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Ore. police defend officers' decision to leave fallen cop at scene

The officers could have put themselves in danger by aiding a fellow officer while the suspect was still armed

By PoliceOne Staff

OREGON CITY — Oregon City police have concluded their investigation into the shooting death of an officer-in-training who waited 90 minutes for an ambulance after he was ambushed in front of the suspect’s home. The department agreed that responding officers made the right choice not coming to his aid because they believed he was killed instantly and the threat was still armed and present.

Robert Libke, 41, was shot while responding to a house fire set by 88-year-old armed homeowner Lawrence Cambra.

Robert Libke. (Photo courtesy Oregon City Police)
Robert Libke. (Photo courtesy Oregon City Police)

According to the Republic, a video taken by a neighbor which has not been released shows Libke approaching the fence of the home and ordering Cambra, to drop his weapon.

Cambra fired, striking Libke above his right eyebrow. Libke fell and responding officers assumed by the amounts of blood and lack of movement that he had died instantly.

 It wasn't until a SWAT team arrived and witnessed Libke move his arm that they switched from a recovery mission to a rescue mission, according to the report.

"It's a gray area," Oregon City Police Chief Jim Band said of the officers’ decision. "You make a plan based on what you know. It depends on what you could see."

Dr. Seth Izenberg, the physician who tried to stabilize Libke, said the arm movement SWAT saw could have been a change in the pH of the muscle and believed Libke would have died regardless of the 90 minute delay.

Band agreed that the officers’ decision not to come to Libke’s aid may have saved their own lives, according to the report.

Cambra shot himself in the chest with a handgun just as SWAT members opened fire, killing himself.

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