AN IRAQ WAR VET who reportedly struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder—and admitted trying suicide at least once before—became the second man shot by Portland cops this year after, police say, he fired a shotgun at two officers atop a Lloyd District parking garage late Monday, March 4.
Santiago A. Cisneros III, 32, missed both cops, who returned fire and sent him slumping to the concrete, where he was arrested and then packed inside an ambulance. He later died at an unidentified Portland hospital, the police bureau and Multnomah County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed early Tuesday, March 5.
Cisneros' death comes a little more than two weeks after police shot and killed a man who charged at them with a phone handset outside Portland's Adventist Medical Center—a shooting caught on cell phone video and widely cast as a "suicide by cop." It also came the night before another court hearing over a federal investigation into the city's unconstitutional use of force against the mentally ill.
In police accounts of the shooting released on Tuesday, it wasn't mentioned why Cisneros was inside the parking garage, used by Metro at NE 7th and Lloyd, just across from the Oregon State Office Building. It also wasn't clear why two officers, each driving their own cars, had gone inside the garage. Asked for these details, and whether officers were responding to a suicide call about Cisneros, police spokesman Sergeant Pete Simpson declined to comment.
"All of those things are still being investigated," Simpson told the Mercury.
What is clear is just how quickly the confrontation unfolded.
According to a statement from the bureau, the cops who killed Cisneros had reached the top level of the garage about 10:45 pm when, "unexpectedly, the officers were immediately confronted by a man associated with a vehicle."
Cisneros had a shotgun, for whatever reason, and waited only a few seconds to blast it "multiple" times at the officers. The two officers then fired back, dropping him to the ground—still moving, still apparently within reach of the shotgun. Another group of cops then coursed atop the garage, and one of them grabbed a ballistic shield before creeping toward Cisneros to arrest him.
As of press time, Simpson said he expected to name the officers who shot Cisneros on Wednesday, March 6. Both officers work afternoons in North Precinct—one with 10 years at the bureau overall, the other with four. They're on paid leave and are scheduled to be interviewed by investigators on Thursday, March 7—after the controversial 48-hour waiting period spelled out in the Portland Police Association's contract with the city.
Cisneros, according to his LinkedIn résumé, listed himself as a legal intern at Seattle law firm Chung, Malhas, Mantel, and Robinson. A woman who answered the phone at the firm the morning after the shooting said she wasn't authorized to release any information about Cisneros and took a message that wasn't returned.
The last man police shot atop a parking garage was Bradley Morgan in 2012. He had threatened suicide before pointing, police said, a replica handgun at officers.
In 2009, Cisneros was among three subjects in a Seattle TV news story about veterans struggling with mental illness. He told KOMO he tried to kill himself eight months after leaving Iraq—only to find help with his PTSD through the Veterans Administration.
This was his last quote in the story: "I've started to build a foundation of hope and humanity again."