Officer's fight for his life against man with gun captured on body camera

By Joe Vargas

A school resource officer in Eugene, Oregon ended up in a life or death struggle on Jan. 11 with a parent at the local junior high. The struggle ended with a parent being shot and the officer publicly vilified by local community activists.

This week, the Lane County District Attorney’s office released its report clearing the officers in the shooting. District Attorney Patty Perlow said, “no clearer circumstance that the use of deadly force is justified than this.”

Officers were called to the school after the mother of a student arrived to take issue with the fact that her ex-husband, Charles Landeros, had enrolled their daughter in the school without her permission. Officers responded and after reviewing the custody paperwork determined the mother had the right to remove the daughter from the school.

In order to keep the peace Landeros was asked to leave. That’s when the problems started. Landeros told the officers that only the principal could make him leave. At that point, they escorted him outside and were placing him under arrest when Landeros pulled a 9mm pistol from the back of his waistband.

Landeros fired two shots at one of the officers but missed. Both men fell to the ground and the second officer responded by firing two shots. One those shots fatally wounded Landeros.

All of this was caught on body cam footage. Despite the chief’s desire to release the video immediately, the District Attorney felt that for the integrity of the investigation they should wait. In the meantime, the Eugene Civil Liberties Defense Center seized the opportunity to hold press conferences and put out press releases condemning the police actions. The Eugene Police Employees Association has demanded an apology. None has been forthcoming.

The family, through their attorney, has asked for a separate outside investigation. I don’t know how any investigation would explain Landeros’ need to  the pull out a gun and try to kill an officer.

The District Attorney’s report could not identify Landeros’ motivation for wanting to confront the officers, however, a report was made the same day to the Springfield Police Department regarding Landeros allegedly commenting on a posting of a police officer being killed in which he stated, “Death to all pigs.”

Landeros was also previously reported to the FBI regarding violent antigovernment messages, but there was nothing to prove a crime had been committed.

It’s no wonder police officers have to be vigilant. You just never know who you’re going to run into, and things can go from bad to worse in just seconds.

Joe is a retired police captain. You can reach him at jvargas@behindthebadgeoc.com.