This Week in the Mercury


Monday, February 18, 2013

Here We Go Again? Man Shot by Police May Have Been Was Patient at Adventist

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 2:37 PM

The man shot dead by cops at Portland Adventist Medical Center last night may have been a patient at the hospital, according to the latest update from the police bureau, and was killed only minutes after officers first responded to a call about someone in the hospital's parking lot wielding a gun.

The bureau has identified the three officers who shot at the man—Sergeant Nathan Voeller (12 years with the bureau, and a training instructor who thought the 2010 shooting of Aaron Campbell was in policy), Officer Andrew Hearst (three years), and Officer Royce Curtiss (seven years). And it also made sure to mention the fact that officers used a ballistic shield to approach him "immediately" after he went down to see about giving any aid—a sore point in other shootings.

But as to what kind of patient the man was, or his name, that information remains forthcoming. The bureau is waiting to identify the dead man and won't release his name even then until his next of kin are notified. Most of the people shot by police in Portland are experiencing some kind of a mental health crisis, and Adventist has a 24-hour intake facility for its inpatient psychiatric center.

"That's the information we received," police spokesman Sergeant Pete Simpson told the Mercury when asked about the description of the man as a patient. "I can't confirm he was a patient. That's the information the officers received in the call."

Update 4:20 PM: Judy Leach, spokeswoman for Adventist, has confirmed the man was a patient in the hospital's emergency department but declined to comment on the nature of the emergency, citing medical privacy laws.

But in a statement (attached at the bottom of the post), she says the man only said he was armed—and that he threatened to shoot an employee inside. The hospital called the police and went in lockdown all the same, with the threatened employee leading the man to an exit that he then bolted through. Security kept an eye on him, but let the cops take over once they arrived./end update//

The bureau also hasn't included any more details about whether the man did, in fact, have a gun or anything that looked like a gun. Or whether, like in several other officer-involved shootings, the man had a replica firearm.

But the timeline from the bureau roughly jibes with what our reporter Nathan Gilles said witnesses told him. Edward Dass, who lives in an apartment complex across from the hospital said he heard eight shots around 9:30 last night and ran outside.

"I put my shoes on, ran out the door," he said, "and then I heard someone say the 'suspect was down' about five minutes after."

The bureau puts the shooting in the employee parking lot at Adventist, near a parking garage along SE Main and said cops from East Precinct showed up at 9:24 pm "on the report of someone in the courtyard armed with a black handgun." Later, 911 dispatchers heard the man pointed a gun at a security vehicle.

As more cops flooded in, and as officers tried to figure out what to do—calling in the bureau's airplane, medical personnel, a canine unit, and Project Respond—cops somehow "encountered the suspect," gave him "commands," and then shot him until he fell to the ground.

The autopsy is planned for tomorrow morning—right when a federal judge is scheduled to discuss what a "fairness hearing" on federal reform of the Portland Police Bureau (and its rough handling of the mentally ill) might look like. Read the bureau's release after the jump.

The Portland Police Bureau is continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the officer-involved shooting on Sunday evening in the parking lot of Portland Adventist Medical Center (PAMC), located at 10123 Southeast Market Street.

On Sunday February 17, 2013, at 9:24 p.m., Portland Police officers assigned to East Precinct responded to PAMC on the report of someone in the courtyard armed with a black handgun. As multiple officers were enroute, additional information was broadcast that the suspect was a patient and was currently in the employee parking lot. Additionally, information was given to 9-1-1 dispatchers that the suspect pointed a gun at a PAMC Security vehicle.

As officers and sergeants began arriving in the area, they immediately began to develop a plan to safely address the situation. Officers requested that PAMC go into lock-down and a Sergeant requested that Project Respond and Portland Police Air Support be called out to the scene. Additionally, a K-9 Unit and Medical Personnel were asked to respond.

Officers encountered the suspect in the PAMC employee parking lot and began giving him commands. During the course of the encounter, three officers fired shots at the suspect, who fell to the ground. Officers immediately approached the downed suspect with a ballistic shield and rendered medical aid. Medical personnel checked the suspect and confirmed he was deceased.

An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday morning by the Oregon State Medical Examiner. The suspect's name will be released after he has been identified and family notifications have been done.

The three involved Bureau members are all assigned to East Precinct afternoon shift: Sergeant Nathan Voeller a 12-year-veteran; Officer Andrew Hearst, a 3-year-veteran; and Officer Royce Curtiss, a 7-year-veteran.

As is standard procedure, all three involved members will remain on paid administrative leave pending the ongoing investigation and are scheduled to be interviewed on Wednesday February 20, 2013.

To protect the integrity of this ongoing officer-involved shooting investigation, no additional details on this case will be released until sometime late Wednesday.

Once the investigation is complete, the entire case will be presented to the District Attorney's Office who will schedule a Grand Jury.

Representatives from the Chief's Office, Mayor's Office, Office of Professional Standards, Office of Independent Police Review (IPR), and the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office were at the scene on Sunday night and have been briefed on the status of the investigation.

The statement from Adventist:

Portland, Ore – February 18, 2013 — A patient in the Emergency Department at Adventist Medical Center told a staff member that he had possession of a gun and would use it on the employee. The incident occurred on Sunday at approximately 9:30 p.m. at the East Portland hospital. Hospital staff responded accordingly by initiating a code silver, indicating a combative person with a weapon was on the premise of the hospital. Hospital personnel immediately called 911 requesting police assistance. Meanwhile, the suspect demanded that the employee lead him to the exit of the facility. Once the exit was visible, the suspect quickly departed the building alone.

On-site security observed the suspect outside the building, however still on the hospital campus. As is our policy, security officers were in communication with Portland Police during the active code. Once on the scene, Portland Police took the lead in responding to the situation.

We endeavor to care for the entire community with compassion and are saddened when outcomes result in loss of life. We continue to cooperate with local authorities with whom the investigation resides.

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