On Tuesday July 22, 2010, a Montgomery County Grand Jury determined that Montgomery County Sheriff Deputy Margarito Rosales was justified in using deadly force against Matthew Wayne Rife in a shooting that occurred on May 11th, 2010. Deputy Rosales observed a suspicious vehicle in the Timber Lakes section of Spring Texas in the early morning hours of May 11th. Officers were in the area in response to an earlier disturbance and a fleeing suspect. Mr. Rife was observed operating a vehicle in a suspicious manner, making erratic turns and idling in driveways with the lights of his vehicle off, and was approached by Deputy Rosales after pulling into a driveway.
According to his passenger, Mr. Rife gave a false name to Deputy Rosales because he was afraid that his probation for Aggravated Assault out of Harris County, Texas had been revoked and there was a warrant for his arrest. Dispatch informed Deputy Rosales that the name Mr. Rife gave belonged to an individual with a concealed handgun permit. Deputy Rosales obtained consent to search the vehicle and located a marijuana smoking pipe. Deputy Rosales and a backup officer then attempted to handcuff both Rife and his passenger in order to secure them during a more thorough search of the vehicle. While Mr. Rife’s passenger complied with the deputy’s instructions, Mr. Rife began to resist and refused to cooperate. After several attempts were made to handcuff Mr. Rife, Deputy Rosales deployed his taser. The taser had no effect and Mr. Rife began to flee the scene on foot.
Deputy Rosales tackled Mr. Rife after a short foot chase. During the struggle, Mr. Rife managed to get on top of Deputy Rosales and began to strike him in the face with his fists. Deputy Rosales felt Mr. Rife attempt to take his weapon. Deputy Rosales rolled away from Mr. Rife and fired his weapon, striking Mr. Rife four times. Mr. Rife was pronounced dead at the scene.
An autopsy revealed that Mr. Rife had an unusually high amount of methamphetamines and amphetamines in his system. Mr. Rife had a significant criminal history including violent and assaultive priors. He was on felony probation out of Harris County for Aggravated Assault at the time of the shooting.
“Deputy Rosales was put into a no win situation by Mr. Rife’s actions,” said District Attorney Brett Ligon. “He could either let his weapon be taken from him by a violent suspect or protect himself and his fellow officer. We obviously feel for the Rife family and sympathize with their loss, but it is clear that Deputy Rosales had no choice under these circumstances and his actions were justified.”