Police blocked off the West Salem Goodwill parking lot after an officer shot and killed a man inside on Sept. 18, 2019. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)
A Dallas police officer said he shot a suspected drug dealer he was struggling with in a Salem Goodwill store because the man had a gun and “I believed he was gonna kill me,” according to newly-released police reports.
The suspect, Scott Gabriel Spangler, 43, of Dallas, died from a single gunshot in the Sept. 18 incident inside the Goodwill store at 585 Edgewater St. N.W.
The officer, Darren Buchholz, described the shooting in a taped interview with investigating officers. A Polk County grand jury later cleared Buchholz, determining he acted in self-defense.
The Salem Police Department on Thursday released more than 150 pages of reports in response to a public records request from Salem Reporter.
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The shooting followed a drug arrest gone awry, according to the reports.
A Polk County interagency drug team of five officers planned to arrest Spangler after arranging to buy $200 worth of heroin from him. According to the police reports, Spangler texted who he thought was a drug customer to change locations for a meeting.
As police watched, Spangler arrived in the Goodwill parking lot and went into a nearby fast-food restaurant with a companion. The driver soon followed them into the fast-food burger chain, and police said Spangler and his companion then walked back to the car.
Instead of getting into the car, Spangler and the woman with him walked into the Goodwill store, and officers chased after him, the reports said, shouting at him to get on the ground. The reports said the officers had vests and wore badges that identified them as police.
Buchholz told detectives that he grabbed Spangler by a hoodie he was wearing and took him to the floor, where the two struggled.
“I wanted to secure the closest hand I could I went for his left arm and at that time I could see his jacket come up and a pistol come out on the right side of his body in his right hand,” Buchholz said, according to a transcript. “At that time I yelled, ‘He’s got a gun.’”
The Dallas officer said he heard Spangler say: “I don’t have a gun.”
“At that point I fully believe he was gonna try and kill me, he was trying to get me to let up on his arm thinking that I would think oh it’s not a gun and then he was gonna [expletive] kill me,” Buchholz told police interviewers.
“The gun was coming off the ground and up, um, I tried to lock my arm out I shifted, pulled my pistol out, drew my pistol, um, I looked over at his face I put the muzzle of my pistol somewheres in this area. I – it was my intent to put it in his face so he could see it, um, and at that time the gun was still coming up I could see it coming up and I believed he was gonna kill me and I fired one shot,” Buchholz told investigators.
At the time, several employees and customers were in the store. Most reported hearing but not seeing the incident.
Spangler had been a target of the drug team for several weeks, the reports said. He had prior brushes with law enforcement, according to court records.
Spangler struggled with methamphetamine use and pleaded guilty to drug charges in the past, the court records show.
In 2015, Spangler shot himself in the chest with a pistol, according to court records. A little more than a month later, Buchholz arrested Spangler for illegally having a firearm.
During that arrest, Spangler told Buchholz that he had been depressed and his medications were off, according to court documents.
Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, firstname.lastname@example.org or @daisysaphara.