A new report by Los Angeles consultants is pushing the Portland Police Bureau to place restrictions on officers' use of Tasers and other less lethal weapons.
The report says cops should use "only the minimum number of cycles necessary to place the subject in custody," and that the bureau should "strongly advices officers against using more than three" cycles of the Taser.
The report, which reviewed 12 officer-involved shootings between 2002 and 2005, makes repeated mention of "case five," which can be identified from the details described in the report as the fatal shooting of William Grigsby in December 2004. Cops shot Grigsby 13 times, hit him 22 times with beanbag rounds, and Tasered him four or five times.
Grigsby ran from the cops after crashing a stolen pickup truck in Southeast Portland.
After the initial shooting, SERT officers fired beanbag rounds and Taser rounds at Grigsby, and even sent a police dog in to bite him and drag him as he lay bleeding and unresponsive on the ground for 87 minutes. Cops forbade an ambulance, on standby at the scene, from helping Grigsby, who was later pronounced dead by medics. The state medical examiner found that immediate medical care probably would have saved Grigsby's life.
After Grigsby's death, the bureau instituted a new medical care policy, saying officers should give medical care to a suspect "at the earliest time feasible." But the report, by the Police Assessment Resource Center in Los Angeles, says the bureau hasn't gone far enough, and that "it must yet compel officers to render aid as quickly as possible, unless the rendering of aid would present an unreasonable danger." The report also says the bureau needs to clarify its policy around beanbag shotguns, following the incident.
An advance copy of the report, which was released to the public through the auditor's website at midnight last night, appears to have been given to the Oregonian on an exclusive basis yesterday. Copwatch activist Dan Handelman expressed frustration at this morning's press conference that he was given just nine hours, without sleep, to digest the report's contents before being given the chance to ask questions about it.
SALTZMAN AND SIZER: "Pleased," and "proud" of the report this morning...
Apart from its recommendations related to the Grigsby death, the report is largely positive about the development of the police bureau in handling officer-involved shootings since 2002. "This report describes an increasingly excellent police department," it says.
Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Police Chief Rosie Sizer credited the PARC report this morning with a substantial reduction in in custody deaths since 2002, with only two shootings occurring in each of the last two years—as shown, for the benefit of the TV cameras, on a graph displayed behind them at the press conference.
"I want to say how proud I am," said Sizer. "I think what you've seen is a Herculean effort on the part of the Police Bureau to change how it investigates in custody deaths."
"I'm increasingly pleased," said Saltzman. "The police bureau is becoming a more responsive, transparent organization, committed to increasing accountability."
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