Tigard officer will not face criminal charges in Macduff shooting

Police evidentiary photos show Jacob Macduff’s pickup truck.
Police evidentiary photos show Jacob Macduff’s pickup truck at the Edgewood Manor apartments in Tigard, where he was shot and killed by a Tigard Police officer on Jan, 6, 2021, after allegedly refusing commands to drop a small knife he was holding. A grand jury last month found that Gabriel Maldonado, the officer who shot Macduff, acted within the law when he took the 26-year-old’s life. Photos/Washington County District Attorney

A grand jury has declined to bring criminal charges against a Tigard Police officer who shot and killed a Tigard man who was reported to be in the midst of a severe mental health crisis.

Jacob Macduff
Jacob Macduff

That decision was announced on Sept. 15, following the adjournment of a grand jury convened by the Oregon Department of Justice. It brought a conclusion to an eight-and-a-half month investigation into the death of Jacob Macduff. Macduff was struck by at least eight rounds fired by Tigard Police Officer Gabriel Maldonado after Maldonado reportedly saw a small knife in Macduff’s hand during a struggle to pull him out of a pickup truck parked at the Edgewood Manor Apartments off S.W. Hall Boulevard in Tigard.

The Washington County District Attorney’s Office released a trove of materials related to the investigation in response to a public records request, including police officer reports, autopsy reports, medical examiner and toxicology reports, investigation photographs and audio and video recordings both from the scene of the shooting and from interviews conducted with witnesses afterward. 

Those records show that dispatchers received three separate calls for service involving the apartment Macduff shared with his roommate and ex-girlfriend, Theresa Chapin, in the 24 hours leading up to the shooting, and five times in all since June 2020. On the day he was killed, police received at least two separate 911 calls reporting Macduff’s erratic behavior and what neighbors thought was domestic violence. Photos from police evidence show holes in the wall of the apartment hallway near the bathroom door, as well as dents on the exterior of the front door. 

Chapin also told police that on several occasions Macduff lit logs on fire while inside the apartment, and also stated at one point that he and Chapin were like “Romeo and Juliet” and that one of them would be “skinned alive.” After Macduff was shot, she told officers that his bizarre behavior, caused by untreated mental illness, had grown progressively worse during the nine months they lived together in Tigard after moving from Las Vegas. 

Police evidence photos show damage to an interior wall.
Police evidence photos show damage to an interior wall reportedly done by Jacob Macduff at the apartment he shared with roommate Theresa Chapin on the night he was shot and killed by a Tigard Police Officer. Washington County District Attorney

The night he was shot, Macduff had yet another altercation with Chapin in which he threatened to hit her with a frozen water bottle and attempted to break down her bedroom door. This came after she informed him that she was moving out of the apartment. The noise from this episode is what led to neighbors calling 911. 

Before officers arrived, however, Jacob left the apartment and went downstairs to his Nissan Frontier pickup truck, which was parked in a covered ground-level space. 

According to a report filed by Beaverton Police Detective Christopher Crosslin, a member of the Washington County Major Crimes Team, six Tigard Police officers were at the Edgewood Manor when Macduff was shot. They attempted to talk to Macduff for an hour and 15 minutes. 

Officer Nathaniel Will, a member of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Crisis Negotiation Team, was one of the first on scene and parked his patrol vehicle directly behind Macduff’s truck, blocking him in. Will then led the effort to try and convince Macduff to leave the truck, speaking with him via cell phone for over 45 minutes. 

During this time, however, the windows of the truck were reportedly rolled up and Macduff was initially only communicating with hand signals. As officers continued to try and speak with Macduff, Sgt. Caleb Phillips spoke at one point with Jacob’s mother, Maria Macduff, who told police she was the registered owner of the truck and wanted them to remove Jacob from inside. She also said she wanted to speak with Jacob, but never did. 

Tigard Police officers used their vehicles to box in Jacob Macduff’s gray Nissan pickup truck.
Tigard Police officers used their vehicles to box in Jacob Macduff’s gray Nissan pickup truck at the Edgewood Manor Apartments the night Macduff was shot and killed. Washington County District Attorney

During this time, several officers stated to Macduff that he was going to be arrested for domestic harassment and criminal mischief for damaging his and Chapin’s apartment. Officers also reported that Macduff responded with “constitutional/sovereign citizen” type answers, which worried officers because this ideology claims that state and federal laws do not apply to its believers.

In addition, information about Macduff’s previous run-ins with police in Santa Barbara, Calif., and Las Vegas, had been shared with officers. 

Officers then devised a plan to break out the windows of the truck, unlock the door and physically extract Macduff from inside. According to Crosslin’s report, Maldonado then broke the driver’s side window of the truck around 5:48 p.m. and announced that Macduff had a knife. Phillips said that when the glass broke, “everyone started yelling and then he heard shots fired.” 

Mastrich said that as the window broke, he saw Macduff dive for the center console, causing him to fear for the safety of both Maldonado and Officer Gabriel Stone. 

“I don’t know what he is reaching for,” Mastrich told investigators. “I don’t know if he’s reaching for his knife, a gun, or whatever and with it so confined, they don’t have an escape route.”

At that point, Mastrich fired at least two beanbag rounds from his shotgun at the truck’s windshield. 

This photo from police evidence shows the knife that Jacob Macduff was allegedly holding.
This photo from police evidence shows the knife that Jacob Macduff was allegedly holding at the time he was shot and killed by Tigard Police Officer Gabriel Maldonado. Washington County District Attorney

In a recorded interview, Maldonado recounted how he used a window punch to break the driver’s window. As he went to swipe glass out of the window frame, Macduff started reaching toward the back seat of the truck. Maldonado said that was when he saw that Macduff was holding a black-bladed knife with a silver edge. 

“This all happens very quick right now,” Maldonado said. “As he dives, I’m yelling, ‘Stop, stop, stop, drop, stop, drop it,’ and I don’t know if, I, Stone and them, I don’t think they can see. This window’s too dark, there’s no way they can see in here, I’m the only one that can see clearly through this window.”  

After drawing his sidearm, Maldonado said, “I don’t know how many shots I fired the first time to get him to stop, to stop the threat of whatever he was gonna pull outta there and use on us, because clearly in his hand was a knife already, whatever he was going for was either gonna be worse or that big knife we were talking about.”  

Maldonado also describes being stuck between a parked van behind him and fellow officers to his sides, giving him no room to maneuver. He said it also left him as the only officer able to see clearly inside the truck. 

“I’m trying to let everybody know what I saw just because I know they can’t see and he keeps digging and he won’t pull his arms out, he’s over the center console and both arms in there, whatever he’s trying to get, he’s digging for it, he will not show me his arms, I just want him to show me his hands,” Maldonado said. “He doesn’t, he almost takes a good deep breath and he starts digging again, so I fired another few more shots and one of the last few shots that I fired finally hit him.” 

Officers yelled at Macduff again to show his hands, but by that time he was gravely injured and did not respond. Officers moved around to the passenger side of the truck and then pulled Macduff out. They began emergency medical aid and paramedics arrived momentarily, but Macduff died at the scene. An autopsy found that all eight shots fired from Maldonado’s pistol struck Macduff in the chest and upper body.

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Josh Kulla is a writer and photographer with experience reporting on city, county and state government, as well as photographing news, sports and events, across the Portland metropolitan area. In his spare time, he can be found photographing Northwest landscapes. He can be reached at [email protected]