Lingering questions and outrage over the February 9 police shooting of 17-year-old Quanice Hayes spilled into Portland City Council this morning, disrupting proceedings as family members of the teen called for answers and pressed for discipline.
Shortly after 10 am, Mayor Ted Wheeler allowed Hayes' mother, Venus, to address council, as a room full of demonstrators looked on. In an impassioned, tearful plea, the woman said her family had been forced to search for clues into her son's death from social media, and asked anyone with more details into the morning Hayes was shot to come forward.
"It’s been 20 days since Quanice was taken from me," Venus Hayes told the council. "As details are released slowly to the public, my family has had the bitter burden of piecing together what occurred…rather than receiving them from those working his investigation."
She continued: "Quanice was not a thug or a gang member, or some homeless street kid. He was a funny adventurous teen who like most kid at times could be a little rebellious. He was a child. His life mattered."
The testimony inspired Wheeler to offer Venus Hayes a hug, and set the meeting—being held in the Portland Building because of ongoing work at City Hall—into a familiar routine of chanting, leading council to recess.
Hayes was killed the morning of February 9. According to the police account, officers were responding to reports of an armed robbery and a car prowler near NE 82nd and Hancock. As they searched for a suspect using police dogs, Officer Andrew Hearst came upon Hayes on NE Hancock. It's unclear what occurred, but Hearst fired three shots, killing Hayes. Police have said the teen had a replica handgun on him.
In the hallway outside of the Portland Building auditorium where city council was meeting, other members of Hayes family spoke. His cousin, Terrence (not sure of spelling), argued that any black male who fit a certain description the morning of Hayes' death would have been in danger.
His mother, meanwhile, called for discipline for Hearst, who was cleared for his role in the 2013 shooting death of Merle Hatch. Venus Hayes told reporters that regardless of what happens in the investigation into her son's death, Hearst shouldn't be an officer any longer.
Wheeler also made an appearance amid the scrum, applauding Hayes' family for their bravery in showing up, and promising a transparent investigation. Wheeler also told the crowd that he'd asked that the transcript into the grand jury hearing on the shooting be released. Something he didn't mention? That's already the Multnomah County DA's common practice for police shootings.
Shortly after 11 am, City Council reconvened.