People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Portland Police Kill Unarmed Man with 15 Bullets
Portland Police shot and killed a man wanted on federal warrants with a barrage of 15 bullets, from two handguns and an assault rifle, on November 12. The death of 52-year-old David Hughes marked the fifth person to die in police custody this year--the sixth deadly force incident, and the fifth suspect who was not armed.
The Portland Police partici-pate in the U.S. Marshals' task force, and went to a motel in Southwest Portland looking for Hughes, who was wanted on armed burglary, arson, and firearms possession charges. Apparently, Hughes called the front desk and the media saying the police were after him, and text-messaged his daughter that he thought he would be killed. As the police arrived, Hughes jumped from a second-story window into an area behind a chainlink fence. Officers told him to show his hands, and tried shooting Hughes with a lead-pellet "beanbag," which struck the fence. According to the police (it is unclear if there were any civilian eyewitnesses to the actual shooting), Hughes told the officers to shoot him. Police say he reached into his coat and they obliged his request (Oregonian, November 13-14).
The officers involved included Sgt. Timothy Musgrave (#20110), the officer who dragged grandmother Dora McCrae out of her Loaves and Fishes van when she allegedly failed to signal a turn in 1998 (PPR #s 21 & 23). Musgrave was also involved in the shooting and wounding of Jeffrey Chilson in 1999 (PPR #18). The others were Officers Nathan Voeller (#37566) and Kevin Tully (#45976). Voeller was trained in Crisis Intervention (PPB News Release, November 13), yet fired 7 rounds from an AR-15 assault rifle (the "civilian" equivalent of a military M-16).
One member of the Portland Police on the US Marshals' task force, Sgt. Dirk Anderson, had the highest number of use-of-force reports among those sampled by the Portland Tribune (October 31). Anderson is the officer who turned in two off-duty cops who had beaten a man outside a downtown restaurant (PPR # 27). We suspect he is on the task force rather than at a precinct for his own protection.
The previous Portland shooting, which occurred after our last issue went to press, involved Scott Vincent Suran, 44, a man suspected in a series of robberies who was shot and wounded in the shoulder by police on August 28. Officer Anthony Passadore (#33482) shot Suran one time when, according to the police, Suran reached for his waistband. Like Hughes, Suran was shot with an AR- 15.
Prior to the shooting, police had chased Suran and rammed the back of his minivan, causing it to overturn and catch on fire (PPB News Release, August 28). Although such an action (a "Pursuit Intervention Technique") occurring at 45 MPH or greater is considered deadly force, we have not seen any media or police reports indicating that this action was investigated. In fact, since the shooting occurred in Clackamas County, the routine grand jury criminal review of the case never occurred. The Clackamas County DA, Greg Horner, issued a news release explaining "it's clear that Officer Passadore was justified in using deadly force" because Suran was a suspected armed robber--yet his fake gun was found in the charred remains of the vehicle, not on his person. The DA wrote: "Suran attempted to elude police. This ended when Suran rolled the Aerostar," leaving out the officers as the cause of the crash. His final justification was that "the difficulty and danger of capturing Suran would have dramatically increased had Suran made it into the heavy brush."
Suran was the first and only person to live through a deadly force encounter with Portland Police in 2006. He was "arraigned on 14 counts of second-degree robbery, suggesting Suran is accused of threatening bartenders with a fake gun and was not armed" (Oregonian, September 2).
Besides Hughes, the other three incidents this year in which unarmed people died in police custody were: Dennis Young, shot in his car outside Lt. Jeffrey Kaer's sister's house on January 4; Timothy Grant, who died after being tasered by Officers Paul Park and Ney Phothivongsa on March 20 (both PPR #38); and James Chasse Jr. on September 17 (p.1).
The only person who was shot while armed was Jerry Goins, who allegedly killed himself after being shot multiple times by Officer Richard Steinbronn on July 19 (PPR #39).
Updates on Previous Shootings
--Regarding the Dennis Young case, attorney Craig Colby had petitioned the Marion County Circuit Court to release Young's autopsy on the grounds that it was a public document due to his death being at the hands of a police officer. The Judge ruled against Colby (Willamette Week Web Murmurs, October 18).
--In the case of James Jahar Perez, who was killed in a car that Officers Jason Sery and Sean Macomber pulled over because they thought it was too fancy for the St. John's neighborhood he was in (PPR #32), attorney Elden Rosenthal challenged Portland's deadly force policy as unconstitutional. Rosenthal asserts that the policy sets one level of police interest ("reasonable belief") for the use of deadly force in general but another one ("probable cause") for fleeing suspects--in contradiction to the landmark Supreme Court case Tennessee v. Garner and the Fourth Amendment's guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure. The 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals considered this argument on November 13, with a decision not expected for months. After that, the pre-trial motions in the wrongful death lawsuit will continue.
• James Chasse Dies After
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