Venus Hayes, center, Quanice Hayes mother, addresses reporters at a press conference last March.
Venus Hayes, center, Quanice Hayes' mother, addresses reporters at a press conference last March. Doug Brown

It's been almost a year since 17-year-old Quanice Hayes was shot and killed by Portland police, who had the teen on his knees, at gunpoint, in front of an East Portland home.

Many details of the day Hayes died were made available in a grand jury transcript, which suggested Hayes might have used a toy gun to rob a houseless man the morning he died, and suggested police believed he was armed when they cornered the teen hours later. But a new story by Portland journalist Leah Sottile, published on Longreads this morning, goes deeper than any past coverage, melding interviews with Hayes' loved ones with the grand jury account to look at the circumstances of Hayes' death—and also meditate on the role replica and toy guns have played in police shootings locally and nationally.

It's a great and sad read, which also manages to break some news: After some indecision, Hayes' family plans to sue the City of Portland.

Sottile reports that she recently got a call from local attorney Jesse Merrithew, who "says that the Hayes family plans to take legal action. This week, they’ll send a tort claim notice to the city of Portland informing them of plans to sue."

We reached out to Merrithew for details this morning. He says the tort claim notice—a first step in filing a lawsuit against City Hall—hasn't been filed yet, but that attorneys are tentatively planning a press conference this Thursday to announce the matter.

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Hayes' family has long argued the teen did nothing to merit being shot three times by Portland Officer Andrew Hearst on the morning of February 9, 2017. Officers interviewed after the shooting said they didn't see Hayes draw the toy handgun he'd been seen with. Instead, Hearst shot Hayes when, while on his knees crawling toward officers, Hayes reached behind his back. A grand jury declined to file criminal charges against Hearst.

The incident caused outcry for months last year, and led to Hayes' family being given an unprecedented hearing before city council to air their grief and grievances.