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Suspect Escapes Custody After Arrest For Trying To Murder Officer

Portland, OR – Police are searching for a man who escaped from a holding cell after he allegedly rammed his vehicle into a Portland police officer twice, nearly killing her.

David Michael Dahlen, 24, is a white male who stands approximate five feet, eight inches tall, and weighs around 170 pounds, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) said in a press release on Saturday.

He was last seen wearing jeans, a long-sleeved green shirt, white tennis shoes, and had a “noticeable amount of dried mud on his clothing,” the PPB noted.

Dahlen is wanted for second-degree escape, attempted murder, assaulting a public safety officer, assault, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

According to police, officers initially tried to apprehend Dahlen on Dec. 24, when they spotted him driving a stolen pickup, The Oregonian reported.

As they tried to box him in at the 76 gas station at the corner of Cesar Chavez Boulevard and Southeast Powell Boulevard, the suspect allegedly hit the gas and rammed into PPB Officer Jennifer Pierce, who was outside her patrol vehicle at the time, police said.

After using the stolen truck to pin the injured officer against her patrol vehicle, Dahlen then backed up and hit Officer Pierce a second time, a witness told The Oregonian.

That’s when Officer Pierce drew her duty weapon and fired at her attacker.

Dahlen, who wasn’t hit, sped away from the scene in the stolen truck, which he later abandoned in Southeast Portland, according to police.

Investigators said the truck had been stolen from an auto shop days before, The Oregonian reported.

Officer Pierce, a 15-year veteran of the PPB, was rushed to a local hospital with a fractured pelvis, KOMO reported.

PPB East Precinct officers located Dahlen in the area of Southeast Insley Street and Southeast 101st Avenue at approximately 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and took him into custody “after a short foot pursuit,” the department said in the press release.

He was then transported to the Detective Division at the Justice Center on Southwest 2nd Avenue to be interviewed.

But a few hours later, detectives discovered Dahlen had escaped from the holding cell police had left him in, the PPB said.

The building was immediately locked down and additional resources were called in,” the department said. “It was later confirmed that Dahlen had gotten out of the building and was last seen running north.”

Police said they do not have a reason to believe Dahlen “presents a direct threat to the community,” but they did ask for the public to help locate him.

Investigators later determined Dahlen escaped after two members of a contracted cleaning crew failed to fully latch the door to Dahlen’s holding cell during a cleaning, the PPB said in a press release on Monday afternoon.

“The protocol during the pandemic has been to do daily enhanced cleaning and disinfecting to protect suspects who are being held in those rooms,” the department said. “One of the cleaning crew members opened the door to the holding room, then closed it again after they realized the room was occupied.”

“Preliminary investigations leave investigators to believe that the door did not fully latch after it was closed,” the statement continued. “Sometime after the cleaning crew members left, investigators believe Dahlen pushed the door from the inside, found it to be insecure, and got out.”

The would-be cop-killer then made his way to a stairway that is left unlocked for fire safety reasons, and fled through a door on the south side of the building.

The PPB said it is conducting “a comprehensive internal review” of its procedures regarding holding cells to help “prevent anything like this from happening again.”

Dahlen’s criminal history dates back to at least 2013, according to KOMO.

He has previously been arrested on charges of careless driving contributing to a crash, theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, unauthorized use of a vehicle, and driving under the influence of intoxicants.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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