Portland Police Officer Jason Walters is the very model of a law enforcement professional.
Named, in February, the bureau's Cop of the Month for March, he's been an officer for 13 years, and patrolled his Southwest Portland beat for the past five -- building relationships with locals and even the transients in Forest Park.
Walters' college degree includes a minor in psychology. He's had Crisis Intervention Training and many other kinds of specialized education opportunities offered within the bureau.
However his training and experience seemed to fail him when he shot and killed Jack Dale Collins, who had emerged, drenched in blood, from a Hoyt Arboretum restroom March 22.
A massive file on the case, released yesterday by the Portland Police Bureau, shows that witnesses at the Arboretum and staff at the facility's offices reported a drunken transient had threatened passersby.
Walters' testimony on the shooting indicates he "self-dispatched" to the non-emergency Arboretum call because no one else had, and ten minutes had already passed since the 9-1-1 calls had come in.
As he set off for the Arboretum in his police cruiser, Walters radioed to request the CHIERS detox van to meet him at the location.
Walters then called to check with the Arboretum staff, who told him that the transient had retreated to the bathroom and was not posing imminent danger.
The officer testified that he had no worries as he arrived at the scene, because he knew almost all the transients in the area by name, knew the Arboretum area very well, and had responded to this exact sort of call many times over the years.
Yet according to the police reports and other records in the case the bureau released yesterday, Walters was simply shocked, surprised and scared by his encounter with Collins – who refused to drop a pencil-sized X-acto knife and continued to advance on the officer.
"Confronted with the blood covered man, Walters said he didn't know where the blood had come from," says the report. "He couldn't see into the bathroom so he couldn't tell if there was someone else in there."
His report indicates Walters commanded Collins to drop the X-acto several times before drawing his revolver.
"Officer Walters said it surprised him so much because those commands usually work on people when asked to draw a knife," the report said.
Walters testified that he struck Collins with a burst of gunfire but that he didn't fall; rather Collins kept walking towards him at a "medium-paced, deliberate walk." When Collins was 8 to ten feet away, Walters fired again, and Collins fell.
In total, Walters shot two rounds from his service gun, striking the homeless, mentally ill transient in the arms and leg.
He called for medical assistance immediately after firing the shots, according to his testimony, but Collins bled to death before medical services arrived. The medical examiner's report on his death has not yet been released.
A grand jury last week cleared Walters of criminal charges, and records of their deliberations are expected to be made public as were those in the January fatal police shooting of Aaron Campbell.
Police documents in the 459-page Collins file show that officers on the scene followed standard operating procedure after the shooting by ordering the 58-year-old man to lie still and show his hands.
The officers formed a "custody team" to approach Collins where he lay in front of the Hoyt Arboretum visitor center.
One officer reported that Collins seemed to hold his head up slightly when police first arrived on the scene, then again when an officer "yell[ed] at the subject to lay flat and show his hands."
After that Collins stopped moving completely. When the four-man "custody team" reached Collins side, they could see he was dead but had an AMR emergency medical technician check his pulse.
When the technician declared Collins dead, the officers proceeded to use flex cuffs to handcuff the body's hands behind its back.
"Per our training and general orders, we always handcuff subjects after a shooting," Officer Michael Bledsoe testified.
In his police report, Bledsoe said Collins' wrists were so bloody he needed help to apply the flex cuffs, which kept slipping.
Read the entire report at