Mother: Salem officer justified in shooting 22-year-old son

Marion County

Grand jury cleared Salem officer in April 2, 2021 shooting

Authorities at the scene of an officer-involved shooting in Salem, April 2, 2021. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Marion County grand jury determined the Salem police officer who shot and killed Natzeryt Viertel on April 2 was justified in using deadly force. And his mother also said the officer had no choice.

That day, his mother, Jessica Rothgery, called 911 about her 22-year-old son. He had cut his wrist, had mental illness, wouldn’t take his medication and had been using meth, she said.

Read: Marion County DA release on OIS of April 2, 2021

Firefighters arrived a few minutes later and in quick order Viertel pointed a shotgun at one and pulled the trigger — but there was only a “click,” the Marion County District Attorney’s Office said in a release.

Over the next few minutes firefighters were able to pull back and police arrived. Viertel ducked behind a minivan, then rushed toward police with the shotgun in his hands. One of the responding officers fired and hit Viertel in the chest.

During the grand jury, Rothgery testified the Salem officer “had no choice, based on her son’s actions, but to use deadly force against her son,” the DA’s office said.

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