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Crime Salem man found guilty of shooting, trying to murder policewoman

00:00  13 december  2019
00:00  13 december  2019 Source:   statesmanjournal.com

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A Salem man was found guilty Thursday of shooting a veteran Salem policewoman four times during a nighttime traffic stop on April 14.

Jaime Lee Jimenez, 39, was found guilty of premeditated, attempted aggravated murder following a stipulated facts trial before Marion County Judge Thomas Hart.

He also pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree assault, illegal possession of a firearm by a felon and dealing methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school.

a man in a black shirt: Jaime Lee Jimenez, 38, appears for arraignment at the Marion County Court Annex in Salem May 16, 2019, after allegedly shooting a Salem Police officer multiple times on Tuesday night. The Salem resident is facing charges of attempted murder, second-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon, and illegal possession of a firearm by a felon. The judge ordered that he be held without bail.© ANNA REED / STATESMAN JOURNAL Jaime Lee Jimenez, 38, appears for arraignment at the Marion County Court Annex in Salem May 16, 2019, after allegedly shooting a Salem Police officer multiple times on Tuesday night. The Salem resident is facing charges of attempted murder, second-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon, and illegal possession of a firearm by a felon. The judge ordered that he be held without bail.

Officer Michelle Pratt was patrolling solo when she pulled over a minivan being driven by Jimenez around 8:30 p.m. on the 500 block of Highland Avenue NE.

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He ended up exiting the courtroom as the verdicts were read. Brandon Simmons reports.

Jimenez, a convicted felon, had an active warrant out for his arrest for a domestic violence incident.

Pratt pulled over Jimenez after running his license plate. The minivan he was driving was connected to an area property theft.

Unbeknownst to her, Jimenez had almost 24 grams of methamphetamine, a scale and drug packaging materials in the vehicle with him.

A loaded .45-caliber handgun was tucked underneath his leg. When Pratt pulled him over, he told his female passenger, "Oh, here we go."

Previous coverage: Tourniquet, ballistic vest save life of veteran Salem Police officer during traffic stop

Pratt requested a second unit after the passenger of the van exited the vehicle. She approached the vehicle and talked with Jimenez and the woman for about 45 seconds.

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Suddenly, Jimenez attacked her, shooting her at close range and driving away.

Pratt was shot in her back, left arm and both legs. Her ballistic vest stopped the bullet in her back.

She ran to her patrol vehicle for cover, then radioed for help and self-administered a tourniquet until other officers arrived.

The female passenger remained at the scene.

Police officials recounted how she calmly gave a suspect description and told dispatch where he'd fled.

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The shooting triggered an hours-long search and standoff.

Jimenez drove four blocks north on Broadway before abandoning the minivan.

As Pratt was taken to Salem Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds, about 100 officers, including members of Salem's SWAT team and those from neighboring police departments, swarmed the neighborhood.

Nearby streets, including Broadway Street NE, were closed as officers searched the area with dogs and advised residents to stay inside and lock their doors.

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"This is a manhunt now and a matter of public safety," Salem police spokesman Lt. Treven Upkes said the night of the shooting. "If they are willing to shoot at a police officer, they'll be willing to shoot at others."

After more than four hours of K-9 searching and several more hours following leads, police tracked Jimenez to the East Broadway Apartments and negotiated with him via megaphone and phone. Witnesses reported seeing police using an explosive to blast open the door of the upstairs apartment.

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The Mobile Command Unit was set up at Highland Elementary School, which was closed the entire day after the shooting.

"There were cops everywhere, at least 25 cars here, three SWAT trucks, the bomb squad and that RV thing," Luke Slaughter told the Statesman Journal. "We didn't know what was going on."

Jimenez was in handcuffs just before 9 a.m. the next day after an hour of negotiations. Amanda Cayetano, 35, of Salem, who had fled to the apartment with Jimenez, was also taken into custody.

Pratt was released from the hospital the morning after the shooting.

Suspect had prior violent history

Jimenez was charged with attempted aggravated murder, four counts of second-degree assault, illegal possession of a firearm by a felon, delivery of methamphetamine and delivery of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school.

Cayetano was charged with vehicle theft and hindering prosecution.

