Regional Shootings News: Stripped-Down Deadly Force Law Passes in Oregon
Portland is not the only place in Oregon and SW Washington with police deadly force issues.
Hillsboro, Vancouver, Clackamas and Salem Police Kill Suspects; Eugene Considers
--A bill passed in the Oregon Legislature in its final few hours which enshrined into law the ideas
generated by Attorney General Hardy Myers' task force (PPR #35). The law requires every
county to come up with a plan to respond to police deadly force incidents, including whether to hold
grand jury proceedings, what kind of community outreach to do, and how to examine the incident
for making changes to policy or training. Each County's body that establishes these standards will
include at least one citizen. Perhaps the most meaningful part of the bill is that officers are now
required to attend at least one session with a psychiatrist after a shooting; failure to do so could
result in the loss of certification.
The original bill included long-sought provisions to open grand jury testimony to the public in
police deadly force cases (PPR #30); unfortunately, as a compromise, that provision was
stripped at the last minute. On the bright side, that means a section prohibiting the use of a coroner's
inquest until after the grand jury was also not passed.
--On May 16, Hillsboro police shot and killed 53-year-old Songseumsack Tanovan when he came
to the door with two guns, firing at Washington County deputies. Tanovan's son had called for
medical help, as Tanovan was experiencing pain in his arm; firefighters say the father shot a gun in
the air when they arrived (Oregonian, May 17).
The Washington County DA decided not to hold a grand jury hearing. Tanovan was hit by just
two bullets, even though six officers fired their guns: Hillsboro police Officers Mike Johnston and
Chris Rasmussen, Forest Grove police Sgt. Dean Foster, and Washington County sheriff's
Deputies John Egg, Chad Lotman, and Charlie Irving (Oregonian Blog June 27 and May
--About a month later, Vancouver Police Corporal Steve Lobdell fatally shot 24-year-old Sean
Makarowsky when officers came to the door of the house Makarowsky was visiting to serve a
search warrant on another man. Makarowsky was at the window with a gun, which his family says
he picked up in self-defense since the police arrived at midnight, forced their way in, and shot his
dog. The family filed an intention to sue over the June 16 incident (Oregonian, June 30).
--In June, Clackamas Deputy Hilary Robinson shot and killed 24-year-old Luke Lewis Seal, who
was armed with two knives. The Medical Examiner, whose work we often have criticized in this
newsletter as excusing police behavior (PPR #39, for example), called it a "suicide by cop"
(Oregonian, June 21). That is not one of the state-statute-delineated conclusions for cause of
--The M.E. also ruled Tonya Yut, 39, committed suicide by shooting herself, though she was
simultaneously shot by a Clackamas County Deputy on July 14 (Oregonian, July 17).
--On August 13, Salem police Corporal John Humphreys shot and killed Cesar Gonzalez-Meza at a
traffic stop after the motorist allegedly zapped Humphreys with his own Taser (KGW.com, August
--The shooting of Ryan Salisbury in Eugene last November (PPR #40) was ruled justified
by "a shooting review board composed of a Eugene police lieutenant and four sergeants"
(Oregonian, March 1). His death has led to Eugene Police Commission discussions of how
officers handle incidents with people in psychological distress, and a pilot project to introduce
Tasers in Eugene.
Washington County has decided to make Crisis Intervention Team training mandatory and give
Tasers to all deputies in response to the shooting of Lukus Glenn (PPR #40). However,
Sheriff Rob Gordon claims that these tools wouldn't have changed the outcome of Glenn's case,
saying he was "armed, violent, angry, and uncommunicative and fueled by severe intoxication"
(Oregonian, April 6). Gordon's statement is predicated on the idea that CIT de-escalation
skills only work on people with mental illness.