A Salem police vehicle. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

A Marion County grand jury on Tuesday unanimously found a Salem officer who fatally shot a Salem man was justified in using deadly force.

Salem police officer Nathan Bush shot Arcadio Castillo III four times on July 9 as Castillo III rushed toward him with a knife, according to a news release from the Marion County District Attorney’s Office.

The following is the Marion County District Attorney’s account of events.

Bush responded to a report of a domestic violence call on July 9. Castillo’s mother, Misty Castillo, called 911 at 11:20 p.m. to report her son was assaulting her and her husband in their northeast Salem home.

Castillo told a dispatcher her 23-year-old son was mentally ill and was drunk and high. She said she feared for her husband’s safety because her son was armed with a knife and had been threatening them.

The 911 call was interrupted but the sounds of a struggle and screaming could be heard as the line went dead. Misty Castillo later told police her son followed her, assaulted her and took the phone from her.

The dispatcher's call back to Castillo’s phone went straight to voicemail.

Bush was the first officer to respond and ran to the house on foot so as not to alert Castillo III.

He found Misty Castillo with injuries to her hand, wrist, knee and lower leg as a result of her son slamming her into her car, knocking her to the ground and then dragging her across the cement.

Misty Castillo told Bush that she needed his help and that he needed to go in the house and protect her husband.

Bush walked to the front door and heard two male voices, one of which “seemed to be growing increasingly agitated,” the district attorney’s office release said. Bush opened the door and saw Castillo III standing 12 feet away holding a large butcher knife at his side. His father, Arcadio Castillo Jr., was standing in the living room to the left of the front door.

Bush ordered Castillo III to drop the knife several times. Castillo III walked slowly toward Bush, then stopped, turned and began to walk away.

The district attorney’s office said that Bush viewed the moment as an opportunity to get the father out of the house to safety. Bush took a step inside and motioned Castillo Jr. to come outside.

As he did, Castillo III turned and rushed toward him with the knife raised closing the distance to five feet. Bush fired four shots in rapid succession, causing Castillo III to collapse to the floor.

Bush called for medics and began “life saving measures” on Castillo III. Castillo III died at the scene.

In an interview with police that night, Misty Castillo said her son’s anger and violence had been escalating over the past few months. Prior to calling 911, she said her son hit and kicked both her and her husband and threatened them with a butcher knife.

When she told her son she was calling 911, her son said, “he wasn’t going to be leaving his house and that if anyone tried to take him from his house, he was going to stab ‘em.”

The grand jury heard testimony from Oregon State Police detectives and reviewed dozens of exhibits including pictures, a neighboring house’s Nest security camera video, and the recorded statements of Misty Castillo and Arcadio Castillo Jr. taken the night of the shooting. Misty Castillo and Arcadio Castillo Jr. also testified before the grand jury in person and under oath. 

Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected]

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