According to court records, Jimenez had a more than a decade-long criminal history of domestic violence assault convictions and methamphetamine use.

In 2002, he was convicted of harassment and first-degree criminal trespass.

A string of arrests and convictions followed, including a 2002 conviction on two counts of fourth-degree domestic violence assault, a 2004 conviction for menacing, and convictions in 2008, 2010 and 2012 for methamphetamine possession.

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He was arrested for strangling a Salem woman in 2017, but he was acquitted by a Polk County jury.

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Jimenez was accused of strangling and assaulting the same woman in December 2018. A grand jury indicted him on three counts of fourth-degree assault and one count of strangulation constituting domestic violence.

A warrant was issued for his arrest on April 16.

Initially identified as living in Woodburn, Jimenez has been a longtime Salem resident. Court records and the warrant list a north Salem address less than a mile from where the shooting took place.

Prosecutors said this history demonstrated Jimenez's persistent involvement in crime and his actions proved he was a threat to public safety.

During his arraignment two days after the shooting, a judge ordered that Jimenez be held without bail, deeming him a flight risk and a risk to public safety.

Officer's composure praised

Pratt was one of a few local law enforcement officers shot in the line of duty in recent history.

A Dallas Police officer was shot in the leg while investigating a DUII incident in the Dallas Walmart parking lot in 2016.

A Salem Police officer was shot once and injured during a 2012 incident involving a man fleeing in a stolen car in Benton County.

Upkes described the hours following the shooting as being filled with a mix of emotions for the agency. The shooting struck "on how dangerous this job can be, but it highlighted the resilience of our agency," he said.

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a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Officer Michelle Pratt, a seven-year veteran on the force, sustained non-life-threatening injuries, and is now recovering at home.© Photo courtesy of the Salem Police Department Officer Michelle Pratt, a seven-year veteran on the force, sustained non-life-threatening injuries, and is now recovering at home.

Salem Police Chief Jerry Moore lauded Pratt's professionalism, courage, composure and quick reaction during the shooting.

"We know that in policing there is no such thing as a routine traffic stop — and, yet, every day our officers put on their uniform and protect this community no matter the call," Moore said in a statement.

Pratt, 51, has been described as a veteran of the department. She was hired in July 2012, but she's been part of the Salem Police family much longer.

She joined the department in 2005 as a volunteer advocate on the Domestic Violence Response Team and later worked as a community service officer.

In June, Pratt was awarded a Purple Heart award for her service. She remains assigned to the patrol division.

Defendant waives jury trial

Three days before Jimenez was scheduled to stand trial, he waived his right to a jury trial. Instead, he signed a motion agreeing to a series of facts summarized by prosecutors.

Judge Hart asked Jimenez Thursday whether he'd been in any trouble since he was taken to jail on May 15.

"None at all, your honor," Jimenez said, then confirmed he was clear-headed enough to plead guilty to the bulk of the charges.

a group of people standing in a kitchen: Jaime Lee Jimenez, 39, was found guilty of trying to murder a Salem police officer on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019.© WHITNEY WOODWORTH/Statesman Journal Jaime Lee Jimenez, 39, was found guilty of trying to murder a Salem police officer on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019.

After reviewing a summary of the facts, two surveillance videos of the shooting and the police report, Hart found Jimenez guilty of deliberately, and with premeditation, trying to murder Pratt during the course of her official duties as a police officer.

Jimenez told his attorney he did not know he had a warrant out for his arrest at the time. But he did have a felony amount of methamphetamine and was selling drugs near an elementary school.

"I know a lot of people would not want to get caught with that much dope in their car," Hart said.

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He found that Jimenez had enough time to think, and his decision to shoot wasn't made split-second.

"You made that choice," Hart said. "It's kind of a no-brainer when I'm looking at the smoke coming out of the end of the gun."

He ordered that Jimenez be held without bail pending his sentencing. Jimenez was handcuffed and led away by a deputy.

His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 31.

For questions, comments and news tips, email reporter Whitney Woodworth at wmwoodwort@statesmanjournal.com, call 503-399-6884 or follow on Twitter @wmwoodworth

This article originally appeared on Salem Statesman Journal: Salem man found guilty of shooting, trying to murder policewoman

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