A grand jury has determined the use of deadly force by officers with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police was justified in a traffic stop in Milwaukie earlier this year that killed a 24-year-old Black man from Tigard.
The incident began on the rainy evening of June 18, when OSP Trooper Zachary Cole and Clackamas County Detective Daniel Ferguson attempted to pull over 24-year-old Derrick Dewayne Clark on suspicion of driving under the influence of intoxicants.
Clark reportedly fled the attempted traffic stop at high speed, ultimately crashing his vehicle into a ditch at Southeast Railroad Avenue and Southeast Wood Avenue in Milwaukie.
According to the official account released by the Oregon Department of Justice this week, as well as law enforcement statements at the time, Ferguson and Cole gave Clark verbal instructions to show his hands but he did not comply.
Clark then got out of his vehicle with a firearm in his right hand and attempted to flee, the DOJ said. While on the run, Clark reportedly raised the weapon in the air, at which point both Ferguson and Cole fired multiple shots at him.
Clark was hit twice and died at the scene.
After a thorough investigation by the DOJ, an assistant attorney general presented the case to a Clackamas County grand jury on Monday. The grand jury returned a “not true bill” that same night, meaning the jurors believed criminal charges against the two officers were not warranted.
“This was obviously a tragic incident that everyone wishes had not happened,” Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said. “I want to thank Clackamas County grand jurors for their service as well as the Oregon City and Lake Oswego police departments for their thorough investigation.”
At the time of his death, Clark was a volunteer teacher-in-training for The Insight Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to rehabilitating adults and young people impacted by incarceration.
He was introduced to the program while serving a sentence for a 2015 second-degree robbery at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn.
“From mentoring other youth who’d been impacted by the carceral system to speaking at global conferences, Derrick was a huge advocate for mental health support, mutual aid, and racial justice,” the Insight Alliance said at the time. “He was a powerful presence and never shied away from standing up for those who needed it.”
A memorial honoring Clark and protesting his killing was held in Oregon City a week after his death, with more than 200 peaceful protesters marching to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office carrying signs reading “Justice 4 Derrick,” “Derrick Clark Should Still Be Alive” and “24 Years Old.”
Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!