Officer cleared in killing, says suspect turned on him with knife during chase

A police officer assigned to TriMet's Transit Division says he shot and killed a man he was chasing who suddenly turned around with a box cutter-style knife.

A Multnomah County grant jury cleared Officer Samuel Ajir of any criminal wrongdoing last month. In grant jury transcripts released by the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office on Thursday, Ajir says he was falling backward after retreating and unexpectedly hitting a curb when he followed the first shot. When the suspect did not stop, he fired more shots from the ground.

Terrell Johnson, 24, died at the scene. The shooting has been protested by his family and activists who say it shows why armed officers should not patrol the TriMet system.

But the transcript also includes testimony from witnesses who say Johnson menanced them before police arrived. Jacob Leiker, 17, said Johnson chased him with what he believed was a sharp object in his hand in the time leading up to the May 10 confrontation with police.

Ajir told he grand jury that he did recognize Johnson during the confrontation, although he had helped arrest him two weeks for stealing a bicycle.

The police bureau is now conducting an internal affairs to determine if the shooting was consistent with the bureau policies.

You can read the transcripts at