Secrecy surrounds case of DEA agent charged for Salem cyclist’s death

Prosecutors remain silent about the criminal case involving an agent of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration nearly three months after he was charged for his role in a collision that killed a Salem cyclist.

Samuel T. Landis, 38, was indicted Sept. 6 for criminally negligent homicide, charged with killing Marganne Allen, a cyclist and state official. He was on duty at the time of the March 28 collision in south Salem.

Court records show no pending appearances by Landis, including any date to enter a plea to the felony charge.

They do show Landis was released on $2,000 bail under a release agreement that imposed standard conditions that prohibited from leaving the state or having a gun.

He sought and was given a judge’s approval on Oct. 2 to travel out of state for reasons not explained in the court record. The DEA has not responded to questions or a public records request to establish whether Landis continues to work as a federal agent despite the pending charge.

At that same court hearing, one of Landis’s attorneys advised Marion County Circuit Court Judge Tracy Prall that there would be a second request to deviate from the release conditions, this time permission to possess a gun. Prall’s notes from the session show she expected that a declaration would be filed under seal to accomplish that, meaning it would not be accessible to the public.

Prall set an Oct. 18 hearing but it was later canceled without explanation in the court record. No subsequent filings or hearings have been scheduled that would indicate action in the case.

Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson did not respond to written questions submitted last week about the status of the case, when the public can expect information or whether Landis remains employed at the DEA. The prosecutors overseeing the case, Deputy District Attorneys David Wilson and Ashley Cadotte, also did not respond.

Portland attorney David Angeli, who represents Landis, also didn’t respond to questions.

The investigation of Landis has been unusual since the beginning. The Salem Police Department started the investigation but didn’t immediately disclose that Landis worked for the DEA.

The agency then asked the Keizer Police Department to take it over because Salem police work with Landis on a drug task force. Salem police, however, didn’t turn over body camera videos recorded at the scene by its officers until nearly three months after the collision – and after Salem Reporter sought the recordings.

The felony charge alleges that the agent killed Allen with “criminal negligence,” according to the indictment. Criminally negligent homicide is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Under Oregon law, criminal negligence means a person failed to be aware of a “substantial and unjustifiable risk,” and that failure “constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.”

Allen, 53, was riding home from her state job when she collided at the intersection of Southeast High and Leslie Streets with a pickup truck that police said was driven by an on-duty DEA agent.

Video obtained by Salem Reporter showed that the driver of the pickup truck sped down Leslie Street, drove past a stop sign without stopping and into the intersection at High Street where the crash occurred.

DEA agent jailed, released on charge for Salem cyclist’s death

DEA agent faces state felony charge in death of Salem cyclist

Salem police gave video evidence to investigators three months after cyclist’s death

City kept in close touch with DEA following fatal cyclist collision, records show

Video shows driver ran stop sign in fatal collision with Salem cyclist

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

SUPPORT OUR WORK – We depend on subscribers for resources to report on Salem with care and depth, fairness and accuracy. Subscribe today to get our daily newsletters and more. Click I want to subscribe!

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.