Last Thursday, an officer with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs police shot Gilbert Matthew Negrete at a VA facility in White City, Oregon, just north of Medford.
The thirty-four-year-old Negrete was driven to the facility for an appointment, where he reportedly began behaving in an aggressive and incoherent manner. When VA police arrived, he allegedly pulled a knife, prompting the officers to attempt “less lethal force options”—possibly a taser, though this was not specified. When that failed to disarm Negrete, an officer shot him in the chest.
Negrete was released from a Medford hospital on Saturday into the custody of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO), according to information given to the Associated Press by Senior Deputy District Attorney Laura Cromwell.
He was arraigned on Monday while still in jail, supplied with a public defender and a video feed of the courtroom. Negrete was formally charged with attempted assault, unlawful use of a weapon, disorderly conduct, menacing, and violation of a restraining order, according to the DA and JCSO.
The names of the involved VA officers will be released at a later date, once an internal VA investigation is complete.
A grand jury will be convened later this week, Cromwell told the Eugene Register-Guard, which will decide whether to proceed with the charges against Negrete. The grand jury will also decide whether or not to seek criminal charges against the VA officer. According to Cromwell, grand jury proceedings are held following all officer-involved shootings in Jackson County.
Negrete served in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2008 to 2011, the Register Guard reports, and was awared the Army Achievement Medal. His wife told the Medford Mail-Tribune that she began noticing his mental health issues when he returned from Iraq. Matt’s father told the Mail-Tribune that he’d been trying to get him into the VA for a long time to get treatment for those issues.
He added, “I didn’t take him there to get shot."
The Jackson County Sheriff says that, contrary to initial press reports, Negrete was not voicing his anger with the VA and its services, but was pacing and speaking in a “paranoid and generally incoherent” manner before his interaction with the VA police.
His father said that the knife Negrete had was a small paring knife.
Negrete had run-ins with the Sheriff’s office in the days leading up to the VA incident, and was released from jail the day before, due to overcrowding.
In addition to the internal VA investigation, the county’s Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit (MADIU) is conducting its own inquiries.
--Sam Bouman, KBOO