Opinion: Macduff Shooting

(left) Tigard man Jacob Macduff is shown in a photo from March 2020 at Cold Stone Creamery. (right) Jacob Macduff and his mother, Maria Macduff, are shown together viewing new vehicles in this March 2020 photo. (Courtesy/Maria Macduff)

It was seventy-four minutes from the time Tigard Police Officers first encountered Jacob Ryan Macduff, locked in his pickup, until Officer Maldonado broke out the window and fatally shot him. During this time, Officer Mills, a trained negotiator, spoke on the phone with Jacob Macduff for a little less than an hour. During this conversation, Macduff was never threatening or violent in any way. 

He simply refused to subject himself to getting out of his vehicle and going to jail. Police had his truck blocked in so he couldn’t go anywhere and had “probable cause.” On scene were six Tigard Police vehicles and six Tigard Police Officers. From Macduff’s pickup, he could look around and see most of the officers much of the time. There was never any de-escalation to be seen unless Officers Will’s conversation was considered such.  

It was just getting dark on January 6, 2021, and Macduff was surrounded by flashing red and blue lights. 

His crime: severely threatening his female roommate/ex-girlfriend and beating holes in the wall of their apartment. 

Tigard Police had been called to their apartment three times over the past twenty-four hours. Each time the officer left without talking to Macduff. 

Officers were told of Macduff’s mental history, including current violent episodes and still did not intervene, stating at one point that they didn’t want to poke a sleeping bear.

After negotiation was an apparent failure, Sargent Phillips and Officer Stone hatched a plan to break the driver-side window and extract Macduff from the vehicle, handcuff him and take him to jail. They shared that plan with the other officers on the scene.  

Macduff’s truck was parked in a concrete parking area under the backside of the apartment complex. 

His truck was parked straight in, next to a van on the driver’s side and adjacent to an empty parking spot on the passenger side. Macduff was suspected of having a knife. When Officer Maldonado instituted the plan and broke out the driver’s door window, Macduff reportedly made a quick move reaching between the front seats toward the floor of the back seat. Not knowing what he was reaching for, Officer Mastrich, with a less-than-lethal beanbag shotgun, fired two rounds into the front windshield as a distraction to Macduff. 

Macduff continued reaching even though Officer Maldonado was yelling at the top of his lungs, “drop-it,” “show me your hands,” and “hands-up.”  Three seconds after the beanbag rounds were fired, Officer Maldonado fired five 9mm rounds from his Glock through the open window into Macduff as Officer Mastrich fired a third beanbag round into the windshield. Maldonado kept yelling and 17 seconds later fired three more rounds into Macduff. Five minutes later, Tigard Police Officers wielding a bullet-proof shield opened the passenger side doors, and Officer Mace dragged Macduff out of the truck and onto the concrete. The officers immediately began to administer first aid, paramedics and life flight were called. Shortly thereafter, Macduff was pronounced dead, and Life Flight was canceled. Macduff sustained eight bullet wounds penetrating his lungs, heart and spleen and severing his spine.

Jacob Macduff is gone at 26 years old. A review of actions taken that night won’t bring Jacob back; that train has left the station. What now? 

Were the actions taken that night the right ones? Hindsight is 20/20. What if the plan hatched by the officers was to send most of the officers on their way and strap the doors shut on Jacob’s truck and wait for him to decide to come out? 

One patrol car was parked behind him with spike strips behind his tires. He wasn’t going anywhere. He had a cell phone. He could call and tell Tigard Police that he had time to think out his predicament in a deescalated situation, and he was ready to subject himself willfully to arrest. Or, he would have to use the restroom at some time, and he had to eat. It could be conveyed to him that this wasn’t a real serious crime he was charged with, and maybe he could get the mental health he needed. A restraining order could be issued to protect his roommate.

Is it so embedded in police training that officers have to resolve the issue now and with force when time and de-escalation might have a better result?  

I have lived in Tigard for twenty-six years and believe Tigard Police Officers are among the best. 

Officer Maldonado no longer works in law enforcement. He has been found to have acted in the best interest of his obligation to keep his fellow officers safe so that they can return home to their families, to his peril. 

I sincerely hope that he can get the help needed to come to terms with the events of that day.

Tigard Police Chief McAlpine has been extremely open to communications and granted me an audience with herself and Commander McDonald. They were very receptive to hearing what I had to say, digesting my suggestions, and answering my questions. They both feel horrible about the events of that evening and the loss that the friends and family of Jacob Macduff feel. They have assured me that their actions have been dissected from every angle imaginable, and lessons learned become training aids and go beyond the Tigard Police Department.