Portland police shoot, kill suspect inside homeless shelter
PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland’s police chief cautioned the public Sunday to reserve judgment after a video purportedly showing several officers fatally firing on a carjacking suspect at a homeless shelter made its way online.
Chief Danielle Outlaw said in a statement that she was aware of a video taken of the incident and posted on the Internet, and asked the public to “please be reminded that deadly force investigations are extremely complex and take time.”
While responding to a report of a crash Saturday night, Portland officers learned that a car involved had been stolen in a carjacking earlier in the day, said police spokesman Sgt. Chris Burley.
Police found the man they believed to be the driver inside the nearby Cityteam Ministries Portland Shelter in southeast Portland. Officers received reports the man might be armed, Burley said. But he said it has not yet been determined if he had a weapon at the time of the shooting, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. Police did not say what prompted officers to shoot.
“As officers contacted the adult male suspect, shots were fired,” police said in a press release. “Officers immediately requested emergency medical personnel respond to the scene.”
The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.
No officers or bystanders were injured.
A few witnesses to the shooting told the newspaper that the police were justified in taking lethal action. They said the man had gone into the shelter and was slashing and stabbing himself with a knife before lunging at officers.
“We were all scared for our lives,” said Morgan Thomas Pickering, of Portland. He said the scene was “horrific” and the man was acting erratically.
The video shows a man standing across the room as almost a dozen officers stand with guns and rifles drawn. They open fire and the man falls to the floor.
“The Portland Police Bureau values human life and accepts the authority to use lethal force with great reverence,” Outlaw said. “The Police Bureau is committed to transparency and will ensure the entire investigation is released in a timely manner that does not impact the integrity of the investigation.”
John Terrio, who was in the area at the time of the shooting, said police arrived in force, some carrying rifles. They asked if anyone had seen a man in a red jacket, he said, then went inside the shelter. Terrio said he then heard about eight shots.
An Alcoholics Anonymous meeting had just begun at the time of the shooting, said Cityteam Portland Executive Director Mike Giering.
The identity of the suspect will be released at a later time. So far, there was no evidence the man was associated with the shelter.
The identities of the officers involved in the shooting will be released on Sunday, police said. Per policy, the involved officers will remain on paid administrative leave until the completion of the investigation.
Streets in the area were closed for several hours as homicide detectives and the police bureau’s internal affairs division investigated. Evidence will eventually be presented before a grand jury, as is standard in police shootings.
Three buses were parked nearby to house a large number of witnesses and police.