EDITORIAL: Firing Frashour is a Step in the Right Direction
By Bernie Foster, The Skanner News Publisher
November 18, 2010After all the grief and outrage surrounding the pointless shooting death of an unarmed man in a dark, rainy parking lot last January, it was with relief this week that we read Mayor Sam Adams’ and Portland Police Chief Mike Reese’s statements on their decision to fire rogue cop Ron Frashour.
Everybody in the Police Bureau should be held strictly to account for their actions because we taxpayers give them more power than any other city employees – the power to take away a human life at any given moment. And that’s exactly what Frashour did to Aaron Campbell.
The city officials this week also moved to discipline three other officers involved in the Jan. 29 slaying of Campbell, who was unarmed and shot in the back as he attempted to give himself up after a tense standoff triggered by his extreme grief over the death of his beloved younger brother that morning from a heart ailment.
After the Campbell killing we at The Skanner News openly advocated that people in crisis should not call the police – and the fact is that people in our own communities still have more to fear from law enforcement than city officials care to admit. But we commend the Mayor and the Police Chief for taking this stand.
We also take it as a good sign that the city has opened up hundreds of pages of records have been posted in the Internet – allowing the whole world to see what exactly happened that night. Read and decide for yourself whether Frashour, Officer Ryan Lewton, and Sgts. Liani Reyna and John Birkinbine were fairly singled out for their actions.
Chief Reese is actively urging anyone with an interest in the case to read the files for themselves. Frankly, the documents are shocking, and seem to imply that even Internal Affairs Division investigators were horrified at some of the things Frashour, in particular, told them about his actions leading up to Campbell’s death.
The newly-public files include the official discipline letters written out to the four penalized officers, and a transcript of the police Internal Affairs interview with Frashour – in which he admitted that even if he had known Campbell was trying to give himself up, “It wouldn’t have affected the end result, I can tell you that.”
The discipline letters are remarkable because they include a brief description of each officer’s record of previous disciplinary actions, which people have demanded for years and up to now, bureau brass has always declined to provide.
In fact Frashour’s newly-opened record discloses a previously-unknown 2008 incident in which he, inexplicably, used a “pursuit intervention technique,” crashing his patrol cruiser into the red Honda Accord of an innocent bystander — causing injury and physical damage – after hearing a radio description of a silver Honda with a reckless driver. The record shows Frashour never radioed in to confirm the description of the car he crashed into, and he received “command counseling.” It’s unknown at this time whether the city paid out damages to the driver.
We sincerely hope that the city continues to move in the direction of full disclosure and absolute accountability of each and every officer’s actions. That is what we expect our city leaders to do. Given the power the police have to take any life, they require more scrutiny than ever. Any officer who can’t fit that bill should look for other employment.
Every officer took an oath to protect the citizens of Portland – and they should be held to that standard. No citizen should have to fear the police.
What do you think?