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Quick Flashes--People's Police Report 39

STOP MEANS STOP: Cop's Story of Fatal Crash Changes

One person was killed and four others injured in two recent incidents in which local police officers ran stop signs. On July 1, Gresham police officer Joshua Linstrom ran a stop sign at NE 188th Avenue and Glisan. He crashed into a van, killing Marino Sanchez-Sanchez and injuring two others. His case has been complicated by his own conflicting testimony. Two weeks later a Portland officer ran a stop sign and her car was struck by a van.

Witnesses indicated Linstrom ran the stop sign at high speed while rushing to assist another officer investigating (ironically) a speed-racing complaint. The case subsequently went to the Multnomah County Grand Jury which voted on July 21 not to indict Officer Linstrom for criminally negligent homicide or assault in the third degree. At that time, Linstrom's story was that he had gone into the intersection because a tree limb obscured the stop sign (Oregonian, July 22). It later came out that Linstrom initially told another officer that the brakes on his patrol car had failed. An examination of the brakes found they were in good working order and there were no skid marks. Five days later in his interview with Portland police investigators Linstrom stated, "There's no way that this would have happened if I had seen that stop sign" (Oregonian, August 16) changing his defense from the brakes to the tree.

The investigation revealed that prior to the crash, Linstrom hadn't turned on his flashing lights or siren and was traveling in excess of 60 mph. During his training, Linstrom was criticized at least five times for his driving skills. Linstrom, who is in his probationary period prior to becoming a permanent officer, is working under close supervision as the Gresham Police Department finalizes its internal review. Perhaps if the crash itself doesn't end his career, his changing story might.

In the Portland incident on July 14, Officer Kim Hecht ran a stop sign in North Portland before being hit by a van. Hecht and a passenger in the van were taken to the hospital but were later released. Officer Hecht was responding to a domestic violence call from another officer (Oregonian, July 15). Hecht claimed she didn't see the stop sign.

In People's Police Report #14 (April, 1998) we raised concerns about deaths due to high speed chases. Failures to heed stop signs can also result in unnecessary deaths. If stop signs are truly not visible, the City could bear some responsibility. As a start, the branches allegedly obscuring Linstrom's stop sign on 188th have since been removed.

City Shells Out $30,000 for Body Police Left in Road

On May 31, the City Council approved a settlement of $30,000 for damages suffered when the body of Lavall Matthews, son of Vickie Matthews and father of Asia Matthews, was left uncovered on the street after he was killed in March, 2004. While Matthews, 35, was killed by another civilian, it was the delay in Portland Police homicide detectives arriving (between 3 AM and 6 AM) that caused the family's emotional distress that was the subject of the lawsuit. According to the Oregonian (May 27), police procedures now clarify the chain of command for who calls in detectives (the sergeant).

Former PJTTF Leader Cheats for His Homies; State Senator Wants Punishment

Lt. Randy Kane, formerly head of the Criminal Intelligence Unit and thus Portland Police's contingent on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, was in hot water for filling out 15 emergency preparedness tests for supervisors under his command. State Senator Avel Gordly called for Kane to be disciplined. Kane says he took the tests so detectives and sergeants in his command would "avoid the hassle and confusion he experienced logging onto the Web site to take the online exam." To take the tests, he used their social security numbers without their knowledge. One reason for the tests is to determine how much Homeland Security money the Portland Police receives. While Kane says he "made a mistake and [will] not do it again," we wonder what the FBI would make of it had a social justice activist used such tactics (Oregonian, May 24).

Seaside Officer Faces Range of Charges Including Sex with a Minor While on Duty

Seaside, Oregon officer Tom Cain was recently indicted on sex abuse charges for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a high school student while on duty. Cain was also charged with misconduct, witness interference, theft and official misconduct. He was fired in November, 2005 (Associated Press, 6/13).

Investigation Continues in Second Hand Shop Sting

In PPR #37, we reported that two Portland Police Bureau [PPB] officers are under investigation for tipping off second hand stores that the FBI was conducting a sting operation to uncover new merchandise that had been stolen being sold for cents on the dollar. The FBI subsequently opened a public corruption investigation into the matter and then Chief Foxworth was said to be proceeding with an internal affairs investigation. Portland Copwatch called for an update.

According to PPB public information officer Brian Schmautz, the suspects, Officers William Carter (#8766) and Steven Swan (#14388), are still with the Bureau and "continue to do their jobs." Schmautz indicated that the FBI investigation was continuing and there is typically no internal affairs investigation while a possible criminal investigation is pending.

When contacted for details, FBI spokesperson Beth Ann Steele said "the investigation is ongoing so I am unable to comment upon it at this time."


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