Family of slain police chief grieves loss

Family of slain police chief grieves loss »Play Video
Kathy Painter holds a picture of her son, Police Chief Ralph Painter, who was shot and killed Wednesday morning during a struggle with a man who police say was taking a vehicle that didn't belong to him.

RAINIER, Ore. – The family of slain Rainier police chief, Ralph Painter, said Wednesday night that Painter always wanted to be a police officer and worked his way to the top to be one.

Painter’s mother, Kathy, said she still can’t believe he’s gone. Family members broke the news to her that her son had been shot.

“That was a big shock, because I still had hope, hope that he’d make it, but he didn’t,” she said.

The 55-year-old chief of police responded to a disturbance call late Wednesday morning at the Rainier Sound Authority car audio shop on Rock Crest Street. Once there he struggled with 21-year-old Daniel Armaugh Butts of Kalama, Wash. who police said was taking a vehicle that didn’t belong to him.

In the struggle, Butts shot and killed Painter, police said. Butts was taken to a Portland hospital and is expected to survive.

Kathy Painter said she doesn’t know how their family, including his wife, Amy, and 7-year-old son, Riley, will go on.

“I hurt not only because he was my son – one of my babies – but I hurt for her because he’s got a little boy that worships his dad,” she said.

Painter’s youngest brother, Manuel, was addicted to meth and said the only reason he’s four years sober is because of his big brother’s help.

“He used my story to help a lot of other people to get into recovery,” Manuel Painter said.

While Manuel was in recovery, Painter raised his nephew, Joshua, who said people may expect them to be angry when they simply aren’t.

“We don’t have enemies,” Joshua Painter said. “We learned to forgive those who hurt us because we know that at the end, everybody gets what’s coming to them.”

Now the family has to say goodbye to a protector who loved the community he swore to serve and protect.

“He loved people,” Kathy Painter said. “He really, really, really loved and he trusted people.”

The family said that Painter was already thinking about retirement and hoped to teach young cadets one day. On Wednesday night, they were still trying to figure out the details of his memorial.

Suspect's father says chief didn't deserve to die

Meanwhile, the suspect’s father, Mikel Butts, said the chief of police didn’t deserve to die and just can’t understand what happened.

Butts’ father, sister, neighbors and even someone who worked with him, all said it was out of character for him to have done this.

Butts’ Facebook page reveals an admiration for cars and a post about recently losing his job. At their Kalama home, his father said Butts, an intelligent young man who could fix anything, was trying to find a good job and be a good man.

“My son has been paying property taxes and lights and water bill, and a worker, and I don’t know where this came from,” the elder Butts said.

Butts’ mother, Della Bartley, said there was no excuse for her son’s behavior.

“That is why I know it was drugs, because this kid was straight on,” said Bartley.

Contrary to what people say, her son is not a “meth head,” she said. “That is not accurate. That is a lie. He was on drugs two days ago when he came to my house, I could tell.”

She said she never thought her son was capable of doing drugs let alone shooting someone.

Court and police records show Butts has been arrested for malicious mischief, driving under the influence, negligent driving, twice for reckless driving, driving with a suspended license and several more speeding violations.

Butts’ father said his son was on a new path, which is why he can’t understand these allegations. Twice, tears came to his eyes while he sent his condolences to the Painter family.

“Ralph didn’t deserve to die, and I’m sorry for his family,” he said.

Butts’ father said his son was clean and sober since the end of August. He said he has been kept in the dark about his son’s condition since he was taken to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland.