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Officer shooting ruled justified

The Dalles Police Det. Jamie Carrico returned to work today after a Klickitat County coroner’s inquest ruled his 2013 fatal shooting of a rape suspect in Wishram was justifiable homicide.

Carrico, a The Dalles native who joined the police department in July 1995, was part of a group of officers who went to Wishram Oct. 16, 2013, to interview a man suspected of raping a pre-teen girl in The Dalles.

The man, Adrian Suarez, 22, fled out a back door, where Carrico gave chase. Suarez fired at Carrico, hitting him in the upper side. Carrico returned fire and killed Suarez.

The six-member jury at the inquest, which was held at the Klickitat County Courthouse, deliberated only about 15 minutes before returning its decision, The Dalles Police Chief Jay Waterbury said.

The inquest lasted less than a full day: Jury selection began at 9 a.m., then some 10 witnesses took the stand and a ruling was issued by 3 p.m., Waterbury said.

“The investigation is now over,” he said. “They’ve reached a determination, it was the right determination as far as I’m concerned. Det. Carrico did his job and unfortunately sometimes these things happen, and he is now back to work.”

He added, “He’s been through training, he followed his training. He did what no police officer wants to do, but he did it because he had to.”

Carrico had been medically cleared to return to work by Dec. 30, Waterbury said, “but he was not able to return to work because of this delay in having the coroner’s inquest.”

While coroner’s inquests are not standard in Oregon, guidelines in Washington call for inquests in all officer-involved shootings.

“Even though I thought everything was fine, he still had to wait to go through this coroner’s inquest thing, an incredibly stressful time for himself and his family,” Waterbury said.

Waterbury recommended Carrico not be contacted by the Chronicle for this story, “because it’s been a very stressful time and he needs to have time to just go back to work and be with his family and try to get through this, and reliving it does not help.”

The Chronicle honored Waterbury’s request.

Carrico, a plainclothes detective, was not wearing a ballistic vest when he was shot, and department policy makes the vests optional for plainclothes detectives. Waterbury said that policy was being reviewed.

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