People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Portland's New Gang Team
By mid-August, 2021, Portland Police had shot at four people, killing two; by the same time in 2022 they shot six people, killing three of them. In a disturbing trend, two female Portland Police officers were involved in the shooting incidents since May, adding to the no-hit shooting by Jennifer Pearce in December 2020 (PPR #83). Shortly after midnight on July 24, Officer Gelsomina Cavalli-Singer (#59104) shot and killed Jonathan Worth, 19, who had seconds earlier been disarmed by her partner, an as-yet-unnamed male officer, while they were investigating Worth for Domestic Violence. Two days later on July 26, Officer Kyle Roush (#57758) fired at a person driving a truck who was suspected of firing a gun; that person allegedly rammed a patrol car with the truck and drove off. The next day, on July 27, an officer from the Focused Intervention Team (FIT) shot and killed a man; PPB has refused to release more info as of August 18. On May 7, just days after Portland Copwatch quoted Officer Whitney Anderson saying that she thinks the FIT, Portland's new Gang Enforcement Team, will make the city a "safer place," she was one of four officers to riddle a suspect with bullets. The suspect, 36 year old Matthew Leahey, was hospitalized for three weeks with critical injuries (Portland Mercury blog, May 8) and his name was not revealed to the public that entire time. Anderson (#59770) was joined by Adi Ramic (#51049), John Bartlett (#56711) and Michelle Petty (#58008). On August 16, the FIT shot at, but did not wound Robert Connelly, 49, when trying to arrest him on a warrant-- more info in our next issue. Here are the details, as known, on the other four new incidents.
Jonathan Worth: Death Caught on Video
The shooting by Officer Cavalli-Singer is highly unusual in that Chris Ponte, a person who regularly videos police-civilian interactions, recorded the incident. The video appears to show the male officer disarming the suspect by throwing the gun aside seconds after the man fired it, apparently down the street and not at the officers. Ponte is quoted in the media saying "the pistol was not in the guy's hand at the time when she shot him" (KOIN-6TV, July 24). While it is remotely possible Cavalli-Singer was unaware the gun didn't pose an immediate threat, which may mean she followed legal guidance that force must be based on what an officer knows at the time rather than 20/20 hindsight, it's not clear she was following policy by firing the gun at least five times without assessing if the threat was still active.
Matthew Leahey: Gang Team Shoots a White Man
The PPB and the media report that Leahey "exchanged gunfire" with the officers after they pulled him over for "multiple violations" in a car (Oregonlive, May 7). Surprisingly, images of Leahey indicate that he is Caucasian, despite the Bureau gang teams' history of over-policing the Black community. The PPB initially reported that an officer was shot, but then retracted that tidbit of misinformation-- similar to their incorrect report on the white supremacist shooting in Normandale Park in February (PPR #86). In apparent violation of communications restrictions, one officer told a witness that Leahey "tried to kill my partner."
Along those lines, the Portland Police Association (PPA) posted to their Facebook page on May 7, saying that a suspect "brazenly" exchanged gunfire with police who "fortunately" survived. No sympathy for the hospitalized civilian.
As for the officers involved, Ramic was the person who broke the nose of protestor (and grandmother) Peggy Zebroski in 2017 (PPR #77). Bartlett and Petty were both named in a lawsuit by a reporter who said they used inappropriate force during a 2020 protest.
Aaron Stanton: Bureau Wrongly Withholds Info on 7/27 Death
The man shot on July 27 had been firing off a gun in front of his own home. The Oregonian identified the homeowner as Aaron Stanton and quoted neighbors referring to "Aaron." On August 3, the "Independent" Police Review published its monthly report, which includes a list of deadly force incidents under investigation. That report cited Stanton's last name, but referred to the officers as "not released yet." Despite specific guidelines in Directive 1010.10 saying officers' names should be released within 24 hours unless there is a credible threat to their safety, the Bureau cited doxxing (posting personal information online) and threats against the officers in the previous two incidents as a reason to withhold the cop's name.
Unknown Suspect Still At Large
The suspect who was shot at while driving a truck on July 26 supposedly tried running into an officer outside of a patrol car before hitting the police car and fleeing. The police had responded to a report of gunfire (Oregonian, July 27). Because the person drove away, it is unknown what their race, gender and age are.
Seeing Similarities in Shootings
After the shootings on July 24 and 26, Chief Lovell and Deputy Chief Frome were each quoted in PPB news releases saying they were relieved no officer was injured. What about the dead civilian in the first case? At least Mayor Wheeler had the courtesy to mention these incidents are difficult for all involved (KOIN-6TV, July 24). On August 16, Com-mander Erica Hurley expressed she was "grateful" the officers got to go home safe, not mentioning the bullets they sprayed around a car repair business (Oregonlive, August 17).
It's also notable that the FIT has been involved in three deadly force incidents in its first seven months of operation. Safer streets indeed.
When KPTV-12, Portland's Fox affiliate, interviewed PPA President Aaron Schmautz about the three incidents on July 28, he said the officers were all "heroic" and trying to keep "the entire community" safe. Except, perhaps, those they were shooting at. Schmautz referred to the beginning of the incident with Worth as "good de-escalation tactics." In pulling these quotes out for the PPA's Facebook post, Schmautz ignored the quote in the same news story from Worth's half-sister in Kentucky, who felt the force used was "excessive."
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.