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Officer cleared in 2013 traffic stop death

The actions of Officer Will Blood of the Hillsboro Police Department, who used deadly force against an armed suspect following a traffic stop last year, have been judged by the Washington County District Attorney’s office to have been “reasonable and justified.”

At 9:40 p.m. on Oct. 25, 2013, HPD officers Blood and Tina Latendresse responded to a traffic stop on 13th Avenue near Southeast Maple Street in Hillsboro. After a man identified as Victor Torres-Elizondo, 30, opened fire on Latendresse, Blood returned fire, killing the man.

“Oregon law, specifically ORS 161.219, justifies the use of deadly physical force against another person if the other person is either using or about to use unlawful deadly force against another,” wrote Senior Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Lesowski in a letter to Hillsboro Police Department Deputy Chief Mark Bonnett. “At the time Officer Blood fired, Torres-Elizondo had just committed the felony crime of attempted aggravated murder of a police officer, and had done so by using deadly force.

“Having just shot at Officer Latendresse and still armed with a handgun in the immediate proximity of officers, the only reasonable conclusion was that he would shoot again.”

Given the situation and the facts of the case, Blood’s actions were appropriate, investigators determined.

“The investigation was thorough and is now complete,” said Lesowski. “Because there is no evidence of any crime committed by Officer Blood in this incident, the grand jury will not be asked to review the case.”

According to the official report from the incident in October, a 1995 Honda Accord was stopped by HPD officer Stewart Kelsey for an equipment violation described as a burned out license plate light. Officer Mark Vertner came to the scene with a drug detection police dog, and when the dog detected the presence of narcotics, officers decided to search the car.

Officers Blood and Latendresse responded to the scene to help with the search.

Latendresse approached the passenger side of the Honda, where Torres-Elizondo was seated. Latendresse told the occupants they would each be checked for weapons, and asked Torres-Elizondo to step out of the car. He hesitated, but then complied.

According to the report, while Latendresse was guiding Torres-Elizondo to the rear of the car, “he suddenly reached into his waistband, pulled out a .22 caliber revolver and fired at Latendresse from nearly point-blank range.”

“The bullet struck the handle of the Tazer holstered on Latendresse’s left hip,” the report continued. “Latendresse went to the ground as Torres-Elizondo moved toward the street, still armed with the loaded handgun.”

Officer Blood was less than 20 feet away as the incident unfolded, and had a clear view of what was happening.

As Blood observed Torres-Elizondo reaching for a gun and then firing at Latendresse, Blood was drawing his own weapon.

Immediately after Torres-Elizondo fired at Latendresse, Blood fired at the suspect and continued firing until Torres-Elizondo fell to the ground.

Officers administered first aid and an emergency medical response team was on the scene quickly, but Torres-Elizondo died soon after being shot.

The investigation revealed that Blood fired six shots from his Glock handgun. All of his rounds found their target.

“Autopsy findings … confirmed that Torres-Elizondo had been hit with six bullets,” read an excerpt of the report. “Toxicology testing showed Torres-Elizondo had been using methamphetamine prior to the shooting.”

Lt. Mike Rouches, spokesman for the Hillsboro Police Department, said the officers involved are both back on the job.

“Officers Blood and Latendresse were back on duty a few weeks after the incident and they are doing well,” Rouches said. “They’ve established a very special bond of service having been through this situation.”

Rouches added that there was a great sense of relief that no officer was seriously injured or killed in the incident.

“This traffic stop, [the kind] our officers do daily, turned deadly in an instant, and we are very pleased that our officers’ training and presence of mind turned this situation to one our officers survived,” Rouches said.

“The reality of responding to a deadly threat weighs heavily on our officers, and through our training and culture, we are always ready to work for the safety of all,” he said.

The investigation was conducted by the Washington County Major Crimes Team, which included detectives from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Tigard Police Department, with assistance from the Beaverton, Tualatin and Sherwood police departments, as well as Oregon State Police.




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