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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

UPDATED: Police Shoot At Man Atop Downtown Parking Garage

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 10:43 AM

Police mobile unit at SW 3rd and Alder
  • Police mobile unit at SW 3rd and Alder

UPDATE 5:40PM—The police have released a more detailed account of the shooting, and it's over here in a new post.

UPDATE 11:30AM— Mayor Adams has a quick statement on the shooting that doesn't say much of anything:

“This morning, I visited the scene of an officer-involved shooting at a parking garage at SW 4th and Morrison. Police Chief Mike Reese briefed me on the preliminary shooting details. There is more work to be done on the investigation into the circumstances and details of this incident, including a grand jury proceeding. As the Police Bureau does with any investigation, we will look for opportunities to learn from this incident.”

UPDATE 10:33AM—The police sent out a slightly more detailed description of the incident. From their release:

At some point after requesting Crisis Negotiation Team and Project Respond, two officers fired shots at the man and he dropped out of sight. The man was on top an elevated roof on the southwest corner of the parking structure roof. This area is surrounded by a low wall preventing a full view of the rooftop.

Not knowing if the man was hit by gunfire or if he was simply hiding behind the wall, officers called for the Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) to respond to develop a safe plan to approach the man.

SERT responded and through the assistance of Portland Fire & Rescue and the Metropolitan Explosives Disposal Unit (MEDU), able to safely approach the man and determined that he was deceased and that he was armed with a weapon.

ORIGINAL POST:
A reportedly armed man who called 911 and threatened to jump from the SmartPark garage at SW Third and Morrison died after shots were fired in a confrontation with police early this morning, according to several news outlets briefed by police after the shooting.

The shooting marks the first fatal officer-involved shooting in just more than a year, and it comes amid an ongoing federal probe into how the bureau uses force against the mentally ill.

The still-unidentified man called dispatchers at 3:15, said he had committed a robbery and then made his threat to jump. The man showed off a gun during a confrontation with the first officers who showed. The Oregonian says officers shot at him "at some point," while the bureau's hostage negotiation team and Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT)—specialty units that usually preside over standoffs and tense situations—were still on the way.

But KPTV reports
"it wasn't immediately clear what led police to open fire, and it's not known if he was actually hit by the gunfire. Police also haven't substantiated the man's claim that he committed a robbery." KATU says the man "did not fire at officers."

The man apparently "dropped out of site," everyone reported, and was found dead atop an elevator shaft by SERT officers who had to borrow ladders from the fire bureau. The O notes that the callout included Police Chief Mike Reese his two assistant chiefs, Larry O'Dea and Eric Hendricks.

Update 10:10 AM: A woman who was participating in the anti-camping-ban vigil outside city hall last night told me she remembered hearing a few gunshots coming from the area around the parking garage about 3:30 or 4 in the morning, and then watching a flood of cops pouring from Central Precinct.

"We went down to see what was happening," said the woman, Erin Lee Garrigus.

About an hour or so later, she said she saw officers with rifles walking toward the garage. Then, a few minutes after that, "we heard two pops."//

The shooting comes despite the police bureau's attempt to train officers on a "step back" policy, first reported on by the Mercury. The policy even applies to people who might have guns.

It's also unclear how this case fit with a promised new policy that directs "nonthreatening" suicide calls to 911 be handled by social workers instead of police. The policy was supposed to start up this year. On its blog, though, Mental Health Association of Portland, raised questions last month about how often the policy would be used.

The planned program would require a caller to state they are, or someone is suicidal, give their name and address, state they are alone, that they present no immediate threat to themselves or others, that they do not have the means to commit suicide, and that they are willing to be transferred to a ‘mental health crisis line.’ It’s uncertain how many calls like this occur.

Update 10:10 AM: Traffic and MAX is pretty much back to normal around the area. The block around the garage—Third and Fourth and Morrison and Alder—is shut down, with the red and blue MAX lines rerouted up to Fifth and Sixth.

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