The reason the incident made the paper was that when they spotted the young man, 2 squad cars were approaching from different streets and collided. I had also been mentioned in the article: "She ran for assistance to an unidentified jogger." But this is when it got emotional.

    Apparently the kid had been ordered to stop and lie down. One of the officers described having his "hog's leg" out - a term for a pistol I had never heard. The kid turned back towards the officer and raised his gun as if to shoot. This lasted just for a few moments before the kid lied down. The cop kept telling us, "You don't know how close I came to shooting that young man." His entire arm was shaking badly and he was extremely emotional.

    I decided to leave but I asked them if I could look at the young man just in case we met down the road. He was just 16 or so. In 5 minutes he had rung up decades worth of charges including attempted kidnapping and on and on. It was actually quite depressing although I was certainly not in a forgiving mood.

    Epilogue: I was with the banquet waiters getting drunk at the Virginia Cafe one late afternoon and she turned out to be our cocktail waitress. The waiters were impressed.

    What stuck with me about the incident was how scary it was. To see a cop nearly breaking down emotionally was also quite unforgettable.

    1. If you ever start up your blog again, you should change the name from "Portland Freelancer" to "Unidentified Jogger."


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