Betsy Swanback

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June 24, 2013
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Roseburg man dies in police custody in front of Douglas County Courthouse

A 56-year-old Roseburg man hit with pepper spray and shocked with a Taser died in police custody Saturday in front of the Douglas County Courthouse, the sheriff’s office said today.

He was the second man to die in recent months in custody in Douglas County. Walter Ray McKelvey, 26, died in the custody of sheriff’s deputies March 3 in Canyonville.

The sheriff’s office said today it was withholding the name of the man who died Saturday until next of kin can be notified.

Roseburg police responded around 3:15 p.m. Saturday to a report of a man jumping on vehicles and causing damage near the corner of Kane Street and Douglas Avenue.

The man refused to obey police when officers attempted to arrest him, sheriff’s spokesman Dwes Hutson said.

The officers used pepper spray and a Taser to subdue the man. The man stopped breathing, and officers began CPR. Emergency medical workers responded, but efforts to revive the man were unsuccessful.

An autopsy is scheduled this week at the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office in Clackamas.

McKelvey’s death is still under investigation, District Attorney Rick Wesenberg said. The multi-agency Douglas County Major Crimes Team is investigating the incident.

Authorities believe McKelvey called 911 to report two men were harassing him in the 100 block of Main Street.

Deputies who responded said McKelvey became erratic and ran into traffic before deputies restrained him. McKelvey then collapsed.

Roseburg police, which headed the investigation into McKelvey’s death, declined to describe what methods deputies used to restrain McKelvey.

Wesenberg said his office is still waiting for the medical examiner’s report on McKelvey’s death.

He said the Saturday incident will likely follow a similar process.

• You can reach reporter Betsy Swanback at 541-957-4208 or by email at

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The News-Review Updated Jun 25, 2013 01:07PM Published Jun 26, 2013 06:53AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.