April 9, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. - Police officers fatally shot an unidentified man last night at Cityteam Ministries homeless shelter in Portland. A police spokesperson said the officers believed the man was armed, but disturbing bystander video of the incident has concerned many members of the community. While the full details of the interaction remain unclear, the video shows the man was some distance from the officers when they opened fire and does not appear to be holding a gun.

In reaction, David Rogers, ACLU of Oregon executive director, issued the following statement:

“Bystander video of the fatal shooting of a man in a homeless shelter in Portland last night raises serious questions about how police handled the situation and whether lethal force was called for. Trained police officers should use the least amount of force necessary.

“The video shows a disturbing and chaotic scene of people in the shelter running and yelling in fear, while others looked on, including one person in a wheelchair, as Portland Police officers enter the building with guns drawn. In less than a minute, officers shoot and kill the man, while members of an already traumatized population, Portland’s homeless community, watch in horror. Was there any attempt to de-escalate the situation before officers open fire inside the homeless shelter full of innocent bystanders? If not, why not?

“We join many in the community by calling for a prompt, thorough, and transparent investigation into this shooting. The public deserves to get a detailed account of why this man was shot and what actions Portland Police took to avoid yet another fatal shooting.

“This marks the fifth fatal shooting by police in Oregon in 2018, putting it on track to be one of the deadliest years yet. Such excessive force by police is particularly disturbing given its disproportionate impact on people of color. Drastic changes are needed in our approach to public safety. Law enforcement in Oregon should treat all communities with dignity, employ restraint on police power, and use only the degree of force necessary to maintain the community’s safety.

"Were it not for the bystander video, Portlanders would again have no record of an interaction with police that turned deadly. To provide more objective evidence of police encounters, law-enforcement agencies should adopt use of body-worn cameras. Body-worn cameras could increase transparency, promote police accountability, and help ensure interactions with community members are fair and lawful.”

This statement is online at https://aclu-or.org/en/press-releases/aclu-oregon-questions-killing-man-police-portland-calls-transparency.

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