Standing alongside police accountability advocates outside City Hall this morning, the mother of a suicidal man who was shot in the back by Portland police in January 2010 explained why she settled a federal case for $1.2 million just days before trial and then called for structural reforms in how cops are trained on the use of lethal force.
"I don't want to relive this again. It hurts," said Marva Davis, mother of Aaron Campbell, when asked why she settled instead of enduring a court battle against the city of Portland that was supposed to begin February 7.
Davis was joined by her attorney, Tom Steenson, and members of the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform. Steenson, in the wake of last week's settlement, has called for the police bureau to remedy what appears to be a gap in rhetoric about use of deadly force from police brass like Chief Mike Reese and what the bureau's actual trainers are teaching.
A story in the Oregonian, posted last night, looked at court documents from early January that showed several bureau trainers had been preparing to testify that Reese was wrong when he fired the cop who shot Campbell, Ron Frashour, in November 2010.
The reason? They say Frashour's decision to shoot Campbell, who flinched and ran off when he was hit by a beanbag gun while surrendering to police, was precisely the one he was trained to make. As it stands, they tell cops that suspects don't need to be pointing a gun, as Reese has indicated, to be justifiably shot.
"The AMA Coalition stands in support of the recommendations that have come out of the civil suit to help reform the Portland Police Bureau, especially the contradiction between policy and training within the bureau," said Pastor LeRoy Haynes, the AMA's director.
Haynes also urged that the US Department of Justice, currently investigating how Portland cops use force, address that discrepancy in whatever recommendations it produces.
"Let us use this historical moment in a positive way to transform the Portland Police Bureau," he said.