PSU settles with family of Jason Washington
The family of a man shot and killed in June 2018 by university police in downtown Portland will get $1 million from Portland State University.
A settlement agreement has been reached between PSU and the family of Jason Washington, who was fatally shot after a fight outside a bar on June 29, 2018.
In a joint statement from PSU and the Washington family Tuesday, Dec. 31, university officials said PSU reached an agreement with the family in exchange for an agreement not to proceed with a lawsuit against the university.
"Mr. Washington's death was tragic, and our campus community mourns his loss," PSU President Stephen Percy said in the joint statement, noting that Washington was a Navy veteran and longtime U.S. Postal Service worker. "His death made us significantly reassess our approach to campus safety."
Washington, 45, was killed by university police who responded to a fight involving a gun outside the Cheerful Tortoise bar. Bystanders and other reports indicate he may have been trying to break up the fight.
Officers said they saw Washington with a gun and feared for their lives, but critics said police were quick to open fire and exercised poor judgment, resulting in Washington's death.
Body camera footage from the incident shows officers yelled "drop the gun!" toward a group of several men, then quickly fired several rounds.
A Multnomah County grand jury reviewed the incident and cleared the officers of any wrongdoing. After PSU's board of trustees voted to arm its campus cops in 2014, it voted again in October 2019 to maintain its armed university police force, with enhanced oversight and training, including de-escalation tactics. PSU police operate independently from the Portland Police Bureau.
As part of the settlement agreement, a portion of the $1 million will be used to establish the Jason Washington Memorial Scholarship.
PSU noted it will also require its officers to complete additional post-academy training.
Michelle Washington, Jason Washington's widow, said the settlement agreement acknowledges the family's "profound loss."
"However, the pain and emptiness that we are consumed with daily will be part of us for the rest of our lives," she said. "Our goal is that these changes will bring about awareness and help prevent this type of tragedy from ever occurring again. We pray that no family will ever endure the pain and suffering of losing someone as irreplaceable as Jason.
"Our focus for the future will be to keep Jason's memory alive by establishing a memorial scholarship. This will serve as a reminder of Jason's huge impact on not only his family and friends, but the entire community. Jason is and always will be remembered as a God loving, caring family man that was a friend to all."
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