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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


Rex was hanging in there valiantly, but Tutmark knew the dog was close to being out of the fight. Steigleder was already pulling up with severe leg and back pain from prior injuries; Schaffer was encumbered with a rifle that remained effectively up for grabs. Worse, none of them had any idea as to what kinds of weapons Graham might have on him.

The situation was quickly becoming desperate. Tutmark redirected at that point and administered head strikes to the ex-con with his ASP. But these blows, too, were brushed off by Graham as effortlessly as he had the TASER, the dog, and all the blows previously administered upon him.

Instead of showing any signs of wearing down, Graham seemed to be getting stronger, despite the otherwise debilitating cold that stabbed at the limbs of the assembled officers. The man charged at Tutmark, extending both hands outward in a bid to encircle the sergeant's legs and take him down. Tutmark compensated, kicking Graham dead center in the chest and knocking the man down.

A split-second later Graham was back on his feet and facing Tutmark. Rex was still hanging onto his leg, but plainly spent. Tutmark had a terrifying epiphany just then: They were all spent-everyone and everything save for Graham.

Tutmark's spirits were dropping as precipitously as the thermometer. He wasn't one to panic and enjoyed a reputation as the level-headed guy that his deputies wanted with them when the chips were down. But in his heart he knew that he'd given the man his best shot, and at any moment Graham would be in a position to take a firearm away from any one of them. He decided to go for his own first.

Dead Wrong

Tutmark had long ago made peace with the prospect of having to use deadly force if the circumstances warranted it. The only reason that Graham was in a position to take them on was because the bastard hadn't been put down years before when he should have. If a similar amnesty was made tonight, three more officers' names could end up on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Tutmark wasn't going to make that mistake.

With Schaffer and Steigleder off to his right, Tutmark figured he had as clear a shot as he was going to get given the confines of the environment. He aimed his gun at Graham and squeezed the trigger.


Between the frigid conditions and getting his hand twisted in the dog's collar when he'd taken it off, Tutmark's trigger finger had frozen up. To compensate, he moved his middle finger to get enough strength to activate the trigger of the .40 caliber Glock 22 just as Graham started to spin away from him.

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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