US DOJ will investigate federal shooting of protester
Oregon U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams announced Monday that the U.S. Department of Justice will now investigate the shooting of a protester by a federal officer.
Williams originally told Mayor Ted Wheeler the investigation would be conducted by the U.S Marhals Service. But Williams then released the following statement on July 13:
"Per U.S. Marshals Service protocols, their internal investigation of this weekend's incident has now been referred to the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. We must respectfully decline further comment on this matter."
Donavan La Bella, 26, was apparentlyt struck in the head by a 'less lethal' round fired by a federal officer at the downtown U.S. Courthouse during a Saturday night protest. His mother said he underwent surgery for a skull fracture and is hospitalized in serious condition.
Wheeler said he had spoken to U.S. Attorney Bill Williams about the incident Sunday and learned that the U.S. Marshals Service would be conducting a full investigation into the incident.
"A person was seriously injured in Portland last night. This should not have happened. I spoke with U.S. Attorney Bill Williams about the injuries and learned that the U.S. Marshals Service will be conducting a full investigation. I am calling on the federal government to be thorough and transparent with their findings. I'm concerned that the actions of federal officers last night escalated, rather than de-escalated, already heightened tensions in our city," Wheeler said in a statement released Sunday evening.
Wheeler also called for an end to the nightly downtown protests that frequently result in violent confrontations with law enforcement officers.
"I am also calling on our city, county and federal partners as well as our entire community to join me in our call to move our city forward in peace so that we can begin the necessary work of rebuilding, reforming, protecting our community from a global pandemic, and dismantling systemic racism. We must end this nightly violence in Portland. Lives are at stake," Wheeler said.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and U.S. Senator Ron Wyden have accused federal officers of causing violence at recent downtown Porland protests.
Both gave scathing remarks Sunday when asked to comment on videos showing federal officers firing an impact munition at the protester. Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty also condemned the presence of federal troops in the city.
On Saturday night, a man was seen getting struck in the head in front of the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse being guarded by federal officers during a night of protesting.
Brown weighed in on the incident Sunday saying, "The events of last night at the federal courthouse were the tragic and avoidable result of President Donald Trump, for weeks, continuing to push for force and violence in response to protests."
Wyden also placed blame on the president with a message on Twitter:
"The consequences of Donald Trump unilaterally dispatching federal law enforcement into U.S. cities played out in Portland w/a peaceful protester shot in the head. Trump & Homeland Security must now answer why fed'l officers are acting like an occupying army."
In a statement, Hardesty said that "federal troops need to withdraw immediately," but that this alone will not solve the issue.
"Last week it was disconcerting to see militarized federal officers with war weapons embedded with the Portland Police Bureau and stationed around Portland. Since then their presence brought on an escalation of violence towards protesters — an extreme response to a movement challenging police violence," Hardesty said.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Jim Redden contributed to this story.
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