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A recent opinion column in the Tribune failed to note the story behind many officer-involved shootings.

I was saddened by the anti-Police bias written by Cristal Otero in her Portland Tribune guest column that was published Dec. 26.

She implies that Portland Police kill people with "mental health" problems in a "systemic" manner. The police are NOT killers; they are doing their jobs protecting people from out-of-control persons, often on major drugs, brandishing weapons that they refuse to drop or from persons acting so, or as if they are reaching suddenly for a weapon. In every case they refused to drop their weapon, or submit to arrest, or refused to raise their hands to show that they were not hiding weapons, or made rapid hand movements to their waistband, or charged the officers.

She lists the names of 27 dead, but apparently did not research the actual circumstances. But I have a long memory and remember well many of the multiple articles in the Oregonian and local TV news.

Aaron Campbell's erratic actions at home after a funeral caused his family to call for police help when he had a gun and was acting suicidal and threatening enough that the whole family fled him. After a police standoff Campbell came out with his hands on his head but refused many commands to stop and raise his hands high to show that he was not hiding the gun (almost any handgun can be hidden on top of the head). After being shot with a bean-bag round for compliance he turned and ran to cover, which threatened his nearby family. But the police could not allow that possibility.

Keaton Otis led police on a car chase around North Portland. When finally pulled over by many police cars, Keaton waited until an officer came near his car window. Then Keaton fired two shots into the officer's groin, possibly knowing that the bullet-proof vest did not cover there, and he only stopped shooting because cops shot him dead.

Seventeen-year-old Quantice Hayes was sought in an early morning search, after an armed robbery. He was discovered climbing through a broken-out basement window in a stranger's home. When commanded to put his hands up, Hayes instead made a rapid reach for his waistband and was shot. Under his body was a realistic air pistol that looked exactly like a real gun.

John Elifritz was pursued by police after stabbing and carjacking someone and menacing others and then crashing in front of the shelter. Despite a lengthy standoff where Elifritz refused negotiation and multiple commands to drop the knife, the police had to kill him when he began lunging at people with his knife.

I don't know how many police killings in Portland were deliberate "suicide-by-cop" actions, but there seem to be many. Pointing a gun at a cop is suicide; charging them with a shiny object is suicide; rapidly reaching for the pocket or waist when challenged, "Do not move!" is suicide. Every law enforcement officer knows the "Twenty-one Foot Rule" that anyone within that distance can leap and kill an officer with a knife before they can draw and fire! Things happen fast in lethal police occurrences, and they do not have time to guess.

Current criticism of the police causes them to hesitate in danger — and this kills officers of the law. Statistics show every year over 100 law officers are killed nationally on the job by violence, and every officer knows it well. No wonder that some of them are tense! I hope that all police officers keep in mind the old saying, "It is better to be tried by 12, than to be carried by six!"

L Todd Sullivan is a Portland resident.


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