A veteran Benton County Sheriff’s Office sergeant has been cleared after an investigation into whether the shots he fired during an August call to a residence south of Philomath were justified.
Benton County District Attorney John Haroldson, who last week issued a five-page report on the incident, concluded that the actions taken by Sgt. Ryan Moody "were reasonable, taken for purposes of defense of himself or another, and are thus justified under the circumstances.”
No one was injured during the incident and no charges have been filed against anyone involved.
Moody, who has been with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office since 1992, has returned to duty, said Sheriff Scott Jackson. Moody was put on temporary administrative leave during the review, which was led by the Albany Police Department because a Benton County deputy was involved in the incident. Such leaves are standard practice for law enforcement agencies.
Moody fired two shots Aug. 7 after responding to a 10 p.m. 911 call at a property on Ervin Road that includes a manufactured home and two RV camp trailers. After making contact with a resident at one of the trailers, Moody was confronted by Charles Wesley Praither IV, who emerged from the rear of the trailer, and unholstered a gun.
Haroldson's report said Moody walked backward in an attempt to take cover and fired two shots while stumbling over a portable cooler. No one was hit by the gunshots and Praither set down his weapon without firing after being directed to do so by Moody and Deputy Brent Iverson, who also was at the scene.
“I absolutely thought I was gonna get shot,” Haroldson's report quoted Moody as saying when interviewed about the incident. “I was staring directly straight down the barrel of a gun.”
Praither gave conflicting accounts regarding whether he pulled the gun out of its holster, but Haroldson concluded that “there is insufficient evidence to conclude there is a basis for criminal liability on the part of Mr. Praither.”
Haroldson’s report noted that Praither was unaware of the 911 call, that the dim light made it difficult for him to see that Sgt. Moody was a law enforcement officer and that he “complied with directions and put down his firearm” as soon as he realized Moody and Iverson were with law enforcement.
The 911 call originated from the main residence on the property and came from a resident suffering from dementia. As it turned out, there was no emergency for the officers to investigate.