A police officer responding to a trespassing call at a Southeast Portland group home shot and killed a man who had grabbed the officer's knife and was advancing toward him, according to jury transcripts.
The Sunday, Jan. 6, shooting death of Andre C. Gladen was determined to be a lawful act of defense by a Grand Jury convened by the Multnomah County District Attorney's office a month later.
The newly released transcripts confirm that Gladen — a 36-year-old legally blind man with schizophrenia who was visiting from Sacramento — grabbed Officer Consider "Sid" Vosu's Benchmade brand fixed-blade dagger, which was clipped to Vosu's vest.
Vosu, 42, told the Grand Jury he never saw Gladen grab it. The officer said he never intended to kill Gladen, who was shot twice in the left lung and died after being taken to a hospital.
"I've never been in a situation like this before in my life where someone is actively trying to kill me," Vosu said. "I struggle with it every day."
Vosu responded to the six-person group home for mentally challenged individuals at 9610 S.E. Market St. around 2 p.m. after dispatchers received 911 calls from the home's owner, Lidiya Omelchenko, and tenant Desmond Pescaia.
Pescaia told jurors he was taking a nap when he was woken up by knocking like a "25-pound sledgehammer" on his front door. He described seeing Gladen in dirty clothes, missing his shoes and wearing a hospital gown underneath his shirt.
At first he gave Gladen a roll of quarters for TriMet, and then a glass of water, but Pescaia said Gladen kept pounding on the door for a third time, so he told his landlord and called police.
"I did not feel safe. I did not feel that I could handle the situation," Pescaia said in the transcripts. "I did not want to do anything that would bring myself or this young man harm."
Vosu arrived and approached Gladen, who was under a blanket. Pescaia came out of his house and picked up a four-foot-long tree limb, but Vosu ordered him to put it back down. That's when Gladen slipped inside the house, quickly pursued by tenant and police officer.
Gladen's wet socks caused him to slip and fall on the hardwood floor, and a struggle ensued — with Pescaia grabbing Gladen's legs and Vosu straddling Gladen's chest. Both men told the jury Gladen kicked them off. Vosu ended up in a bedroom with Gladen between him and the exit.
Vosu pulled out his Taser.
"Go ahead and 'tase' me…." Vosu said he heard Gladen say.
Gladen fell to the ground after the Taser's barbs connected with his chest, but he was back on his feet seconds later.
Pescaia and Vosu testified that they saw Gladen pull out the knife and move toward Vosu. "I observed Officer Vosu's face just turning ghost white like he was scared for his life," Pescaia said.
Vosu testified that he orally warned Gladen, then fired three rounds from his pistol, striking Gladen twice.
Oregon's Chief Medical Examiner, Michele Taylor Stauffenberg, testified that Gladen's toxicology report showed he had an anti-seizure drug, cannabinoids and recently metabolized methamphetamine in his blood, which she said indicated he used meth "within a very short period of time" prior to his death.
Gladen's cousin and fiancée, Diamond Randolph, said she woke up early that day in her 145th Avenue apartment after Gladen started talking to his deceased cousin, Ernest. Then Gladen picked up a knife and bat and threatened to kill Randolph, so she called police.
Police later found Gladen in some bushes a few blocks away. He was taken by ambulance to Portland Adventist Medical Center, but was quickly released after being given the anti-seizure drug.
Vosu followed a non-traditional path to law enforcement, spending years teaching at the School of Digital Arts in New York City and working as a digital imaging specialist at the city's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In a release, Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said detectives suspected that Vosu's knife was involved early on, but were unable to confirm it until the Grand Jury meeting.
"Following all officer-involved shootings, the Police Bureau makes every attempt to be as transparent as possible, without jeopardizing the investigation and Grand Jury process," Outlaw said.
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