Lydia Warren, Daily Mail (London), October 4, 2013
A dashboard camera in a state trooper’s car has captured the dramatic moment a father taking his children on a road trip pulled out a gun and shot an officer who then returned fire and killed him.
John Van Allen, 34, was driving with three of his children when he was pulled over on Interstate 84 east of Portland, Oregon by Trooper Matt Zistel, 26, for speeding.
But what was supposed to be a routine traffic stop soon escalated into violence when Van Allen emerged from the car and, despite Zistel urging him to get back inside, pulled out a gun.
The dramatic footage was released to The Oregonian after a public information request from the paper following the August 29 death.
‘Please sit back in the car for me, you were speeding,’ Zistel can be heard telling Van Allen. ‘Sir, get back in the car for me now. Sir, please get back in the car for me. You were speeding.’
But Van Allen moves quickly towards Zistel before shooting at him several times. He then moves around the police car’s hood, still firing.
After several seconds, he heads back to his car, a black Cadillac, and drives off as Zistel desperately calls for help.
‘Shots fired, I’ve been hit in the side, I’m okay,’ Zistel says. ‘Suspect left.’
Even though Van Allen was hit in the chest in the exchange of fire, he does not appear to be injured as he returns to his car.
Responding officers found Zistel suffering a non-life-threatening gunshot wound and came across Allen’s car on the shoulder of the freeway half a mile away.
He was dead inside, with a gunshot wound to the chest. Three of his five children – a 10-year-old girl and two boys, aged 13 and 15 – were also at the scene but they were not hurt.
The three children were taken into the care of the Department of Human Services.
Zistel was treated for his wound and released. He has been on paid leave and will continue to be until he is well enough to return to work.
In a later investigation, Sherman County District Attorney Wade McLeod said that Zistel was justified in shooting Allen, The Oregonian reported.
Relatives said Allen, a father of five and an Army Reserve veteran who worked as a construction engineer between 2009 and 2012, was returning to his native South Carolina at the time of shooting.
He was caught traveling at 76 mph in a construction zone before he was pulled over.
His family said it was out of his character for him to pull a gun on an officer.
‘He would have never shot at a police official or anyone of the law,’ his cousin, Will Wright III, said. ‘He would not have missed the kill shot either.’