Shot, Bitten, Cuffed: Crisis Negotiators Talked Aaron Campbell Out Before Shooting
Lisa Loving Of The Skanner
February 17, 2010
As Portland boils with righteous anger over the police killing of a suicidally-despondent man – some in support of the shooting, many outraged by it -- the 631-page police report released this week only adds to the tragic story.
UPDATE: Mayor Sam Adams and Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman Thursday afternoon announced they’ll be joining with Black leaders to call for a U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights investigation into the fatal police shooting of Aaron Campbell.
Adams and Saltzman attended the African American Alliance breakfast event held this morning at the American Red Cross office to discuss “next steps” for community organizing around the tragedy.
Saltzman staffer Shannon Callahan confirmed the coalition of elected and community leaders will request a federal investigation into the shooting “and the larger issue of the Portland Police Bureau.”
“It’s a highly fluid situation,” Callahan told The Skanner News.
The official announcement is set for Friday, Feb. 19 at 9:30 at the Northeast Precinct, while at noon another protest march is set for 3 p.m. at Pioneer Courthouse Square to urge Oregon Attorney General John Kroger to launch an investigation into the police shooting of Aaron Campbell.
Kroger had already scheduled a special event Friday Feb. 19 at Portland state University to flesh out his priorities for the state’s new Civil Rights Unit, and introduce its new chief, Assistant Attorney General Diane Schwartz.
That event starts at 3:30 p.m., at the Urban Center, Room 250, at Southwest Fifth and Mill Streets.
Rev. Jesse Jackson – who spoke to Portlanders Wednesday night at Marantha Church – inspired a hundreds-strong rally Thursday at noon, protesting Frashour’s return to duty. The group stormed City Hall, demanding to speak with Mayor Sam Adams, who met with Campbell family members after a tense confrontation.
Also today the Multnomah County District Attorney released a 454-page transcript of the Grand Jury proceedings into the Campbell shooting, plus a transcript of the 9-1-1 call that triggered the police response and the Medical Examiner’s report. Read it here http://www.mcda.us/index.php
The medical document failed to specify a time of death for Campbell, 25, who did not receive medical attention after being beanbag-gunned, attacked by a German shepherd and shot in the back with an AR-15 rifle.
The Police report was released Tuesday, hours before the Rev. Jesse Jackson met with city officials and addressed a standing-room-only crowd at the Maranatha Church in Northeast Portland, calling Aaron Campbell’s death an “execution.”
Jackson, criticizing the Police Bureau for allowing Officer Ronald Frashour off desk duty and back to work as a community policing liaison in the East Precinct, called for people to march on City Hall as The Skanner News went to press Wednesday.
A hundreds-strong crowd confronted Mayor Sam Adams, who spoke to the group, then invited the Campbell family into his office for a private meeting before the demonstration broke up.
Also this week, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Jean Kerr Maurer ruled to release the transcripts of the Grand Jury investigation on Campbell’s death, which county officials said may be available Thursday, Feb. 18 on the Multnomah County District Attorney’s website.
According to the police report, Campbell, shot in the back Jan. 29 after a 90-minute standoff in the parking lot of his girlfriend’s apartment complex, had just concluded a successful negotiation with police crisis counselors and agreed via text messages not to hurt himself or anyone else.
However as he exited the apartment, a “containment and custody team” assembled in the dark, rainy parking lot – one officer armed with a “less lethal” bean-bag shotgun, one providing “lethal cover” with an AR-15 rifle, and a “take down” K9 officer/dog team – had not been kept in the loop of negotiation developments, and effectively took matters into their own hands.
While the negotiator, Officer James Quackenbush, established effective – even jocular – rapport with Campbell, eventually persuading him to put away his gun and give himself up, the officers outside say they were “surprised” by Campbell’s “sudden” appearance, threatened by his quick movements and “very determined manner.”
As word came to the crisis negotiators that Campbell was preparing to exit the apartment, and managing Sgt. Liani Reyna was called away from the scene to report to her two commanding officers, the three officers in the parking lot all three discharged their weapons, leaving Campbell bleeding on the pavement within one minute of closing off negotiations and stepping outside.
The “involved” officers, Ryan Lewton, Ronald Frashour, and Jeff Elias, refused to be interviewed by investigators on the night of the incident, and only gave their testimony with their lawyers present on Feb. 1.
Frashour, who fired the fatal shot, told investigators he was focused on his tactical role as “lethal cover,” and didn’t hear all the commands given to Campbell by Lewton, who appears to have set the final situation in motion by issuing commands that Campbell followed at first.
When, as Lewton testified, Campbell didn’t put his hands up over his head as he was commanded to do, Lewton fired a bean bag “into his rear end” to “gain compliance.” Lewton said he kept issuing commands and shooting the bean bags, hitting Campbell with every shot.
Within seconds – as Elias’ dog Bono barked loudly – Campbell started running back toward the apartment.
While police witnesses differ on the final seconds, at about the time the bean bags were being shot in rapid succession, Elias loosed his dog on Campbell, and a few seconds later Frashour fired one shot, taking Campbell down just before the dog attacked.
Elias testified that he could hear the dog biting Campbell, but he couldn’t hear Campbell making any sound. Elias said he had to remind the other officers that his dog was still “on” Campbell, and since the other officers couldn’t decide what to do, he called the dog back.
Nevertheless, after he was shot, officers believed Campbell was potentially armed and dangerous and under cover of a vehicle, they said, and so for more than 20 minutes, no one approached Campbell to find out whether he was alive.
The police report confirms that Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) officers approached Campbell after he was shot, using a shield, and handcuffed his hands behind his back but never provided any medical assistance.
Multiple witnesses say officers called out to Campbell where he lay, commanding him to move his feet, but that it appeared he did not move at all.
A medical examiner’s report the next day determined Campbell died from the single gunshot wound to the back.
He had multiple wounds from the bean bags and dog bites on this lower right leg.
The police file does not include the autopsy report and, while large sections of the Medical Examiner’s report are blacked out, does not offer a time of death.
“Officer Frashour knew suicidal persons can be irrational, unpredictable, hostile and homicidal,” the police report said. “Officer Frashour said his first thought was what needed to be done to protect the children.”