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Departments : Shots Fired

Shots Fired: Clackamas County, Oregon, 12/05/2005

A determined ex-con gave officers all they could handle in a fight, forcing a sergeant to make a fateful decision.

April 12, 2011  |  by - Also by this author

As the call coincided with shift change, Tutmark joined Sgt. Paul Steigleder, Dep. Tom Schaffer, and Dep. Doug Burgess in responding to the informant's location.

Burgess advised that while he was game to assist with the search, he was coming down with a pretty bad case of the flu. Tutmark told him to stay inside the patrol car, figuring the ready availability of a manned patrol unit would give them more tactical latitude should Graham resume his flight.

With Burgess and the rest of their cars parked about half a mile from the informant's residence, the officers trekked uphill to where her property abutted the area previously searched. They worked their way up the long driveway and reached the top when Rex alerted to a human scent just as Sgt. Steigleder saw a man out in the field.

Biting Cold

By this time the temperature had dropped to 25 degrees, and with 20 to 30 mph winds buffeting them, neither man nor dog really wanted to be out there.

Neither did Graham, and when they called to him he suddenly bolted for a fence at the property line. Announcing that he was going to release the dog, Tutmark then made good on his word.

Rex rapidly closed the distance, engaging Graham with the kind of solid, full-mouth leg bite that'd brought bigger men to their knees.

On this, Graham proved no different, and seeing that the man was down, Tutmark caught up with the dog and seized its collar. He ordered Rex to release his bite as Steigleder and Schaffer moved in to cuff the man.

But here Graham deviated from the script. He did not cry tears of relief at his emancipation from the canine's jaws as many a man had before him. Rather, he suddenly sprang upright, throwing both Steigleder and Schaffer off him.

Steigleder stepped back and deployed his TASER. But the weapon proved ineffective. A split-second later Steigleder's knee failed him, too, and he went down.

Graham wanted to get away from Rex. He initiated a series of violent kicks and punches to the tenacious dog. In doing so, Graham was exhibiting a power Tutmark normally associated with people who were either psychologically compromised or under the influence of powerful drugs.

Rex-85 pounds of canine fury-let go momentarily then re-engaged, clamping down hard on Graham's leg.

Unless he'd actually known that Rex had tethered himself to Graham, Tutmark wouldn't have guessed it. The ex-con dragged the dog with him at will as he lunged for Dep. Schaffer.

What Graham wanted was the rifle in Schaffer's hands, and Schaffer was relieved to retain control of it after a tug of war with the suspect. But having extricated himself from Graham's grasp, Schaffer now found himself in no man's land: Committed to maintaining control of the rifle, yet impotent to put it or anything else into tactical play.

Meanwhile, Graham's attentions reverted back to removing a distraction: Rex.

Dropping to the ground, Graham resumed a series of vicious kicks to the dog's head, as Tutmark repeatedly struck at the man with his ASP without effect.

Tags: K-9 Units, Clackamas County (Ore.) Sheriff, Assaults on Officers, Less-Lethal Force, Parolees, Shots Fired


Comments (6)

Displaying 1 - 6 of 6

Morning Eagle @ 4/12/2011 11:35 PM

Good example of the kinds of things that any officer can be confronted with without warning. Officer Tutmark did exactly the right thing in relieving society of one predatory scumbag that should have never been let back out of prison in the first place.

skinni99 @ 4/15/2011 9:34 PM

Great job guys! Text book use of force escalation. Im glad to hear all the right people went home that night.

Dg @ 12/26/2012 10:44 PM

Donald "Graham" was my brother. He went to prison when he was just 17 and remained there until he was in his 40s. He was never given a chance. I remember him being a sweet guy, he loved us. The problem in the US is that we don't help our troubled youth- how else would you expect him to have turn out?!

Elaine @ 12/27/2012 5:57 AM

Dg is right, all the facts are not played out, Donald was in the morgue with his eyes punched out, he was fighting for his life. He was marked as a child because of his namesake, and it was they who marked this teenage that made this teenager what he became! the cops persude him RELENTLESSLY when he was young for anything and everything! They created him!

AC @ 2/4/2014 6:47 PM

I just recently found out about Don's death and was saddened to read the story. I knew Don briefly through a friend in the late 80's. Even though he's been in a lot of hard core trouble, he was always kind to me and treated me like his little sister...he even tried to protect me once (over the phone) from an incident. I happen to have a couple of letters he wrote me, if his brother DG or wife would sometime like to contact me & see them, for his memory's sake.

AC @ 2/4/2014 6:58 PM

Also, why did they describe him as 5'8.. I thought he was near 6'?

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