People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Police Shoot at 4; Some of Dow's Killers Get Commendations There have been a number of incidents involving deadly force and the Portland Police Bureau since we published our April issue. In two of the most recent cases, officers were wounded during their interactions with members of the public.
* On July 15, David Cassel, 38, allegedly shot himself during a standoff with Portland Police. Cassel, according to the July 18 Oregonian, was a paramedic who had responded to the July, 1984 shooting spree in a McDonald's restaurant in California. Responding to a call that Cassel was suicidal, Officer Sze Lai came to his door and was met with gunfire; Lai was shot twice in the arm and was recovering well at last report. Two of the three officers responding with Lai have interesting family ties: one was Kathleen Pluchos, wife of the Portland Police Association's president, and another was Mark Fortner, the widower of Collen Waibel, who was killed in a shootout with Stephen Dons in January 1998. (The paranoid among us wonder how Fortner reacted to seeing a fellow officer shot, and how fully the Medical Examiner investigated whose bullets killed Cassel. We do know that Fortner and the fourth officer, Homera Reynaga, fired back into Cassel's apartment.)
In moves guaranteed to make a suicidal person feel less threatened, the police fired teargas into the apartment and arranged to have the power cut off (Oregonian , July 16).
* On June 4, Officer Keith Jones was shot in the neck by 33-year-old Raul Mora from a St. Johns apartment during a domestic violence call. Officer Mark Stevens returned fire, and Mora was wounded in the hand and chest. Jones was hit in muscle tissue only, making him "a very lucky guy" according to Claudia Brown, a hospital spokesperson. Mora surrendered "without incident" (Oregonian, June 5).
* The Oregonian waited three days to report that six officers were involved in a shooting on Saturday, June 19. Jeffrey Samuel Chilson, age 34, allegedly fired at police after they tried to take him into custody for fighting with a former lover. He was wounded in the torso and upper leg. Cops were called to the scene because Chilson was said to have fired off three rounds (the article says officers in the area heard the shots). He was hit "multiple times." The officers named are: Det. Sgt Chris Uehara; Officers Christopher Guzman, Colbey Panter, Shawn Gore, Alex Venn and Timothy Musgrave (Oregonian, June 22).
* We also want to give some details on a shooting from March 16th, which was reported in a short blurb in PPR #17. Gresham Officer David Snider was wounded when Quinton Keppinger, age 31, shot him during a traffic stop. Keppinger was chased down by Portland Police and crashed into a phone pole. He was shot after a three-hour standoff and was wounded in the head, cheek and leg. He may have been shot by Snider, but it may also have been one of the Portland officers (not named in the March 16th Oregonian article).
* Meanwhile, in the adding insult to injury department, Chief Moose gave letters of commendation to four of the officers involved in the October killing of Dickie Dow (see PPR #16). Officers were called to the scene when a school police officer felt threatened by Dow, a 37-year-old developmentally disabled man. Eight officers piled on Dow after pepper spraying him, noticed he wasn't breathing, and called an ambulance. Witnesses say the police did not attempt to revive Dow; they even turned away the help of a neighbor who offered to do CPR herself. The early stories were that the PPB was no longer trained to do CPR, so the police did not attempt to revive Dickie; the story later changed during the grand jury inquest, with police claiming that they did do CPR, even though they allegedly weren't trained to do so. On July 22, Moose honored four officers for helping to save Dickie's life (KOIN-TV, July 23). Ironic, since Dickie died the morning after the officers "helped" him. In a peculiar twist on public realtions, the police still had not released the names of the four officers honored at PPR deadline.
This is a slap in the face not only to Dow's family, but to the community as a whole. It is reminiscent of when George Bush pardoned several key Iran-Contra figures in December 1992 as he was leaving office, insisting all the while they had never done anything wrong. Moose's last day on the job was July 28 (see related story in this issue on Chief Moose).
There is a memorial fund set up at US Bank branches, and the family has been holding memorial vigils third Fridays after dark at N Lombard and Fenwick.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.