An unarmed man was shot in the back and killed by a Portland police officer Friday night, even as the city of Portland awaits a judge's ruling on a change of venue in the police killing of James Chasse in 2006.
Police officials say that the man committed "suicide by cop," but several witnesses claim he was shot even as he was complying with officers' commands.
A relative who spoke with The Skanner News Wednesday says family members on the phone with Campbell had talked him out of killing himself and that he was giving himself up to the police just before he was shot.
Aaron Marcell Campbell, 26, was killed Jan. 29 after a 90-minute standoff with police initially called to the scene for a "welfare check." Police say a friend of Campbell's girlfriend called 9-1-1 to report that he may have been armed with a gun and suicidal.
Campbell's brother had died from heart failure that morning after a long hospital stay, and family members say he was depressed and discussing suicide for the past several days.
However Campbell's cousin Mynika Campbell says she, her brother Devon and other relatives were in a car rushing to the police standoff as Devon spoke with Aaron on a cell phone.
"My brother told him 'don't do it, you'll put so much on your mother,'" Mynika Campbell said. "You could hear the police over the phone saying 'come out, we won't hurt you, we won't hurt you,' and then Aaron said, 'okay,' and then he hung up the phone and they shot him."
The Portland police radio transcript released to the public Tuesday afternoon appears to confirm part of the Campbells' story.
"FYI, frantic relative guy is enr(oute) loc(ation) from 50/Kill(ingsworth), insisting he can talk Aaron down or something," a supervisor at the scene said. "I told him he can't go to the scene, he said he's coming anyway. He was not hostile but very upset."
According to the police account, after the first officer arrived at the scene of the apartment complex where Campbell lived at Northeast 128 and Sandy Boulevard at about 4:30 p.m., Campbell's girlfriend came out to speak with officers, advising them that Campbell was depressed, suicidal, had a gun, and that three small children were in the apartment with him.
More officers were called to the scene as well as a hostage negotiation expert, the police say, and about one hour after the initial call the children, aged two, three and five, walked safely out of the apartment.
As more backup officers arrived to guard a perimeter around the building, the police say Campbell "unexpectantly came out of the door of the apartment," at 6:07 p.m.
"Officers at the scene have stated that Campbell began moving very quickly backwards and refused an officer's commands to put his hands up in the air," says a police department release on the incident made public Tuesday afternoon. "Instead Campbell kept his hands behind his neck and then began to lower his hands," allegedly yelling that officers were going to have to shoot him.
The police statement says Campbell began to run back towards the building, at which point he was shot with six beanbag rounds in the back, and then shot once in the back with an AR-15 rifle by Officer Ronald Frashour, an eight-year veteran of the force.
Witnesses interviewed by KATU at the scene Friday night dispute that sequence of events.
"They shot him, okay?" witness Kenny Boyer told KATU reporter Bob Heye Friday night. "He had his hands up, just like this; he was just basically trying to surrender.
"Any time when your hands are up you're no longer a threat. Your hands are up, so what can you do?"
Boyer told the television news team that's when Campbell was shot in the back by the beanbag rounds, which the witness said prompted Campbell to reach for the spot on his back where he had been injured.
"He came completely out of the house with his hands on top of his head, he walked back to the police just like they said," a second witness, Robert Montgomery, told Heye. "Just watching the whole thing is pretty traumatizing."
The shooting comes as Portland attorneys are fighting for a change of venue in the lawsuit filed by relatives of James Chasse Jr., beaten to death by officers in 2006 after they said he urinated in public and then became noncompliant.
Chasse, 42, suffered from schizophrenia. He died from blunt force trauma to the chest in the back of a police car after the arresting officers were turned away from the jail and told to take him to the hospital.
Also sued in the Chasse wrongful death case, Multnomah County last year made a $925,000 payout to Chasse's family, and American Medical Response, whose paramedics had reported his vital signs as "normal" during his arrest, settled for a reported $600,000.
The Chasse court case against the City of Portland is scheduled to open Feb. 16.
Meanwhile, Mynika Campbell said her family is planning a double funeral.