On April 13, at 9:30 p.m., Deputy Justin DeRosier with the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office in Kelso, Washington, responded to a report of an incident involving a motor home blocking a road near Interstate 5.
Shortly after arriving on the scene, he called in to say he’d been shot. Backup soon arrived and he was LifeFlighted to the Vancouver PeaceHealth Medical Center.
“I stood guard for a little bit to make sure [the suspect] didn’t come around,” nearby resident Mark MacKinnon told KATU2. He told reporters he’d heard as many as six shots ring out on Saturday night.
“You hear gunshots a lot out here, and you don’t think about it,” another neighbor, Wyatt James, said. “You never think that bullet is going into someone. It wasn’t necessary, there is no reason for it.”
By the following day, two suspects were in custody and one was shot and killed, according to KATU2.
The 29-year-old deputy passed away shortly after arriving at the Medical Center. His death was the first the 165-year-old sheriff’s office had ever suffered.
“Regrettably, the deputy succumbed to his injuries a short time after arriving,” Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office reported.
The young deputy had always wanted to be in the line of duty. He left behind a wife and new daughter.
“There are few cops who want to be cops more than Justin did,” Darren Ullmann, an undersheriff with Cowlitz County, said. “He loved his job, and he was incredibly good at it. Five-month-old Lily is always going to know what an incredible man her father was.”
One woman has stepped forward to prove just how good a man DeRosier was. She’s shared her own dark story with the world to honor the man whose life was taken.
Sheina Dewoody met DeRosier under less-than-ideal circumstances in June 2018, when she was in a bad place.
“I was a wanted fugitive, and I had drugs, and I was high,” she told KATU2. “It wasn’t good. Rock bottom was when I took Cowlitz County deputies from Longview to almost Portland in a high-speed chase.
“I went through downtown Vancouver, almost hit people, had blown out tires and everything, but kept going. It was bad.”
DeRosier was the one who arrested her, but instead of dealing with her brusquely, he made her swear she’d get clean. Part of the deal was that when she was released from jail, she’d prove to him that she was sober.
While she never got that chance, her life is different now — and she credits DeRosier with her current status: back with her family, working a job and living life without drugs.
“He treated people like they were humans, not many people do that,” she said. “Life is amazing. I want to live now actually. I didn’t before, but I do now.”
“Thank you. You saved my life, changed my life. I don’t really want to cry, but I am,” she added. “I don’t think I’d be where I am today if it wasn’t for him.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.