People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
PPB Kills 2nd Black Youth in 3 Months, Shoots Up Neighborhood
By late May, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) had shot and killed twice as many people as they had in all of 2016. After the shooting death of Quanice Hayes and wounding of Don Perkins in February (PPR #71), Officer Samson Ajir (#50621) shot and killed Terrell Kyreem Johnson, 24, when Johnson allegedly "displayed" a box-cutter near a MAX station on May 10. Like Hayes, 17, Johnson was a young black man whose life was cut short by police. A few weeks later on May 28, multiple officers shot multiple times but did not hit Michael Grubbe, 51, as he supposedly waved around a replica gun in Laurelhurst, one of Portland's more upscale neighborhoods, locking down residents in their homes and patrolling with an armored vehicle. Hayes' family made history when they made an invited presentation to City Council on May 24, and the community remembered Keaton Otis seven years after his death with a May 12 memorial. Adding to the busy month, officers shot and wounded a pit pull on the same day Johnson was killed because the dog was biting a woman's leg (Portland Mercury, May 11).
It did not escape people's observations that: Quanice Hayes and Terrell Johnson were both killed, Don Perkins and Michael Grubbe and the dog all lived, and Jeremy Christian, the man who was holding a bloody knife after killing two people and wounding another on the MAX train on May 26, was taken into custody without incident (article). Christian was, however, shot in the face and wounded by the PPB in 2002 (PPR #28).
It was reported Johnson was houseless and living with mental illness and drug use. When Johnson
was killed, Officer Ajir was on patrol with the Transit Police, which partners Portland cops and
other jurisdictions. Oddly, he was allowed to patrol with his brother, Clackamas Sheriff's Deputy
Ali Ajir, and West Linn officer Jacob Howell, who did not fire their guns. It's not clear if the
investigation was slowed by the multiple jurisdictions-- the PPB can't compel these officers to
testify because they don't technically work for Portland (even though they're under a PPB Transit
Division Captain)-- or because in between the February shootings and Johnson's death the District
Attorney ordered the City to stop interviewing involved officers for policy violations until after the
Grand Jury is over (article). The Grand Jury
transcript indicates people complained Johnson was threatening them at the MAX station, and
when officers showed up he fled. The cops initiated a foot chase-- something outside experts at the
OIR Group said most cities discourage because chases frequently lead to force being used. It was
somewhere near SE Flavel and 92nd at roughly 7 PM when Ajir says Johnson moved toward him
with the boxcutter-- and the officer tripped moving backwards, so fired his gun. This is the third
incident in recent years with an officer tripping and using deadly force (after Nicholas Davis in
2014--PPR #63, and David Ellis in 2015--PPR #66). Police need to be trained on
how to walk backward while holding a gun.
Johnson died holding a "weapon" that was not a serious knife or firearm, like other houseless persons killed in recent years. 2010: Jack Collins had an X-acto blade, 2013: Merle Hatch had the broken handle of a telephone, and 2014: Nicholas Davis had a crowbar.
Michael Grubbe: Laurelhurst Suspect Let Go, Arrested Days Later
The officers who shot up the neighborhood because Grubbe supposedly pointed the replica gun at them were: Matt Jacobsen (#50933), Matt Brown (#52831) and Sara Fox (#36612).The reports about Grubbe noted the police were not even sure, once they took him into custody, that he was the person they had been looking for, since he was unarmed at the time (Oregonlive, May 29). He was booked on three outstanding warrants but released the same day. Considering the Bureau borrowed armored vehicles resembling tanks from the Washington County Sheriff's office, put Laurelhurst on lockdown on Memorial Day weekend, and fired bullets which landed in people's homes, the uncertainty brings extra concern. (The Oregonian added police "deployed air units and police dogs to aid in the manhunt.") If police did not consider the "backstop" of where they were firing in two different locations when they missed Grubbe, they violated Bureau policy. Some neighbors looked at the 10-hour lockdown as an annoyance, rather than a trampling of civil liberties.
PCW was not alone in noting Laurelhurst was the neighborhood where, in 1992, the PPB shot and killed both 12-year-old Nathan Thomas and the man holding Thomas hostage in his parents' home (PPR #5). This seminal incident led to the creation of the Bureau's Crisis Intervention Team (and the formation of Portland Copwatch). While the Oregonian noted the connection on June 1, they also quoted neighbors who praised the recent police action. This includes a person whose home was damaged by police bullets and whose "front door alone has 13 holes from where officers fired 'scatter shots' the size of BBs," with a total of over 25 holes "including one clean through the living room wall." Three days after the shooting, Grubbe was re-arrested for allegedly trying to break into his mother's home and taken in on a mental health hold.
Hayes' family secured two hours to address City Council under the title "Quanice's Life for Change Tribute." The main presenter was Hayes' grandmother Donna, who pointed out the officers could shoot at a dog without killing it, but not her grandson. Hayes' girlfriend told the heartbreaking tale of not knowing where Quanice was, calling his cell phone and discovering he had left it at home. Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch was one of the few people from outside the family invited to speak, noting statistics showing in the 10 years prior to the hearing, Portland Police shot (or shot at) 37 people and killed 22. Nine of the 37 were African American, or 24% in a city that is 6% black. Five of those who died were African Americans, or 23%.
Despite that sobering information, Hayes was actually the first African American killed by PPB
gunfire since Keaton Otis in 2010. Johnson was the second.
Shooter cops awarded:
Terry Kruger, who shot and killed Deontae Keller in 1996 and Ronald Riebling in 2005, was honored based on his career-long 30 commendations at a June PPB award ceremony. Russ Corno got an award for his "Basic Gang Awareness course" though he has said questionably racist things (PPR #58) and has been involved in 3 shootings-- Michael Johnson (2015), Osmar Lovaina- Bermudez (2009) and Derek Coady (2008).
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.