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Body cam footage: A grand jury cleared this officer in the shooting of a jaywalker

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BY GEORGIA LAWSON

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. (KTVL) — The district attorney for Oregon's Jackson County released body camera footage from a September officer-involved shooting on Friday.

Officer Daniel Cardenas fatally shot Matthew Graves on Sept. 19 in the bathroom of the Eagle Point Carl's Jr. restaurant.

During this week's grand jury proceedings, Cardenas testified that backup Officer CJ Davis alerted him to what he thought was Graves holding a firearm, but that actually turned out to be Cardenas' own Taser.

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Cardenas fired two shots, killing Graves. Five of the seven jurors concluded that the officer's actions did not violate the law. The Eagle Point Police Department conducted an internal investigation into the shooting and found no wrongful action on the part of the officers involved.

Southern Oregon University criminal justice professor Tiffany Morey says that even with body camera video, what the public sees afterward may be different than what the officer feels in the moment.

"When it goes to grand jury to see if it was a justified shooting, it is what that officer was experiencing at that time," Morey said. "What did the officer see? What did the officer feel? Did the officer feel that their life, or possibly one of the citizens that they're protecting's life was at jeopardy?"

She says that body cameras can shed meaningful light on an incident and should be used, but it must be remembered that they only capture action at one angle, and can't always convey what the officer perceives in the moment.

A use-of-force expert who testified echoed that notion, saying that the adrenaline can impact an officer's ability to process information, and it is reasonable that in the moment a taser could be mistaken for a gun.

Cardenas and Davis are cleared to go back to work and the case is closed.

The body cam footage was released unedited, however KTVL chose not to show the second half of the video due to its graphic nature. The first 4 minutes, 44 seconds of the video play uninterrupted with only the audible swearing bleeped over. A complete transcript of Officer Cardenas' body camera was also written.

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