DANE REISTER—the Portland cop facing criminal charges over a 2011 shotgun ammo mix-up that nearly killed a man—has finally been fired from the police bureau, Chief Mike Reese announced last week in a statement both brief and apologetic.
"This has been a long and thorough investigation, which had complexities due to the pending criminal charges," Reese said in prepared remarks. "The events of June 30 devastated the lives of those involved, but we hope that this action will bring some sense of closure."
The police bureau said Reister violated two directives: 315.30, which requires a minimum "sufficient competency" for police work, and 1050.00, which forbids officers from loading live rounds into a less-lethal gun. According to court files, Reister had a similar ammo mix-up during a training exercise several years ago.
The police bureau—unlike in other discipline cases—has declined to release documents that might shed more light on Reese's decision, citing exemptions in public records law for personnel files.
The Mercury and the Oregonian have both appealed the denial. The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office, which normally would adjudicate such a dispute, has combined the two newspapers' appeals and is asking its Clackamas County counterparts to handle it, in light of the ongoing criminal case.
In any case, the dismissal was not unexpected.
It came six months after the city agreed to pay $2.3 million—a record amount—in a federal suit filed by the man Reister shot, William Kyle Monroe. Monroe's attorneys, as part of their suit, had demanded Reister's dismissal.
And, the day after the incident, Reese and then-Mayor Sam Adams apologized for the shooting and the lapses that had led to it, calling it a "terrible mistake."
"We don't know how it occurred, but we know it should not happen," Reese said on July 1, 2011. "It is not a part of our training protocol."
Reister, clutching his bright-orange beanbag shotgun, had been confronting an unarmed man in a mental health crisis, 20-year-old Monroe, near a park in Southwest Portland on June 30, 2011.
Monroe, after emptying his pockets, had set off to run away. Reister then fired what he thought were beanbag rounds.
But Reister had mistakenly loaded the gun with live ammunition—after commingling the two types of rounds, marked with different colors, in his duty bag. (The police bureau has since explicitly banned this practice.)
It wasn't until Reister saw all the blood that he realized what he'd done, court files show. Monroe was shot up all through his legs and lower body and might have bled out if he hadn't been so close to a hospital, his attorneys wrote this year. Monroe's injuries are both crippling and permanent.
Reister has since pleaded not guilty to assault charges—an unprecedented indictment by a Multnomah County grand jury. Prosecutors also tried to charge Reister with "negligent wounding," an offense typically associated with hunting, not police work. That charge has been caught up in appellate court.
The dismissal could excuse the city from paying Reister's legal bills in that criminal case, whenever it wraps up. The city's contract with the Portland Police Association (PPA) requires it to pay up when officers, because of their official duties, face criminal charges. But dismissal over the conduct that led to the charges—provided the union doesn't reverse it—offers an escape hatch.
Reister's attorney, Janet Hoffman, hasn't returned messages seeking comment. She did tell the Oregonian, at least, that a grievance was expected. That decision, however, is up to the PPA's executive board. PPA President Daryl Turner declined to comment.
"We're not going to say anything right now," he told the Mercury, citing the ongoing criminal case.
Reister's dismissal marks the second time Reese has fired a cop in a use-of-force case. Reese fired Ron Frashour in 2010 for shooting and killing Aaron Campbell (although an arbitrator later gave Frashour his job back). It's also the first major police discipline under Mayor Charlie Hales.
Said the mayor, in a statement: "This is an appropriate ending to a very sad story."