On Friday, a man was shot and killed by Washington County Sheriff’s deputies in a field near Sherwood after the deputies rammed his truck with an armored vehicle. The man, identified as 54-year-old Remi Sabbe of Tigard, allegedly fired shots from an AR-style rifle during an initial encounter with a Sherwood police officer around 1:00pm, according to a press release from the WCSO. The press release does not specify if Sabbe fired at the officer.
The officer was responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle in a field near the intersection of Roy Rogers Road and Scholls-Sherwood Road in a rural area near the Tualatin River. The inter-agency Washington County Tactical Negotiations Team (TNT) and Crisis Negotiation Unit were called to assist. The TNT is, in words of WCSO Public Information Officer Jeff Talbot, “our SWAT.” At 3:30pm they tried to make contact with Sabbe. Helicopter video taken by KATU News shows a light armored vehicle known as a Bearcat chasing Sabbe’s pickup truck in wide curves around a muddy field and ramming it several times until it stops. A deputy then opens the roof hatch and fires several shots into the passenger side of the pickup. Sabbe was declared dead on the scene, still in the driver’s seat. It is unclear how many deputies fired their weapons, though multiple officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, as per county policy, and their names have not yet been released.
Little is known about Remi Sabbe at this point, and even less about the immediate circumstances of his death.
Court records show that he pleaded guilty to reckless driving in 1993, to failure to perform the duties of a driver in 2006, and to DUII in 2008, with several other driving-related court appearances in between. He had no record of violent behavior.
KATU news reported yesterday that Sabbe’s family owns the plot of land he was shot on, and that an unnamed family member claimed that Sabbe did not commit a crime.
It is unknown if Sabbe had a history of mental health crises, was experiencing one at the time, or if he was under the influence.
As for the armored vehicle used by the county deputies, it is unclear from the video, and available information, if it is a military or police vehicle. KBOO checked records relating to the 1033 program, which allows the Department of Defense to sell surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies. For example, in 2013, Clackamas County purchased a mine-resistant vehicle from the Army for $658,000.
Washington County has not purchased any armored vehicles through the program, at least through 2013, when the program was suspended by the Obama administration. The 1033 program has, however, been revived under Trump, and it is unknown if Washington County has bought or received anything from it in that time.
The vehicle used on Friday does bear a resemblance to vehicles used by SWAT and crowd control units across the country, many of them purchased from private suppliers.
That does not explain the need for such a vehicle on Friday, however.
It also does not explain the seeming inactivity of the Crisis Negotiation Unit, which according to its website is tasked with creating a “peaceful resolution to often extremely volatile situations.”
--Sam Bouman & Jasmin Moneymaker, KBOO Portland