First Fatal Police Shooting on Hales’ Watch 48 Hours after ‘Alien Boy’ Viewing
Asked on the sidewalk outside the theater what he planned to do to curb fatal police shootings, Hales reportedly replied, 'I’m on it'
Lisa Loving Of The Skanner News
February 18, 2013UPDATE: Portland Police have identified the victim of Sunday night's shooting as Merle Mikal Hatch, 50, who the police describe as a "career criminal with arrests in California, Arizona and Colorado on a variety of charges including Burglary, Bank Robbery, Theft, and Homicide."
Hatch may not have had a gun police revealed Tuesday, but was carrying a piece of black plastic. He had been released from prison in Salem with the understanding he would take a plane to Colorado and turn himself in to authorities there where he was slated to enter a pre-release program. Instead, police say, he robbed a Clackamas bank.
According to the police, Hatch was a fugitive sought by the U.S. Marshal's Office on bank robbery charges. Detectives are looking for anyone with information about Hatch, who they say has several aliases. To report information call Det. Bryan Steed at 503-823-0395 or email Bryan.Steed@PortlandOregon.gov.
The social media are abuzz with news that the Portland Police killed a so-far unidentified man Sunday night at Portland Adventist Medical Center.
Last night’s officer-involved shooting stands as Mayor Charlie Hales’ first while in office – and it came within 48 hours after Hales attended the Friday night premiere of “Alien Boy,” the critically-acclaimed documentary about the police killing of James Chasse now playing at Cinema 21.
Thrilled filmgoers gushed on Facebook Saturday morning that, asked on the sidewalk outside the theater what he planned to do to curb fatal police shootings, Hales replied, “I’m on it.”
Hales was on the scene of the shooting last night; he is not releasing a statement today but has been briefed on the “process of the investigation, and how it must proceed in order to find out what happened,” his spokesman said in a statement.
Hales on Monday met with the district attorney, representatives from the medical examiner’s office and the Independent Police Review Division, and will release more information “in a couple of days,” his spokesman said.
Police Bureau officials said they expected more information to come out Wednesday.
Police did not release the name of the victim, but confirmed he was a patient at Adventist who was shot in the parking lot by East Precinct officers Sgt. Nathan Voeller; Officer Andrew Hearst; and Officer Royce Curtiss (Curtiss was named in a Portland Mercury article in June of 2011 about a racial profiling stop in which a Black motorist got charges thrown out).
Portland Adventist Medical Center, located at 10123 SE Market St., was the facility that police officers were driving Chasse to when he died in the back of their squad car in 2006, cuffed and wearing a “spit sock” – a white fabric bag over his head.
The medical examiner ruled Chasse’s death the result of blunt force trauma to his chest. Chasse, who had paranoid schizophrenia and was suspected by the officers of urinating in public, sustained dozens of rib fractures after being tackled by Officer Christopher Humphreys, Portland Police Sgt. Kyle Nice and Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputy Bret Burton.
The documentary about Chasse’s life, “Alien Boy,” uses audio from phone conversations between witnesses and homicide investigators prior to the Grand Jury hearing that exonerated the officers; many documents and reports from the investigation as well as the civil trial in which Chasse’s family won a $1.6 million settlement from the City of Portland; videotaped interviews with witnesses to the police “tackle” of Chasse; and video of the officers on the stand during the civil trial.
The film also includes particularly disturbing security video and audio footage of the officers carrying a hog-tied Chasse into the jail by his hands and feet while Chasse, wearing the now blood-spattered bag over his head, cries out in pain; nearby Officer Humphries laughs and mimes his football move that brought Chasse down to the pavement with a sound witnesses described as “bouncing off the walls” of nearby buildings.
Chasse died about a half hour later, after the jailhouse nurse refused to treat him and demanded the officers take him to a hospital.
It remains unclear why the officers did not call an ambulance or take Chasse to Emanuel or OHSU, both of which are far closer to the Justice Center Jail than Adventist. Chasse died on the sidewalk on the way to the hospital after the officers noticed he had stopped moving and pulled him from the back of the squad car.
The newest fatal police shooting was first reported Sunday night, when police were called to the hospital just before 9:30 p.m., “on the report of someone in the courtyard armed with a black handgun,” a Portland Police Bureau press release says.
“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,” the statement says.
“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,” the police department statement said.
The Oregon State Medical Examiner is expected to complete an autopsy Tuesday, and officers say they will release the victim’s name after his family has been notified.
“To protect the integrity of this ongoing officer-involved shooting investigation, no additional details on this case will be released until sometime late Wednesday,” the police bureau’s statement said.
“Once the investigation is complete, the entire case will be presented to the District Attorney's Office who will schedule a Grand Jury.”
For more information about “Alien Boy,” click here.