WARNING: The above footage contains graphic video and audio.
The police shooting resulting in the death of former University of Oregon student Charles Landeros was “legally justified,” Lane County District Attorney Patricia Perlow announced in a statement on Thursday.
Landeros was killed by Eugene Police Department Officer Steve Timm on Friday, Jan. 11, in front of Cascade Middle school after a custody dispute over Landeros’ child’s enrollment.
The DA’s office provided body camera footage from Timm and Officer Aaron Johns, who responded to Timm’s request for assistance, and dashcam footage from Johns’ patrol car.
Perlow’s report, as well as officer body camera footage obtained by the Emerald, shows that Landeros pulled a gun from a holster on his hip amid a struggle, aimed the gun at Timm and fired twice, missing both times. Timm then shot Landeros in the temple, according to Perlow’s report.
“There is no clearer circumstance that the use of deadly force is justified than this,” Perlow wrote.
According to Perlow’s report, Landeros, who used they/them/their pronouns, enrolled their child at the school on Jan. 10, the day before the shooting occured. The report says the mother of Landeros’ child, who is not identified in the report, appeared at the school on the morning of the shooting to look for the child. Landeros enrolled the child at Cascade without her knowledge.
Cascade Middle School personnel called Timm, who is the resource officer for the Bethel School District, according to the report. School personnel informed Timm that they had called Landeros and that Landeros was on the way to the school.
Upon learning of the custodial dispute, Timm called for assistance and Johns joined him at the school, according to the report. Johns is also a school resource officer, but the report did not specify which district Johns assists.
Timm spoke with the mother, who provided court documents indicating that she had shared custody of the child and control over where the child attends school.
According to court documents obtained by the Emerald, the children’s mother should provide Landeros with information about the children, including information about their education. The Emerald redacted the names of Landeros’ children to protect their privacy.
Following Timm’s conversation with the mother, he spoke with Landeros separately, advising them to leave the school after they declined to answer any further questions, according to the report.
The report says that Landeros remained in the hallway to “express his view that the police did not have jurisdiction and only the principal could ask him to leave.”
At that time, the report says, Landeros’ daughter stepped into the hallway “by coincidence” and Landeros can be heard on the body camera footage telling his daughter to “go.”
According to the report, the officers warned Landeros that they would arrest them if they didn’t leave the school, but these warnings can’t be heard in the officer body camera footage.
The video shows Landeros moving away from the officers, at which point Johns physically removed Landeros out of the building through the front entrance.
The video then shows that officers told Landeros they were under arrest and that Johns attempted to handcuff them. Landeros resisted arrest, causing both to fall to the ground. In the struggle, Landeros drew a concealed 9mm Taurus handgun from his hip and pointed it at Timm, according to Perlow’s report. Landeros fired two shots at Timm and missed the officer both times.
“There were two civilian eye witnesses who confirmed that Landeros drew his weapon and fired first,” Perlow wrote. Landeros’ child also witnessed the struggle and the shootings.
Timm fired one bullet that hit the pavement and fired another bullet that hit Landeros in the temple and killed them. The officers had reason to arrest Landeros with disorderly conduct and trespass charges, according to Perlow’s report.
“Officer Timm recognized that the situation was dangerous and needed to be controlled,” Perlow wrote. “Both were in fear of their own death or the death of other bystanders or students in the area. Officer Johns said he knew that if he let go of Landeros’ hand in the struggle, [the officers] were going to be killed.”
Following the shooting, the school’s vice principal put the school on lockdown.
The report says that Landeros’ Taurus contained 18 rounds of ammunitions, excluding one round in the chamber, indicating that they fired two shots. Additionally, the report says that Landeros had another magazine on their belt, another in their car and their backpack had ammunition for a different weapon.
“It is not illegal for someone with a concealed handgun license to carry a concealed weapon into a school,” Perlow wrote. “Mr. Landeros had a CHL issued in February of 2018.”
In addition to EPD’s footage, the report says that Cascade Middle School recently installed five surveillance cameras, but they were not recording at the time. The camera facing the side of the building where the shooting occured wasn’t recording.
On the day of Landeros’ death, the Civil Liberties Defense Center, a group Landeros volunteered with, wrote on its Facebook page that its community is “shocked and grieving.” The CLDC is an organization that provides legal assistance to those affected by social inequality and environmental destruction, according to its Facebook page.
In a statement about Landeros’ death on the CLDC’s website, the group cited statistics about the disproportionate number of minorities killed by law enforcement and stated that people of colors’ experiences with police is different than that of white Americans. The group stated that Landeros was of mixed Filipino and Mexican descent.
“CLDC will be investigating this officer involved shooting and is deeply saddened by the murder of another person of color by law enforcement,” CLDC wrote in a Jan. 11 Facebook post.
During a press conference on Jan. 15, Landeros’ family and CLDC attorney Lauren Regan called for the early release of the body camera footage and said that they would conduct an independent investigation into the shooting.
The CLDC sent the Emerald a statement on Thursday evening in response to the findings of Perlow’s report.
“We know that issues involving a person’s child are already tense and delicate situations with the potential to escalate,” the CLDC’s statement read. “We also know that people of color are disproportionately the victims of police violence. We know that Charlie, as an activist against police brutality and a descendant of Mexican and Filipino parents, was aware of this. We do not know, however, what was going through Charlie’s mind when they were shoved out of the door in front of their child and pinned to the wall.”
The CLDC said that Landeros’ family plans to hire “police practice experts to conduct an independent investigation to review the use of deadly force that resulted in the tragic death of their loved one.”
A portion of the DA’s report says that Landeros had a history of making threatening posts to law enforcement on Facebook. The report says that the FBI received tips about Landeros’ social media posts and “concluded there was insufficient information to substantiate that a crime had been committed.”
While at the University of Oregon, Landeros led a student protest that disrupted UO President Michael Schill’s State of the University address in October 2017. The protestors, who referred to Schill as a “CEO,” had a list of 22 demands that included cutting carbon emissions and creating a prayer room for Muslim students in the UO's Erb Memorial Union.
“Charlie was a beloved figure in the Eugene community and was known for their electric speeches and organizing around social, economic, and racial justice,” the CLDC’s statement said. “Regarding the DA’s statement today, Charlie’s younger brother, Joe could only say: ‘My love for Charlie is forever. I just want them back. This never should have happened.’”
The week after Landeros’ death, the Emerald filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI for any and all documents the bureau had about Landeros and a separate request for any and all documents relating to Community Armed Self-Defense, a self-defense organization for marginalized communities that Landeros’ helped to lead. The FBI responded to one of the Emerald’s requests on Thursday, saying that they had no documents relating to Community Armed Self-Defense.
The Emerald will continue to report on this story as more developments and records become available.