Family plans to sue over March shooting in Ontario highway chase

ONTARIO – The family of a 25-year-old Ontario man who was shot to death by Oregon State Police troopers earlier this year has notified the state of its intent to sue for $6 million in damages. 

Victor Morales Zavala was killed March 14 after leading officers on a high-speed chase in Idaho and into Ontario. The incident ended on East Idaho Avenue near the railroad underpass after officers used spike strips to blow out all four tires on the car Morales Zavala was driving. 

According to police dash cam footage reviewed by Malheur County District Attorney Dave Goldthorpe, Morales Zavala got out of the vehicle holding a .22-caliber revolver to his head. 

Morales Zavala was then shot four times; one bullet was deadly, hitting him in the chest. 

Goldthorpe concluded in March that the shooting was justified. He said that he reviewed three police car dash cam videos, autopsy results, as well as interviews and documents. Two troopers were put on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation.


An amended tort claim filed with the state Sept. 16 said that the family intends to sue for excessive use of force and wrongful death.

The claim further states they are filing these claims as a result of the “actions of the Oregon State police.”

Morales Zavala’s family or its attorney, Doug Rock of Ontario, did not respond to messages from the Enterprise seeking comment.

Friends and family described Morales Zavala as hardworking and caring. He had started attending church and left behind an episode of drug use, a close friend told the Enterprise in March. At the time of his death, a friend said Morales Zavala was intending to move to Nevada. 

Have a news tip? Reporter Yadira Lopez: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.

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