A final decision on discipline for the Portland police officers involved in the death of Aaron Campbell, an emotionally distraught man gunned down outside his North Portland home this January, is expected in two weeks.
Police Chief Mike Reese laid out that timeline in a closed-door meeting at City Hall this afternoon attended by top police managers, Mayor Sam Adams, and members of the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform, a community group that has been outspoken about police reform.
Sources who attended the meeting—where the mayor's new gun laws and other issues were mostly discussed said Reese answered that when asked about the status of the discipline case, which Reese and Adams officially revealed on September 14.
Reports at the time said Reese had decided to fire the officer who shot Campbell, Officer Ron Frashour, and suspend the other cops involved, Officer Ryan Lewton and Sergeants John Birkinbine and Liani Reyna. But Adams and Reese would confirm only that a preliminary decision had been reached and that the accused officers would have one last chance to explain their actions in so-called mitigation hearings.
Reached after the meeting, a police bureau source did not dispute that interpretation of Reese's remarks. The mayor's office would only say that the process was nearing a conclusion.
The countdown for finding out whether the reported decision by Reese last month will stand or not comes just two days after attorneys for Campbell's family filed a federal wrongful death suit against the city and the same four cops facing discipline, seeking unspecified damages. The mayor's office and the police bureau have both declined to comment on the suit, citing the fact that it's pending litigation.
Campbell died January 29, shot dead by police responding to a report of an armed, suicidal man. Police arrived at Campbell’s that afternoon after his girlfriend’s aunt called 911, alarmed that she was unable to reach her niece and telling police that Campbell was suicidal and had a gun. A hostage negotiator, Officer James Quackenbush, reached Campbell on his cell phone and talked with him about the pain he over the recent death of his brother. Campbell, complying with the negotiator, came out of the house walking backwards with his hands over his head when Officer Lewton shot him six times in the back with a beanbag gun. As Campbell reached down toward his lower back, Officer Frashour opened fire with his AR-15 rifle.
A Multnomah County grand jury raised serious questions about the shooting, ripping it for poor training and communication—but it still found no criminal wrongdoing.