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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Scenes From 2011's Fourth Police Shooting

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 4:44 PM

Officials including Mayor Sam Adams and Police Chief Mike Reese discuss the details of the shooting before a police spokesman provides an update to reporters.
  • Denis C. Theriault
  • Officials including Mayor Sam Adams and Police Chief Mike Reese discuss the details of the shooting before a police spokesman provides an update to reporters.
So we're still waiting for a more definitive initial accounting of today's non-lethal police shooting—the fourth shooting so far this year, and the ninth out of 10 since January 2010 involving someone battling some form of mental illness.

But after talking to neighbors and more witnesses, we do know a bit more than we did earlier this afternoon when I called in our last dispatch to Sarah. But first! A recap of the bare bones of that report for anyone who didn't read that post: Cops were called when a man was reported bothering children attending a day camp at Lair Hill Park in Southwest, with one caller reporting the man had a knife. The man was chased to a grassy spot behind Caro Amico, an Italian restaurant whose front entrance is up on SW Barbur but with parking down the hill on Naito. The man was shot by what cops say, so far, was one round. He was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Update 5:40 PM: KGW is reporting, according to an interview paramedics, that the man was bleeding from a gunshot wound to his leg and and was taken uphill to Oregon Health and Science University for treatment.

What's new?

Contrary to what one witness, Jay Smith, suggested, the man does not appear to have climbed from beneath an underpass along Naito east of Caro Amico. A camper down in the underpass—the underbelly of an entrance ramp leading from Barbur to northbound Naito—said no one matching the description of the man who was shot (long hair, black shorts, and a T-shirt) had been crashing there or had even run through there.

The camper said he heard someone scramble down from the road above onto Naito and then run toward Caro Amico.

"There was some yelling and screaming," said the man, who declined to give his name. "I caught a glimpse of him running by and then all of a sudden blam-blam-blam-blam"—four or five gunshots.

The grassy area near where the man was shot.

That was nearly the same count offered by a neighbor near SW Gibbs and Naito, who also said she heard four shots not long after seeing a man wearing black shorts running south on SW First toward Caro Amico. First dead-ends into Barbur past the restaurant.

Daniel Serrano, who moved into a home on Naito two years ago, said he also heard four or five gunshots "after some arguing." Then, "before I knew it, there were a bunch of cops going by."

Serrano said the man might have been camping not near Barbur and Naito but inside a pedestrian tunnel where Highway 26 crosses under Naito. The tunnel was empty when I checked it out, but had urine puddles, plastic spoons on the floor, and a plastic carton of nonperishable foodstuffs near its western entrance.

The pedestrian tunnel, and foodstuffs, underneath SW Naito.

Serrano said a man who might have been the guy who was shot, matching the description given by Smith and the other unidentified neighbor—wearing black and with long, messy hair—had recently been appeared in the area and been seen in the tunnel. The tunnel, he says, is a a popular nighttime crash spot in the summer months.

Pat O'Hearn, another neighbor, also said homeless people camp in the neighborhood's overpasses and tunnels but that there's hardly any issues.

"It's pretty mild," O'Hearn said.

Meanwhile, up at Lair Hill Park, parents and officials at nearby Cedarwood school, having summer classes, were mostly mum about reports that the man who was shot was bothering children. Officials from the Portland parks bureau said the children were participating in a private summer camp put on by one of the school's teachers.

An administrator who declined to give her name, and who later asked reporters to leave the school building, said the children at the park were ushered into the school building about when police were called.

Also significant: This was the first police shooting since the police bureau agreed to allow the Independent Police Review office to send representatives to shooting scenes, and then to any and all bureau briefings on a shooting. Constantin Severe, assistant director of the IPR office, was on hand and seen with the bureua's civilian director of services, Mike Kuykendall.

The shooting is also the first since the federal Department of Justice launched its probe into whether the police bureau, through use of force, has routinely violated the civil rights of the mentally ill. That question was on the mind of observers who noted the roll-out of detectives, commanders, and civilian managers and city leaders, although spokesman Lieutenant Robert King said the bureau always brings in "all the resources that are necessary." In truth, nearly the entire cast of characters out at the scene today, for a non-fatal shooting, were also at the scenes of other recent shootings.

The man may have scrambled down from this overpass to run across Naito and head toward Caro Amico.
  • Denis C. Theriault
  • The man may have scrambled down from this overpass to run across Naito and head toward Caro Amico.

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