Body cam video shows moments before Coos Bay officers shoot murder suspect
Investigators in Coos County released body camera video Wednesday that shows the moment deputies and police officers closed in on a suspected killer, before they opened fire on him.
The officer-involved shooting occurred on June 14. The suspect who was shot, 37-year-old Matthew Tyler Michel, was taken to the hospital and later died from his injuries.
According to Coos County District Attorney R. Paul Frasier, the sheriff’s office was investigating Michel as a suspect in the June 11 shooting death of 34-year-old Amber Townsend.
Townsend was found outside a home on Cape Arago Highway with multiple shotgun wounds. She was taken to a hospital where she died.
Three days after her death, investigators found surveillance video of a blue SUV that was seen driving near Townsend at the time she was killed and found out that the vehicle had recently been sold to Michel.
At around 7 p.m. on June 14, officers found the vehicle in the parking lot of the Global Inn. Motel management told the sheriff’s office that Michel had been staying there since May 16 and that he had paid cash for the rooms he rented.
Investigators also learned Michel was on probation for attempted arson and had failed to report to his probation officer. The sheriff’s office contacted the probation officer who told deputies he’d like Michel detained if they contacted him.
According to the district attorney, officers planned to knock on the door of Michel’s room and if he answered unarmed, they would take him into custody.
When Detective Aaron Whittenburg knocked on the door, Michel answered unarmed, but then began to shut the door after the detective asked to speak with Michel.
Members of the Coos County Sheriff’s Office held the door open and identified themselves as police officers. They said Michel continued to push back before moving quickly back into the room.
An officer ordered Michel to get on the floor, but Michel continued toward a bed in the room that had a gun case on it with the butt end of a long gun protruding from it.
Michel began reaching for a knife on the bed and picked it up after an officer yelled, “Don’t touch it!” An officer yelled twice for Michel to put the knife down.
Investigators say Michel moved toward Sgt. Sean Sanborn as if to stab him and that’s when Whittenburg and Sgt. Dan Henthorn, who’s from the Coos Bay Police Department, each fired one shot.
Michel fell to the floor and dropped the knife. Investigators said even after he hit the floor, it appeared he tried to reach for the knife.
Michel was taken to a hospital where he died from his injuries.
Deputies found a rifle, ammunition, body armor and paraphernalia used to ingest methamphetamine in Michel’s room. They did not find a shotgun in either the motel room or the SUV. However, they did find a newly purchased shotgun cleaning kit for a 12-gauge shotgun.
Housekeeping staff at the motel told deputies that they had seen shotgun ammunition in one of the rooms Michel had rented.
Investigators also learned Michel had previously lived in a trailer with Townsend and her boyfriend. He moved out of the trailer about a year before Townsend was killed.
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“The investigation at this point puts Mr. Michel at or near the scene of Ms. Townsend’s death. The SUV in question belonged to Mr. Michel and the sole person driving or possession the SUV was Mr. Michel,” the district attorney said in a press release.
The investigation into Townsend’s murder is ongoing.
District Attorney Frasier said Michel has struggled with addiction for most of his life and has a criminal history.
Fraser said the physical force Detective Whittenburg and Sgt. Henthorne used against Michel was justified.