People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Portland Police Rack Up More Shootings by July Than in All of
The US Department of Justice swept into Portland in 2010, launching an investigation in 2011 that determined, in 2012, the Police Bureau has a pattern and practice of excessive force,
especially against those in mental health crisis (PPR #58). Yet the PPB seems to keep shooting and killing people in crisis, even with federal scrutiny and national outrage about officer involved shootings. In the seven weeks from May 17 to July 5, Portland Police shot three men, wounding two and killing one. In all of 2014, there were four police shootings; just days past the halfway mark of this year, there had already been 5. Meanwhile, the only Portland officer ever indicted for on-duty use of force committed suicide. Also, the Portland Police Association (PPA) President unearthed an incident in which he fired a shot 20 years ago that was not in any previous reports. Plus, not surprisingly, officers were found not guilty of criminal or administrative misconduct in a number of incidents.
The first of the three shootings (May 17) came after Michael Shawn Harrison, 47, had been roaming a SE neighborhood and cutting himself with a knife. Clearly in mental health crisis, Harrison apparently broke into a woman's home and asked if the children were there, a detail the police managed to include in their news release to add to a sense of menace (the woman and her two kids hid in the basement and were unharmed). As he came out of the house, Officer Raelynn McKay (#52686), was "forced" to shoot because Harrison ran at her with the knife-- at least that's the terminology the Bureau chose to use. Sergeant Martin Padilla (#37143) fired a "bean-bag" round at Harrison prior to the lethal rounds being fired.
The second shooting occurred in the NE 122nd Winco parking lot on June 28. Allen Bellew, 29, of Lane County Oregon, was questioned by officers along with two associates standing by a car. Bellew allegedly grabbed a starter pistol (makes a bang, doesn't shoot bullets) and Officers Michael Currier (#50676) and Dominic Lovato (#49571) shot and killed him. Currier is one of the 23 cops who said they "liked" the Facebook pages of other PPB cops who said "I am Darren Wilson" last fall (Betsy Hornstein, the cop who kicked and punched Thai Gurule, also "liked" those pages-- PPR #65). The Bureau's release was sure to include Bellew's rap sheet, even though it's not clear whether this information was known to the officers at the time. Interestingly, starting with this incident the Bureau began including its policy language on the sanctity of human life in their news releases.
The most recent of the three shootings, in the early morning of July 5, took place near a NE police satellite precinct, where David James Ellis, 55, was allegedly trying to break in. Officers followed him on foot and in a car, and Ellis allegedly moved toward Officer Jose Jimenez (#52792), who backed up, tripped and fell over. Ellis then (according to the cops) stabbed Jimenez in the hand with a knife, which was shown in a police photo to be 6 inches long, even though it only had a 2.5 inch blade. Officer Scott Konczal (#52013) then opened fire and wounded Ellis. PPR readers may recall that almost exactly a year prior, Officer Robert Brown tripped and fell while walking backward from Nick Davis, and ended up shooting and killing the young homeless man (issue #63).
In late April, the officers involved in the March 22 shooting death of Christopher Healy, a homeless man, were cleared by a grand jury, even though witnesses disputed the official story (PPR #65). The Police Review Board, examining the 2014 cases of Kelly Swoboda and Paul Ropp (both PPR #62) declared that all officers followed training and policy in both cases, even though Officer John Romero confronted Swoboda without calling for backup, then shot him. (The PRB report also seems to indicate that an officer who spotted Swoboda's van--but let him go because he failed to notice that the front plate did not match the back one--was given 10 hours suspension for his mistake, even though Romero received no discipline for killing Swoboda including shots to the bottom of his feet.)
On May 25 (Memorial Day), former PPB Officer Dane Reister apparently killed himself by stepping in front of a train in SW Washington. Reister was fired from the Bureau after he loaded live rounds into his less lethal shotgun and fired repeatedly at William Monroe in 2011, causing permanent injuries (PPR #54). Though Reister was indicted on assault charges, this first- ever criminal case for PPB deadly force is now a moot point. We always say everyone has a right to go home safe at night, and do not wish to see anyone lose his/her life. So as not to speak ill of the dead, we will not recount the other cases from Reister's past. However, an internet search on "site:portlandcopwatch.org" and his name will turn them up.
Portland Copwatch has kept a running list of all PPB shootings/deaths in custody since we formed in 1992. We use that list to determine when the Portland Police set new record periods of time without using deadly force. When, in July, PPA President Daryl Turner told a community group about a 1995 shooting he'd been involved in (p. 1), it unearthed some new information. On July 25, 1995, Turner fired one shot at Gregory Michael McClung, 42, missing him but, in the words of the Oregonian (July 26, 1995): "The bullet chipped the brick front of The Oregonian Federal Credit Union, 1437 S.W. Broadway." Though McClung allegedly had a gun, he did not fire it and was taken into custody without further incident.
The Bureau's statistics, as released in 2003 after Kendra James was shot, only listed one shooting in 1995. We believe that incident was the December 6 shooting of Timothy Mathers (who was wounded). In other words, McClung's shooting was off everyone's radar until Turner brought it up. This means that our various articles tracking the longest time between shootings over the years have been mistaken. We thought the December 1995 shooting was the longest stretch (351 days) until 2009 when two shootings came 466 days apart. In reality, it was 217 days between the shooting of Ivan Lee Dixon in 1994 and Turner shooting at McClung. This means the Bureau broke its record since 1992 (when we started tracking) back in 2004 between the shootings of James Jahar Perez and Bruce Clark (239 days), which we called the 2nd longest time in PPR #34. We will work on updating our past commentary.
On May 12, the folks who organize monthly vigils for Justice for Keaton Otis held an indoor memorial service to mark 5 years since the young African American man was racially profiled and killed by Portland Police (PPR #51). The event drew about 200 people (Portland Obsever, May 20).
Note: In March 2021 we corrected the spelling of Officer Jimenez's name (previously it was spelled Jiminez in this article).
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.