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Police release St. Charles-Bend confrontation video

By Kim Tobin
Published On: Dec 05 2012 08:26:52 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 06 2012 03:16:18 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Kim Tobin spoke with the wife of a man who died several days later after a confrontation with police at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend.

BEND, Ore. -

One day after Deschutes County DA Patrick Flaherty cleared a Bend police officer in a fateful confrontation outside St. Charles-Bend. police released security video of the scene and NewsChannel 21 talked with the man's widow, who is still asking questions.

The St. Charles surveillance video from the night of Aug. is a time lapse that has gaps where the video advances a few seconds forward.

Hospital staff said patient Jerry Nichols became aggressive in the emergency room, as his oxygen levels were low.

Nichols' wife, Barbara , says her husband suffered from a lung condition, PTSD from his time in Vietnam and dementia.

"I know what kind of person he was, because of what he had been through," she told NewsChannel 21 Wednesday. "If someone tried to grab him and hold onto him, he was going to fight back. He didn't want to be restrained."

In the video, Nichols can be seen walking up to a picnic table and sitting down.

After Bend police Officer Steve Craig pulled up and got out of his car, Nichols came toward him.

Police said Craig used his Taser, and while it worked, police reports said it was fired too close, and it didn't stop Nichols.

Craig then used an open hand strike to try to stop him, and he fell to the ground, soon suffering cardiac arrest.

"I said, 'You could have grabbed a hold of each one of his arms and someone could have came up behind him and restrained him, or someone could have held his legs," Barbara Nichols said. "There was no reason to do what was done to him, I don't think, at all."

As Nichols was lying on the ground, hospital staff rushed out and performed CPR. He then went into cardiac arrest. Nichols was in critical condition for eight days, and died after his family decided to remove him from life support.

"It's hard, and I miss him a lot," his wife said. "That's why I try and keep myself busy and I go to counseling once a week, to talk to someone about what's going on, just so I can get through the day some times."

DA Patrick Flaherty reviewed the case, determining the use of force by Officer Craig was lawful and justified.

But according to Nichols' wife, who is getting ready to spend her first Christmas without her husband, the work is not over.

"I don't want it to be left hanging," Barbara Nichols said. "He deserves that. He fought for our country, and that was really important to him."

Barbara said she does not know what comes next. She said more investigating needs to be done before she can make any decision about how to move forward legally.

"I don't know -- it just shouldn't have happened," said Barbara. "My daughter keeps telling me that, too. It just shouldn't have happened. He would be here right now if it hadn't. "

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