The Portland police officer who stumbled while backing away from a homeless man with a crowbar last month, then shot the man in the chest, won't face criminal charges.
Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill's office just sent out a short release, saying a grand jury decided the shooting death of 23-year-old Nicholas Glendon Davis "was justified under criminal law."
Davis was killed on the morning of June 12, after officers responded to a robbery call from a homeless man on the Springwater Corridor, a recreational trail that snakes from the Willamette River out to the town of Boring. According to police, Davis—the alleged aggressor in the conflict—pulled out a three-foot crowbar and began menacing Portland Officer Robert Brown and another officer. While backing away, Brown tripped and fell. He shot Davis in the chest when the man kept coming, police say.
There aren't many concrete or official details on Davis' death—though presumably the grand jury transcripts will eventually be made public—but the Mercury's spoken with several people who give conflicting accounts of what lead to the shooting.
As we reported in June, Davis' best friend claims Davis had recently purchased a bicycle, not knowing it was stolen. When he was confronted by the bike's rightful owner on the Springwater, a fight ensued, and the police were called, Brandon Mitchell said.
Some campers on the Springwater give a different tale. A woman named Candy Butterfield recently told the Mercury it was her partner who called police on Davis. Butterfield, who's lived off the Springwater for nearly a year, said her boyfriend was looking for scrap metal near Johnson Creek on June 12, when Davis approached and demanded the man leave, apparently indicating the man was trespassing on Davis' living space. Butterfield said her boyfriend retreated, leaving a bike and bike trailer, and called police. She said it was her crowbar, taken from the bike trailer, that Davis used to menace officers.
Davis had been homeless on and off for nearly five years, friends and family say, and had struggled with mental health issues. City officials who patrol the trail say campsites are becoming more frequent, which has spurred recent enforcement of Portland's law against camping.