Police: Suspect's behavior escalated before fatal shooting
Portland police have released more details about the officer-involved shooting of a car jacking suspect in a homeless shelter on Saturday.
New details include the names of the Portland officers and Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Deputy involved in the shooting. Police have also released a timeline of their encounters with John Andrew Elifritz, who died in the shooting.
All of those involved in the shooting are on paid administrative leave, which is normal policy: That are: Officer Richard Bailey, a two-year bureau veteran; Officer Justin Damerville, seven-year bureau veteran; Officer Kameron Fender, an eight-year bureau veteran;
Officer Alexandru Martiniuc, a six-year bureau veteran; Officer Bradley Nutting, an 11-year bureau veteran;
Officer Chad Phifer, a 10-year bureau veteran; Officer Andrew Polas, a 14-year bureau veteran; and Deputy Aaron Sieczkowski, a six-year sheriff's office veteran.
The release of the names was delayed while police investigated a threat against the officers and deputy. No viable threat was found.
The Oregon State Medical Examiner confirmed that Elifritz, 48, died of gunshot wounds. Toxicology results are pending.
Police say the bureau is continuing to investigate the in the Cityteam Ministries Portland Shelter, located at 526 Southeast Grand Avenue.
There were also 12 officer witnesses, all of whom have been interviewed by investigators. There were also numerous community members who have been interviewed.
Police say investigators learned the timeline of events on the day of the shooting. Based on information gathered at this time, it is believed Elifritz was involved in the following incidents:
• On April 7, at approximately 2:25 p.m., a man who identified himself as Elifritz called 9-1-1 and reported his family had been murdered and gave a location in the 4400 Block of Southeast 79th Avenue. Officers responded to the location, which was a duplex under construction. The contractor at the location said a man (described as Elifritz) had been outside earlier and appeared to be acting in a bizarre manner. No one was found inside the duplex. Police later confirmed Elifritz's family was safe.
• Other officers located Elifritz at Southeast 86th Avenue and Southeast Holgate Boulevard and attempted to contact him, but he backed away from them, retrieved a knife from his pocket and held it up to his throat. Elifritz ran from officers and a decision was to de-escalate the situation by not pursuing him, but rather make a referral to the Bureau's Behavioral Health Unit for follow-up.
• As officers were debriefing the incident, a community member approached them and said a man was waving a knife and had just attempted to carjack him. The victim did not want to report the crime, but wanted the police to be aware of the incident.
• At 4:37 p.m., a 9-1-1 call was made by a woman who reported her 2003 silver Honda CRV had just been stolen from her by force at Southeast 72nd Avenue and Southeast Foster Road. Officers responded and learned a woman had struggled with Elifritz, who had jumped into the passenger seat and was wrestling for control of the vehicle. Meanwhile, the woman's father was in a separate vehicle behind her at the stoplight. He got out of his vehicle and was able to disengage his daughter from the suspect. The suspect jumped in the driver's seat of the car and drove away.
• At 7:25 p.m., a 9-1-1 call was made by a man who reported he and his family had been a victim of road rage in the area of North Columbia and North Chautauqua boulevards. Officers responded and learned the suspect in this case was Elifritz in the stolen Honda CRV. The victim said the driver was tailgating him and driving next to him in the bike lane and pointed a black object at him, which he believed to be a gun.
• At 7:29 p.m., a 9-1-1 call was made by a man who said he saw Elifritz jump out of a moving vehicle on Southeast Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard and Southeast Stark Street. Police responded and the community member said the man appeared to be "drunk or high" and had left eastbound on Southeast Stark Street.
• At 7:46 p.m., a 9-1-1 call was made by a community member in the 600 block of Southeast Grand Avenue, who said a man had been standing in the doorway of a store for the last five to 10 minutes, holding a knife in his hand. At 7:50 p.m., the call was updated that Elifritz was walking southbound on Southeast Grand Avenue.
• At 7:55 p.m., it was reported a man had been standing in front of the 500 Block of Southeast Grand Avenue, holding a knife to another person's throat.
• At 7:58 p.m., officers responded to the Cityteam Ministries Portland Shelter, where there were a number of community members present. The suspect was located inside the location. Officers deployed less lethal and then broadcast that shots were fired at 8:00 p.m.
Police say this is an active and ongoing investigation. The bureau's directive outlining the procedures followed after an officer involved shooting may be found at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/article/656780
Interviews with witnesses and others continue. The bureau says it will also be reviewing additional videos of the incident. The vehicle in question has been towed and will be processed.
As part of the use of force review process, the Bureau will conduct an internal review of the entire incident and the case will go before the Police Review Board, which is comprised of community members, Bureau members and representatives from the Independent Police Review Division.
The results of the criminal investigation will be presented to a Multnomah County grand jury, which is established procedure.
Once the entire investigation and legal process is complete, the investigative files and any grand jury transcripts will be posted on the Bureau's Open Data page and can be found here: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/52175
To see a previous Portland Tribune story, go to https://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/391810-283822-wheeler-urges-patience-in-police-shooting-investigation.