A recent investigative report in The Oregonian has raised new questions about the murder-suicide rampage of an off-duty Clackamas County sheriff’s deputy earlier this year. According to the paper, its revelations may expose the county to an Oregon wrongful death lawsuit.
The paper looked into the circumstances leading up to the deadly evening last February when Jeffrey Grahn stormed into a Portland nightclub where he killed his wife and shot two of her friends before turning the gun on himself. The potential of a Portland wrongful death claim now arises because of memos obtained by the paper using a public records request.
According to the paper, these show that the Clackamas County sheriff’s office departed from its normal protocol in urging the Portland police to ““hold off” on contacting the district attorney’s office” last year after an investigation raised troubling questions about Grahn and his behavior. When allegations of domestic violence and other troubling behavior by Grahn first emerged in 2009, the paper reports, the Sheriff’s office brought in the Portland police – a standard procedure when the law enforcement agency needs to investigate one of its own. According to the paper, however, the newly released memos show that the Sheriff’s office later intervened to stop the Portland police from taking their concerns about Grahn to prosecutors.
In a situation such as this an Oregon wrongful death claim from the families of Grahn’s victims may be in order if the evidence indicates that normal protocols were violated and that doing so enabled his shooting spree the following winter.
The allegations also, however, highlight the complexity of Oregon wrongful death claims, and the need most people have for expert legal advice before deciding to pursue a Portland or Clackamas County wrongful death case. A Portland wrongful death attorney can help those left behind work through the specifics of their circumstances and advise whether the justice system is likely to find merit in their claims. Consulting with an experienced Oregon wrongful death attorney is the key first step on the long road to justice following a tragedy.