People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Oregon Police Continue Pattern of Shootings
While two newspapers continue to tally up officer involved deaths of civilians in the US (the Washington Post and the Guardian-- PPR #66), Portland Copwatch continues to track fatal and non-fatal incidents here in the state of Oregon. Here are ones that happened since we last went to press:
--On December 9, Newport police shot and wounded Nantharath Thilavans, 53, allegedly armed with a hammer (Newport News-Times, December 10). The man was hanging around at an RV park; the park's manager told Oregonlive "I called police because I wanted him removed... now I'm wondering if I did the right thing or not."
--A Klamath County deputy killed Matthew Stephen Colligan, 28, when he smashed his truck into Colligan's during a November 2 chase (Oregonlive, November 2).
--On October 28, Oregon State Police Trooper Jason Perizo shot and killed Jasper Levi Adams, 35, on the freeway near Salem when Adams allegedly pointed a gun at them after his SUV went off the road at the end of a chase (Oregonian, October 30).
--Also on October 28, Oregon State Police and/or US Marshals shot and wounded 36-year-old Andrew DeHart, who was wanted on attempted murder charges in Vancouver and had been chased from Seaside into Washington County. The Medical Examiner says DeHart, who allegedly "disabled" a police car in a gunbattle, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound (Oregonlive, October 29 and KGW-TV, November 3).
--Weeks earlier, Phyllis Ilene Jepsen, 55, died of her injuries after Washington County Deputies Dennis Strange, John McCullough and Matt Humphrey shot her on October 2. Jepsen was allegedly armed with a knife and suicidal; she was hit by both "less-than lethal" and lethal rounds (Portland Tribune, October 3 and Oregonlive, October 9).
--In a highly visible incident, Roseburg Detectives Joe Kaney and Todd Spingath fired their weapons at Christopher Harper-Mercer, 26, who had shot, wounded and killed a number of people at Umpqua Community College. According to reports, Harper-Mercer, the white, discharged US Army member, committed suicide (Oregonian, October 3 and 7).
This brings the total deadly force incidents for 2015 in Oregon to at least 25, higher than the five- year average of 23* for 2010-2014 (PPR #65).
-- Four prominent cases ended in settlements totalling almost $24 million: Eric Garner's family agreed to a $5.9 million settlement for his chokehold death in New York; Freddie Gray's family will be compensated with $6.4 million for his death by battery in a Baltimore police van; Walter Scott's death in North Charleston, South Carolina ended with a $6.5 million settlement; and James Boyd, a homeless man with mental illness killed by Albuquerque police, is having $5 million in compensation go to his survivors (LA Times, October 10).
-- USUncut.com reported on September 7 that while killings of police are at a 20-year low, police killings of civilians is at a 40-year high. Statistics show 200 fewer officers have died since Barack Obama was elected than in the 8 year term of Ronald Reagan (1981-88), while "at least 928 people have been killed by police annually over the last eight years." The article says in 2014, 4600 Americans died on the job, but only 79 police, putting them "outside of the top 15 most dangerous jobs, behind garbage collectors, taxi drivers and bartenders." The Washington Post carried a similar piece on September 10 in which Radley Balko debunks the idea of a "war on cops," calling such notions "nonsense" and pointing out that even if it were true, making officers overly nervous to do their jobs is "dangerous and counterproductive" (also see Rapping Back).
* PCW found 4 more incidents in 2013-14, bringing the 5-year total up from our previously reported 111 to 115.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.