At tonight's monthly vigil for Keaton Otis, a mentally ill man shot by police in May 2010, Otis' father, Fred Bryant, is planning to stand before reporters and TV cameras and release photos that he says will show his son was holding up his hands when he was shot—not grabbing for, and then firing, a gun as police and others have determined.
Bryant, when reached by phone today, wouldn't detail the photos before the press conference. But an announcement sent this morning says "Mr. Bryant will also share photos showing that bullets hit Keaton in the hands, thus supporting the contention that Keaton had his hands up, and making it more unlikely Keaton had a gun."
Bryant also is planning to ask why the city hasn't yet let him appeal a Police Review Board finding that cleared the officers who shot his son, unanimously finding them all within policy. I first reported on this issue back in April, when a newly enhanced cell-phone video of Otis' shooting made its way on the Internet.
Attorney Shauna Curphey wrote a letter to Independent Police Review Director Mary-Beth Baptista back in February wondering why Bryant, who says he filed a tort-claim notice with the city, wasn't told of the review board's findings in time to appeal them.
In cases that don't involve fatal police shootings, complainants are apprised of the review board's findings so they can turn to the Citizen Review Committee if they don't like what they've been handed.. But police shootings, because they're automatically investigated and sent to review boards independently from the IPR process, fall into a gray area.
Curphey tells me she's not gotten a firm answer back from Baptista, in "collegial" discussions, about how or whether Bryant can proceed. Curphey says she was told by Deputy City Attorney David Woboril that the Portland City Council might have to decide the issue by amending the current ordinance. Baptista and Woboril have not yet returned messages seeking comment.
"If there's ambiguity, they need to explain it," Curphey says. "The fact that they've given no answer it all is really troubling."