Justice Is Everyone's Business

Seeking to Restore Integrity and
Public Trust in Our Justice System

Justice will not be served until those who are
unaffected are as outraged as those who are.
—Benjamin Franklin

The Siege on Summer Street (Salem, Oregon 22 January 2019)

5. Targeting the Accused

This is the fifth of a seven-part story.

Police Ignored Product Warning of Risk to Human Life

The Salem Police Force's Incident Summary and Resolution states:

"It was theorized that based on the amount of chemical agent and fire smoke, that no one could survive inside the house and the suspect was either deceased or had made it out of the house somehow.  The only way the suspect could have escaped the houses is if he crawled out a basement window under the attached deck on the 3 side.  Coordination with IP elements on the 3 side was made to deploy and 25 under the deck, then gas."

Source: The Incident Summary and Resolution (Pgs. 02303- 02304)

Product Specifications of 4330 CS barricade projectiles contain this warning in bold type:

"One must be trained specifically in the deployment of barricade penetrating munitions and exercise extreme care and caution to minimize the possibility of this projectile striking a human opposite the barrier."

Source: Product Specification for (tear gas grenades)
4320 40MM CN Liquid Barricade, Spin Stabilized
4330 40MM CS Liquid Barricade, Spin Stabilized
4340 40MM OC Liquid Barricade, Spin Stabilized

So, then the SWAT Team — despite the warning on the Product Specifications (above) — deliberately shot tear gas grenades under the deck at the back of the house (the 3 side), on the presumption that Ketchem was hiding there.  What was the result?

One of these grenades struck and penetrated the torso of Kenneth Ketchem, causing his intestinal organs to spill out of the wound.  Immediate surgery was required to save his life.

"Ketchem had a large wound to the right side [of] his torso (at his belt line next to his groin).  I saw what appeared to be portions of his intestines sticking out of his wound.  The trauma surgeon providing care to Ketchem informed me that a 40mm projectile was still lodged in Ketchem's torso."

Source Det. Daniel Chase, Incident Supplement pg. 1 of 2, Bates 00120.

Ketchem being loaded into ambulence showing wound Ketchem being loaded into ambulence showing wound
Ketchem was loaded into an ambulence at the scene. The grenade, weighing a half pound and propelled at about 300 mph, lodged in Ketchem's abdomen, severly wounding him and exposing his internal organs. Click on an image to expand to full size.

Let us consider this event carefully.  The grenades and launchers used that morning were missiles designed to strike with sufficient force to penetrate solid barriers.  According to the specifications, the missile weighs about a half-pound and exits the launcher at 400 ft. per second, about 300 miles per hour.  Similar grenades were used more recently by the police in Iraq, striking the heads and bodies of protesters with fatal results. (Amnesty International: "Iraq: Iranian tear gas grenades among those causing gruesome protester deaths", cached)

If the police saw Ketchem under the deck, then shooting him with the grenade was a Class A Felony, Assault in the first degree (ORS 163.185).  If they did not see him, then firing the potentially deadly grenades into the area where they knew he was hiding was a Class B Misdemeanor, Negligently wounding another (ORS 166.180).

Here is the structure as it appeared from approximately the position of the grenade launcher. The distance from launcher to Ketchem was no more than 30 ft.

Kitchen / Alley
This is the rear of the house ("east" or "side 3") showing the deck as it was in 2019 during the incident.  Ketchem fled the flash-bang grenades, smoke grenades, tear gas, and fire inside the house by crawling out a basement window under the deck.  Knowing he was there, police fired three grenades at him through the latticework, wounding him in the abdomen.  Image: HD Open House (cached).