People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
More Oregon Shootings Echo National Focus on Long-time Epidemic
We've been chronicling officer-involved shootings and deaths in custody for the entire state of Oregon over the years, pointing out in two letters to Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum that these occur at the rate of over 2 per month (PPR #64-65). Recently, major news organizations have taken it upon themselves to track all officer involved shootings in America and found startling data-- over 700 deaths by early August. Since March 17, the following 9 incidents beyond those in Portland occurred in our state of about 4 million people (we reported on one other in PPR #65):
--Two incidents we missed in our last issue:
* On March 17, seven Medford police officers shot and killed Andrew Charles Shipley, 49, while he was in mental health crisis and allegedly fired a rifle at officers. Lieutenant Curtis Whipple, Detective Sgt. Ben Lytle, Sgt. Geoff Kirkpatrick, Detective Corey Schwab, and officers R.J. Josephson, James Swanson and Arturo Vega used 62 bullets to kill Shipley (Medford Mail Tribune, April 8); and
* On April 6, a Linn County Sheriff's Deputy (unidentified) fired a shot but missed James Lindsay, 68, while responding to a medical call that may have been related to a domestic violence situation in Lebanon (Oregonian, April 8).
--On April 24, Salem officers Joshua Edmiston, Vincent Dawson and Sean Bennett shot and killed Mark Hawkins, 49, who allegedly shot at officers from his recreational vehicle in a Walmart parking lot. Eventually the cops tossed tear gas canisters into the vehicle and tore holes in it so they could shoot Hawkins (Oregonian, April 25/26& May 9, and Salem Statesman Journal, April 25).
--On May 29, Oregon State Police Gregor Smyth and Heather West shot and killed assault suspect Robert Box, 55, near Grants Pass, when he allegedly pointed a gun at them; they fired 11 times (Medford Mail Tribune, July 6).
--On May 31, Medford Police Corporal Tom Venables shot and killed James Anthony Morris, 40, firing 15 rounds after Morris supposedly pointed a gun and urged Venables to kill him (Medford Mail Tribune, June 24).
--On June 8, Stephen Phillip Burlison, 29, was injured after a Clackamas County Sheriff's deputy Deputy Kevin Bigler shot at him and Burlison crashed his car in Sandy. The June 10 Oregonian reports the injury may have been from the crash, not a bullet.
--In McMinville, Yamhill County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Broyles shot and killed Kevin Judson, 24, after an "altercation" on July 1. Judson, who was African American, was a passenger in a car stopped by another officer. He ran from the vehicle, somehow ending up in the driver's seat of the patrol car when he died (Oregonian, July 3).
--Also on July 1, Oregon State Police Trooper Ryan Neuenschwander, Sgt. Brandon Boice, Detective Brent Sitowski, and Detective Sgt. Jeff Fitzgerald and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents Ken Cooper and Brad Devlin shot and killed Kaleb Landon, 32, a suspect in a murder in California, following a chase on I-5 near Grants Pass (Medford Mail Tribune, July 2 & 30).
--On July 8, Beaverton Police Officers Jeff Flory, Dan Cotton, and Ryan Potter shot and killed Michael Terence Westrich, 59, when his vandalism to his own trailer escalated and he shot Officer Scott Burke with a shotgun (KGW-TV, July 14).
* Four Deschutes County deputies were demoted after inmate Edwin Burl Mays, 31, overdosed in the jail; the deputies were caught on video mocking Mays while he "behaved erratically" in his cell (Associated Press, June 13); and
* Beaverton Police gave awards to the officers who shot and killed Chelsea Fresh last November (PPR #64), angering Fresh's family (Oregonian, April 25).
On the national scene, both the Guardian (in England) and the Washington Post created databases of officer involved shootings in the US. The Guardian's searchable database, called "The Counted", which only counts those who were killed (PCW counts all officer involved shootings, since even ones in which nobody was hit was an attempted homicide), lists 711 people as of August 12. Twelve of those are in Oregon, making our state 19th highest of 50 states plus Washington DC for such incidents.
The six Baltimore officers who bounced Freddie Gray around in the back of their police van in April, leading to Gray's death, were all indicted in May (AP, May 22). The LAPD's oversight committee found misconduct by one of the officers who killed Ezell Ford, an African American man with mental health issues killed in August 2014 (Oregonian, June 10). In June, a Cleveland judge accepted a citizen petition asking to indict the officer who shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice last November (Oregonian/Washington Post, June 12). And questions are still being asked at PPR press time about the strange death of Black Lives Matter activist Sandy Bland, 28, who supposedly hanged herself in a Texas jail cell using a garbage bag after being arrested for a confrontation during a traffic stop.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.