THE PORTLAND POLICE are off the hook in the May shooting of 25-year-old Keaton Otis near Lloyd Center—last week a grand jury, to no one's surprise, found the officers involved in the shooting not liable for any crime.
The grand jury isn't the only group that's fine with seeing the city move on: Both the Otis family and the Portland Police Bureau seem happy to bury the hatchet. I'm surprised. This is a tragic encounter that left a police officer wounded and a young Portlander shot with 23 bullets. You'd think someone, somewhere would be angry, right? Ah, Portland.
This Tuesday, June 1, at a press conference graced by Police Chief Mike Reese and Mayor Sam Adams, the word everyone kept repeating was "healing." And "community," but that's no different from every single other meeting held in Adams-era Portland.
After showing an animated PowerPoint eerily resembling Pac-Man, Chief Reese turned up the compassion.
"My heart and the hearts of everyone in my organization go out to the family of Keaton Otis for the loss of their loved one," said Reese.
"It's a terrible tragedy. You have a young man who is mentally ill in possession of a handgun," he continued, later.
Maybe it's because I've been watching too much of The Wire, but I thought police typically raise some hell when an officer gets shot, not extend condolences to the shooter's family.
In the wake of three civilian fatalities due to police bullets this year, it's clear that the police are focusing on the "good cop" style of public relations. If I weren't cynical about the sentiment being just smart PR, I would say it's a welcome change.
The still-ongoing investigation into the incident did turn up some interesting details, however. For one, skeptics have been asking for weeks why Otis was initially pulled over.
"Was it because he was a young black man?" asked OPB reporter April Baer, who can maybe get away with that kind of direct questioning because she is very pregnant and also a crack shot with a police handgun (trust me).
Reese explained that the cops thought Otis looked suspicious because he was slouching, looking at them in his rearview mirror, and also wearing a hood in hot weather.
Wait—what happened to the good-cop talk? If the police are going to get suspicious of every slouchy, hoodie-wearing Portlander, they might as well arrest the entire staff of the Bye and Bye right now.