Grand Jury makes ruling in Eagle Point Officer-Involved Shooting


The grand jury in the case of the Eagle Point office-involved shooting at Carl's Jr. on September 19th decided that the officer had acted lawfully.

Five of the seven grand jurors concluded that the actions of Officer Daniel Cardenas were fully justified and in compliance with Oregon law. Matthew Thayer Graves was fatally shot by an Eagle Point police officer at the Carl’s Jr. Restaurant in September of this year.

On Wednesday, Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert spoke to the media on what the Grand Jury was asked to consider whether the actions of the police officer were justified as a lawful use of deadly force. Oregon law provides a person may use deadly physical force against another person if the person reasonable believes that person is about to use deadly physical force against the person or another person.

In deciding this case, the Grand Jury heard testimony from 10 witnesses.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office was the lead agency on the case, and was assisted by members of the Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit (MADUI).

The following is a detailed account of the findings from the District Attorney's investigation:

The testimony presented to the grand jury established on September 19, 2018 Officer Daniel Cardenas was on patrol in a marked Eagle Point Police patrol car. Officer Cardenas has worked for the Eagle Point Police Department since 2016. Officer Cardenas was driving southbound on Highway 62 near the intersection at Linn Rd, Eagle Point. He observed Matthew Graves start to cross in the road against the light. Officer Cardenas made a U-turn to contact Matthew Graves. Officer Cardenas testified he intended to talk to Matthew Graves about the infraction of Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device. Officer Cardenas turned on his overhead lights, started recording on his body cam and said “what are you doing?.” Matthew Graves immediately starting walking away and yelled at the officer “you are not following me, f--- you.” Officer Cardenas got back in his patrol car and followed Matthew Graves to the Carl’s Jr. Restaurant. Officer Cardenas radioed dispatch the subject was walking away from him and asked for a back-up officer. Matthew Graves continued to yell at Officer Cardenas and went into the Carl’s Jr. Restaurant. Once inside the restaurant, he immediately went into the men’s bathroom.

Officer Cardenas testified Matthew Graves’s behavior was unusual. The father of Matthew Graves, Michael Graves testified to the grand jury that his son frequently walked to Carl’s Jr. Restaurant and other businesses. He testified that his son had a problem with drugs back in 2012, but had not been using any drugs since that time. He said his son had been diagnosed with schizophrenia when he had been in jail back in 2012. He had been prescribed a medication, but his son stopped taking the medication shortly after. He said on September 19, 2018 his sons demeanor was normal, nothing unusual had happened during the day.

Officer Cardenas stated he believed due to his behavior Matthew Graves might have a warrant or a weapon. When Officer Cardenas entered the bathroom, he drew his firearm because he did not know what Matthew Graves might do. Officer Cardenas observed Matthew Graves washing his hands. Officer Cardenas ordered Matthew Graves to show his hands. Matthew Graves did not comply, he went to the towel dispenser and dried his hands. At this point, Officer Cardenas gave more commands to Matthew Graves who did not comply. Officer Cardenas observed both of Matthew Graves’s hands, so he holstered his firearm and drew his taser. Officer Cardenas continued to give Matthew Graves commands. Matthew Graves tried to push past Officer Cardenas to leave the bathroom. Officer Cardenas pushed Matthew Graves back and Matthew Graves approached Officer Cardenas again. On the third push, Matthew Graves reached for Officer Cardenas throat/chest area. At this point, the backup Officer Davis arrived at the bathroom door. Officer Cardenas deployed his taser but it had little effect on Matthew Graves. At that point Matthew Graves punched Officer Davis in the face. This knocked Officer Davis to the floor. Officer Cardenas took Matthew Graves to the floor as well. During this struggle, Officer Cardenas taser fell to the floor.

Officer Davis stated “There’s a gun” and Officer Cardenas asked “You have a gun?” to which Officer Davis stated “There’s a gun”. At that time, Officer Cardenas testified he believed Matthew Graves had a gun and was about to shoot Officer Davis. Officer Cardenas observed both of Officer Davis’ hands trapping Matthew Graves’s hands and he saw the butt of a gun. Officer Cardenas then drew his firearm and shot Matthew Graves twice in the back area. Officer Cardenas stated he believed Matthew Graves would roll over on his side and shoot one or both of them.

Immediately after the shooting, Officer Cardenas asked Officer Davis “Where’s the gun?” Officer Davis replies it’s a taser. It is clear from reviewing the transcript of Officer Cardenas body cam Officer Cardenas still believed Matthew Graves had a gun. After a few moments of confusion, they were able to determine it was Officer Cardenas’s taser Matthew Graves had his hand.

Officer CJ Davis testified he arrived as the back-up officer. Officer Davis said that he entered Carl’s Jr. and could hear yelling. Officer Davis entered the men’s bathroom and was trying to assist Officer Cardenas in taking Matthew Graves into custody. Officer Davis did not know that Officer Cardenas had deployed a taser. Matthew Graves lunged at the two Officers and struck Officer Davis in the face. The strike disoriented Officer Davis and he was on the floor struggling with Matthew Graves. Officer Davis testified that he looked down and saw a gun in the Matthew Graves hand. The gun was pointed in Officer Davis’s direction. Officer Davis trapped the gun with his hands and attempted to push it away from his direction. At that time Officer Davis yelled he’s got a gun. A moment later, the taser went off and tased Officer Davis. At this point, he realized it was not a gun, but a taser. Officer Davis stated “There’s a gun. Oh, it’s a taser.”

In watching the body cam, the time between when Officer Davis said he has a gun to the shots being fired is four seconds. The time from when Officer Cardenas entered the bathroom to shots being fired is less than a minute and half.

The Deputy State Medical Examiner Dr. Olson testified there were two bullet entrance wounds. The first was located in the left upper back and the second was located in the right upper back. Dr. Olson also noted two taser dart marks, one on the upper left chest and one on the left forearm. The toxicology results were negative.

The grand jury deliberated for about 15 minutes before announcing their decision. Five of the grand jurors concluded that the actions of Officer Cardenas were fully justified and in compliance with Oregon law. This case was presented to the grand jury by Jackson County District Attorney Beth Heckert. The grand jurors felt that a taser should be a different color, so it could not be mistaken for a firearm.

The District Attorneys office is expected to release footage of the incident on Thursday.

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