Protesters rally after Portland cop kills man in Lents Park
The Portland Police Bureau said an officer killed a man in Lents Park early Friday, April 16.
According to the bureau, East Precinct officers responded to a call of an armed male, who is believed to be white, around 9:30 a.m. After officers arrived, both less lethal and lethal force was used against the man. Two officers deployed less lethal 40 mm rounds and one officer used lethal force.
Authorities have not verified that the man was armed, saying specifically that a caller, presumably a member of the public, told police there was "an adult white male pointing a gun."
"I don't know that at this point," said Acting Police Chief Chris Davis, when asked during a press conference held at the East Precinct if the man pointed a gun at police. "It's still really early in this."
When asked whether police could release photographs of the weapon, the acting police chief said, "We can release that when it's appropriate to do so, and really it's a balancing act," adding that District Attorney Mike Schmidt is in charge of the investigation.
"Certainly we will make every effort as soon as we can, and as soon as it's appropriate, without potentially compromising some part of the investigation," Davis said, never specifically confirming whether a weapon was found at the scene.
The encounter took place near Lents Park at Southeast 92nd Avenue and Holgate Boulevard. Medical personnel were staged nearby, according to a news release, and officers provided emergency medical aid, but the man was pronounced deceased at the scene.
A heavy police presence responded to the park, including dozens of vehicles. A Tribune reporter at the scene saw a body bag in an area of the park that had been taped off by police. The body remained on the ground for hours before a medical examiner arrived and eventually wheeled it from the scene using a gurney.
Protesters began gathering in the park after news of the shooting quickly spread online. Demonstrators tore down crime tape at the scene, but were blocked by a line of officers armed with batons.
Protesters and police began an hours-long stare-down near Walker Stadium, where the Portland Pickles play baseball. At least one protester was pepper sprayed and others were pushed back by police.
Justin Yau, an experienced freelance reporter for the city's alt weeklies, was attacked during the protest while standing a dozen feet away from the scrimmage line and observing the scene.
An unidentified woman wearing a beret shoved Yau to the ground with no warning, bloodying the journalist and admonishing him to stop taking photographs.
Yau did not fight back during the surprise attack, but refused to surrender his camera. After shoving Yau to the ground, the woman briefly walked away then returned and leaned over Yau's prone body, attempting to wrestle his camera away from him. She then grabbed his eyeglasses off his face, scratching Yau in the process and drawing blood.
The woman snapped the prescription glasses in half and tossed them toward a nearby chain-link fence, then walked off alongside a male companion, ending the confrontation.
Soon after, the black-clad group marched away from the south police line, moving around the park and re-approaching police from the north side, closer to the area where the man was shot. Police eventually withdrew from the park, tossing smoke grenades and other "distraction devices" as protesters taunted their retreating riot vans.
The demonstrators then shut down the intersection of Holgate and 92nd, moving fencing, traffic cones, a flaming dumpster and a Tribune newspaper box into the roadway in order to block traffic. The crowd dissembled the barricades and began to disperse several hours later, after the police failed to return and some raised concerned that motorists of color were being impeded.
More rallies are expected tonight.
Police said no officers were injured. None of the officers involved in the shooting were immediately identified, although the officer who opened fire was described as an eight-year veteran.
Davis said that nearly every police officer in Multnomah County was called to the scene in response. People can expect a delay in police service on Friday afternoon due to the response to the shooting scene, he said.
Davis said the Portland Street Response Team that was created an alternative to police responses was not notified first because that would not have been appropriate.
"They don't respond to calls where it's reported that someone has a weapon," Davis said.
Mayor Ted Wheeler released the following statement while the press conference was bring held:
"These shootings always are traumatic for everyone involved and for our community, regardless of the circumstances.
"I want to offer my sympathy to the individual involved and to their family. My thoughts also are with the officers who were involved.
"I visited the scene this morning to show respect for the individual, their family, the officers, and our community. I received a preliminary briefing and will continue to receive updates as information becomes available.
"I recognize why people are concerned and possibly angry. While our understanding of this incident evolves, I urge everyone to proceed with empathy and peace."
The involved officer will remain on paid administrative leave until the completion of the Bureau, East County Major Crimes Team, and Multnomah County District Attorney Office's investigation.
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 composed of community members, bureau members and representatives from the Independent Police Review Division.
Davis is in command because Police Chief Chuck Lovell is on vacation and out of town.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune and contributed to this story.
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