NEWPORT — On Wednesday, the Lincoln County District Attorney released the name of a man shot and injured by a sheriff’s deputy two weeks ago, as well as the names of the deputies involved, concluding that the use of force was justified.
In a Wednesday press release, District Attorney Lanee Danforth said Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Zachary Akin “acted under the entirely reasonable belief” that a man armed with a rifle was “using or about to use deadly physical force.”
Akin responded with Deputy Douglas Honse shortly before 8 a.m. on Sept. 1 to a residential street across Highway 101 from the Newport Municipal Airport in South Beach. Two 911 callers reported that their neighbor, later identified as Kevan Rower, 59, was standing on Southwest Abalone Street pointing a rifle at houses.
According to Danforth’s release, the deputies parked east on Southwest 82nd Street and approached Abalone, where they saw Rower in the middle of the street about 30 yards away from them, facing their direction and holding a long gun.
“Kevan, put the gun on the ground OK, so we can talk to you,” Honse said, according to Danforth, who reviewed the deputies’ body camera footage.
Keeping his rifle pointed at the ground, Akin yelled, “Drop the gun … Drop the gun, man.” The deputy then raised his rifle, and his partner yelled another command for Rower to drop his weapon. Rower took several steps forward and pointed his gun directly at Akin, according to Danforth.
“Deputy Akin quickly pointed his rifle at Rower and fired 13 rounds,” the press release reads. As the deputies radioed “shots fired,” Rower fled to his nearby driveway. Honse and Akin followed, repeating commands to drop the gun. Rower eventually complied and sat in his driveway with his hands up.
After another deputy helped secure Rower, he was taken to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis, where he was treated for three gunshot wounds to the left calf, left thigh and right buttock.
Abalone Street was closed for several hours as authorities canvassed the area and collected evidence. That afternoon, they searched Rower’s residence.
The shooting investigation was led by the Oregon State Police Major Crimes Section, which investigates officer-involved shootings per Lincoln County’s Deadly Physical Force Plan, and the multi-agency Lincoln County Major Crime Team also investigated the incident.
The district attorney said she carefully reviewed all body camera footage, photographs, 911 recordings and dispatch reports, as well as interviews with three witnesses who said they saw Rower point his rifle at deputies before shots were fired. Honse and Akin both told investigators they believed they were in immediate danger, and Akin said he feared for his life. Akin is one of two sheriff’s office K-9 handlers, partnering with German shepherd Ghost.
Danforth said Rower was no longer in need of urgent medical care, and her office “is still reviewing what, if any, criminal charges will be filed against” him. She said she would not yet release the body camera footage to the public to protect the integrity of a potential criminal case.
“All reports will be available to the public under Oregon public record laws after the conclusion of the criminal case,” Danforth said.