Fatal Shooting By Dps Officer In Hands Of County Attorney

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A decision on whether Department of Public Safety officer Jarom Lewis was justified in shooting 47-year-old James Moreland Sept. 25 south of Rye could soon be forthcoming.

According to DPS Sgt. John Whetten, investigators turned over their results to Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores in mid-January.

Whetten said he was told it would take the county attorney's office about a month to review the reports.

Flores said her staff has reviewed copies of the investigation and will decide whether to put the case before a grand jury for possible criminal charges. She would not speculate when that decision would be made.

Following a three-month investigation, DPS released the 400-page report of the fatal shooting.

In it, investigators wrote that they found no weapons in the suspect's car, but did find 3 grams of marijuana, a pipe and narcotic pills.

According to the report, driver Janice Worthington, 46, of Apache Junction, admitted the two stopped in Sunflower to smoke marijuana with friends.

Also in the report, Lewis said he was certain Moreland, who he described as having a "crazed look" in his eyes, was going to shoot him.

"I'm sure that this is it, I'm going to get shot," Lewis said. "I fired, boom, boom, boom, I'm thinking, ‘stop it, stop the threat.'"

Lewis stopped Worthington for speeding. The pair were headed to a friend's cabin and, according to the report, were clocked at about 90 mph by Lewis.

Whetten said Lewis suspected the two were carrying illegal drugs and received consent from Worthington to search the car.

"(Moreland) exited the vehicle and became very upset and belligerent. As he became more angry, he returned to the vehicle and reached inside," Whetten said. That's when Lewis fired the fatal shots.

Worthington later claimed that the fatal shooting of her boyfriend was completely unjustified and Moreland never gave the officer a legitimate reason to kill him.

Following the shooting, Worthington told the Roundup that Moreland never made a movement for something in the vehicle as Lewis had claimed.

"Jim had nothing in his hands and was not reaching for anything in the car," she said. "Jim was not carrying any kind of weapon and there were no weapons in the car."

She also disputed Lewis's claim that Moreland was "belligerent," and said he was a patient, loving man who never raised his voice.

Lewis is on paid administrative leave awaiting the county attorney's decision.

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