Ore. trooper shot 12 times files $30M negligence lawsuit

By Maxine Bernstein The Oregonian

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ore. — A state trooper shot 12 times by a murder suspect is suing Washington County's 911 system, the sheriff and others, contending dispatchers failed to alert officers that James Tylka was armed, suicidal and had just shot his wife when they radioed for police to find him on Dec. 25, 2016.

Nic Cederberg, the only state trooper patrolling in Washington County, lacked critical information when he made tactical decisions to chase Tylka "that he would not otherwise have made, was exposed and subjected to an unanticipated lethal attack and suffered critical, life threatening and permanently disabling injuries,'' the federal suit says.

Cederberg also contends that a Washington County sheriff's deputy should have arrested Tylka a month earlier after his estranged wife reported receiving harassing calls from Tylka threatening to kill her and harm her new boyfriend.

The negligence suit also names Legacy Meridian Hospital as a defendant, alleging an emergency room doctor failed to hold Tylka there for mental health treatment when he attempted suicide by overdosing on insulin on Nov. 30, 2016.

Cederberg is seeking $20.6 million in damages for past and future pain and loss of his quality of life. His wife, Portland police Officer Haley Shelton, who provided five months of around-the- clock care for her husband, is seeking $10 million in damages.

Kelly Dutra, director of Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency, said Tuesday she couldn't comment about the pending litigation.

Tylka shot and killed his wife, Katelyn Tyla, in front of his parents' home in King City about 10:15 p.m. on Christmas Day 2016. Tyla had just arrived to transfer care of their infant daughter to him.

Twenty minutes later, Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency issued a countywide call for all law enforcement to find a white Mitsubishi driven by Tylka.

Cederberg contends county dispatch supervisors and call-takers knew Tylka was armed and suicidal but didn't alert officers on at least two of the Sheriff's Office radio channels, which he monitored.

Washington County dispatch supervisors entered information into the county's computer-aided dispatch – separate from its radio channels – that said Tylka was wanted as a homicide suspect and was suicidal, but Cederberg said he was unaware of those details, according to the suit.

About the same time, Cederberg had alerted the county dispatch that he was on the call about 10:40 a.m., but no one made sure that he was aware of Tylka's potential threat as he chased after Tylka's car, the suit says.

Cederberg spotted Tylka's car and chased it down a narrow, dark and largely isolated rural road. At the dead end, Tylka turned his car around and rammed the trooper's car and engaged in a furious shootout. Cederberg was shot a dozen times and Tylka shot himself in the head, killing himself as other officers arrived.

According to the suit, Cederberg sustained severe and permanently disabling physical injuries, as well as emotional pain, suffering, fear, anxiety and distress. Cederberg filed the suit Monday afternoon.

Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett said his office couldn't comment on the lawsuit but issued a brief statement Tuesday: "Trooper Cederberg acted heroically on the evening of Dec. 25, 2016. We recognize the sacrifices he made to protect our community that night and the sacrificies he has made throughout his career. We continue to send our best wishes to Trooper Cederberg and his family.''

Cederberg remains a trooper with state police, working a modified assignment to accommodate his recovery, state police Capt. Timothy Fox said.

Read the lawsuit here.