An armed man tried to hijack cars on Interstate 5, held two drivers at gunpoint and led a state police trooper on a foot chase before dying in a gunfight in which the officer shot him six times to stop him, the Marion County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release Wednesday, April 19.
A Marion County grand jury on Wednesday unanimously found that an Oregon State Police trooper was justified in shooting and killing Felipe Amezcua Manzo on Monday, April 10.
A statement released Wednesday evening by the office of District Attorney Paige Clarkson said the officer fired 47 shots at Manzo after he shot at the trooper with a laser-equipped handgun on the freeway near Mission Street in Salem.
Six bullets struck Manzo, and an autopsy found he died from gunshot wounds to his chest, back and head.
VIDEO: WARNING – Graphic image: Police shooting on I-5 in Salem
Grand jurors heard testimony from 12 witnesses including Salem police officers, who led the investigation. They also reviewed exhibits including videos, photographs, scene diagrams, dispatch recordings, ballistic information and autopsy findings.
The district attorney’s office gave the following account of the shootout.
At 8:42 a.m. on Monday, April 10, state police trooper Andrew Tuttle, was on duty and driving north on I-5 near milepost 254 in Salem when he saw a semi-trailer stalled in the middle lane. He relayed to dispatchers that he would be stopping to help the driver.
As the trooper pulled up closer to the semi-trailer, he saw Amezcua Manzo in the road with a gun in his hand.
Tuttle saw Amezcua Manzo point the gun at the driver of the semi-trailer, then point it at a driver of a nearby SUV and try to force open its passenger side door.
Amezcua Manzo then noticed the trooper and started to run to the east, toward the CarMax adjacent to the freeway. Tuttle turned on his lights and sirens and pulled his vehicle over..
When Tuttle got out and drew his firearm, he saw Amezcua Manzo run to a grass shoulder off the road and then go down into a ditch.
Tuttle yelled numerous times at Amezcua Manzo to “get on the ground,” but Amezcua Manzo continued walking south. The trooper followed him into the ditch and saw Amezcua Manzo walking with the gun in his hand.
“Amezcua Manzo then turned toward Trooper Tuttle, aimed the gun at Trooper Tuttle and started firing. Trooper Tuttle then returned fire,” the district attorney’s office said. “During this exchange of gunfire, Trooper Tuttle felt something hit him on his left arm. Trooper Tuttle started back up the incline at the side of I5, in an attempt to find coverage from the gunfire but ended up falling into the water in the bottom of the ditch.”
Tuttle was able to get up and run up to his patrol vehicle. He reloaded his firearm and noticed that Amezcua Manzo was again aiming at him and firing. The trooper then saw a “blue light or laser” coming from Amezcua Manzo’s gun.
“The light was pointed right at Trooper Tuttle’s eyes and blinded him momentarily. This light is frequently associated with laser-assisted aiming, suggesting to Trooper Tuttle that the gun was aimed at his head,” according to the statement.
Tuttle started to fire again toward Amezcua Manzo, who was still holding the gun and aiming at the trooper.
After Tuttle reloaded his gun a second time, he saw Amezcua Manzo start to walk back toward him.
“Trooper Tuttle continued to fire at Amezcua Manzo, reloading a third time, until Amezcua Manzo fell to the grass,” the district attorney’s office said. “At this time, Trooper Tuttle informed dispatch that shots had been fired and Amezcua Manzo was down.”
Medics were called to the scene.
While Tuttle waited for backup officers to arrive, a man started running down the freeway toward him. The male identified himself with a badge as a retired sheriff’s deputy in Pierce County, Washington.
Tuttle gave his backup weapon to the retired deputy, who joined Tuttle at his patrol vehicle.
“They both held Amezcua Manzo at gunpoint for their safety until back up officers arrived just a few minutes later,” according to the statement.
When other officers approached Amezcua Manzo to provide aid, they saw gunshot wounds to his chest, back and head.
“Medical aid was administered,” but Amezcua Manzo was pronounced dead at the scene, the district attorney’s office said.
A handgun with an attached laser sight and blue light was found near Amezcua Manzo.
Tuttle suffered an abrasion to his left arm but did not require additional medical attention.
“It cannot be determined if the injury Trooper Tuttle sustained was due to a bullet graze or due to his fall in the ditch,” according to the statement.
No other drivers, bystanders or officers were injured during the shootout.
Officers from the Salem Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene.
The Marion County District Attorney’s Office asked Salem police to lead the investigation of the shooting. The county requires that a police agency not involved in a fatal police shooting conduct the investigation. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office helped with the investigation.
Investigators collected video from Tuttle’s body-worn camera, his dash camera, a camera installed on one of the semi-trailers present during the shootout, as well as from drivers who were in the area at the time.
Amezcua Manzo was recorded pointing a gun at various people in the travel lanes “as he tried to gain access to vehicles.”
Some of the videos also captured moments of the gunfire exchanged between Trooper Tuttle and Amezcua Manzo.
Dr. Nicole Stanley performed an autopsy on Amezcua Manzo the following day.
Court records show Manzo lived in Independence as recently as 2013 and online social records indicated he still lived in the area.
According to the the district attorney’s office, Amezcua Manzo was previously convicted in Oregon of unlawful possession of a firearm, driving under the influence of intoxicants in 2011, and third-degree assault and fourth-degree assault in 2010. The 2020 case stems from charges filed seven years earlier for which he failed to appear at the time, according to court records.
In California, he was convicted of second-degree robbery and evading a peace officer, according to the district attorney’s statement.
The grand jury did not hear evidence of Amezcua Manzo’s criminal history.
“I am grateful to the Grand Jury for their thoughtful and thorough review of this case,” Clarkson wrote in her statement. “This case highlights the risk our police officers are willing to assume on our behalf every day. While this is not the ending anyone would’ve wanted for Mr. Amezcua Manzo, our community owes a debt of gratitude to Trooper Tuttle for his courageous actions.”
Tuttle was hired by the state police in August 2016. He previously served six years in the U.S. Navy, including four years as a military police officer.
Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.
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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.