The Multnomah County District Attorney's office released grand jury transcripts this morning from the January 6 officer-involved shooting that left Andre Gladen, a 36-year-old Black man, dead. The transcripts reveal new information about a case that's left the public—and Gladen's family—with many unanswered questions.
Before we point those out, here's a refresher on what we already know about the fatal encounter:
Gladen, who was legally blind and diagnosed with schizophrenia, was shot by Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Officer Consider Vosu on January 6 after he refused to leave the front steps of a house in Southeast Portland. Gladen arrived at the house barefoot, wearing a hospital gown and with a hospital ID bracelet, and told the man living at the address, Desmond Pescaia, that someone was trying to kill him. He appeared to be in a mental health crisis.
Pescaia said he tried to offer Gladen cash to pay for a bus ticket and water, but Gladen remained on Pescaia's front steps. Pescaia's landlord called 911 after Gladen refused to leave.
Officer Vosu arrived at the house by himself. When Gladen saw the officer, he managed to run past Pescaia—who had opened the door—into the house. Vosu ran in after Gladen, and tried to handcuff him—but Gladen resisted. This resistance prompted Vosu to use a taser on Gladen. Vosu said that's when he saw Gladen was holding a knife. When Gladen refused to drop it, Vosu shot him three times. Gladen was dead by the time first responders dropped him off at a hospital.
A Multnomah County grand jury cleared Vosu of any criminal charges in February, believing he had acted in self defense.
Gladen's family, who has said they plan on suing the City of Portland for Gladen's death, say Gladen had previously taken medication for schizophrenia. However, his family didn't known why Gladen was at the hospital on the morning of his death.
Despite PPB making its investigative files on Gladen's death public in March, major details about the circumstances surrounding Gladen's death have remained foggy. The grand jury transcript, made public Thursday morning, helps clear up a few of those mysteries—and creates a few new ones.
Here are the most significant takeaways from the 247-page transcript:
Gladen was at the hospital for potential hypothermia. Earlier that morning, Gladen was discovered by police officers laying in a bush with just a shirt and boxers. It was 30 degrees outside, so they called an ambulance to take him to Portland Adventist Hospital to be examined for hypothermia. According to PPB Detective Erik Kammerer, who got access to Gladen's medical records: "In reading the medical records, the doctors there [thought] he had a seizure, so they prescribed an anti-epileptic for him, which appears to improve him to the point where he is then discharged from the hospital." Kammerer said that while he's "not a doctor," the medical records show that his hospital stay had nothing to do with his mental health.
Vosu regularly answers these types of 911 calls by himself. Vosu, who patrols the East Precinct, told the grand jury that he responds to a high number of calls where a business or home owner wants the police to remove a "transient" from their property. Often, that person has left by the time he shows up, but "close to 100 percent" of the time, the person leaves without a problem. He frequently responds to these low-level calls by himself, without a partner, like he did on January 6.
Vosu knew Gladen was blind before he arrived. In his testimony, Vosu said he was informed on the 911 call that Gladen couldn't see.
Both Pescaia and his landlord wanted to help Gladen. When Vosu arrived at Pescaia's rental home, his landlord was waving her arms out front, and spoke to Vosu. "She said that there is an individual that's on the porch over there and she told me that she thinks that he needs some shelter, some food and some clothing and could I check on him," Vosu told the jury. In Pescaia's testimony, he said that when he was told Gladen died, he was "devastated." "If I could have, I would have taken those bullets for that young man so that he could have gotten the help that he needed," Pescaia said.
Gladen was holding Vosu's knife when he was shot. This is an assumption many closely following the case have held for a while, but it has remained unconfirmed by the PPB. In his testimony, Vosu said that when he saw Gladen was holding a knife, he recognized it immediately. "He would've pulled it off my vest, but I didn't see it happen," Vosu said. Vosu said the sheath of the knife was attached to his vest with a zip tie. In a morning press release, PPB Chief Danielle Outlaw said the bureau didn't know the knife was Vosu's until the transcripts were made public today.
PPB officers aren't given the knife Vosu was carrying. When asked by a member of the grand jury if the type of knife Vosu wore on his vest was a "standard-issued item to Portland police officers," PPB Special officer Josh Howery said no. "We do not issue that," said Howery, who works with PPB's Special Emergency Reaction Team and was not involved in the Gladen case. "Any knives that are carried by officers would be individually purchased." Howery said officers are allowed to carry a knife anywhere on their body.
Vosu handled the knife before crime scene investigators arrived. After shooting Gladen, who collapsed on his feet, Vosu noticed his knife was stuck in the floor and pulled it out. A juror asked Vosu: "What prompted you to pick up the knife? Aren't you guys typically trained not to touch any of the evidence or anything?" Vosu said he wasn't sure if Gladen was still alive, and feared that he might still reach for the knife. After Vosu sees Gladen is "non-responsive," Vosu sticks the knife back into the floor where he found it, "to preserve the crime scene as it was." This all took place before any other PPB officer or detective showed up at the scene.
Gladen was not taking medication for schizophrenia the day of his death. According to Michele Taylor Stauffenberg, Oregon's chief medical examiner, Gladen had methamphetamine, amphetamine, cannabis, and an anti-seizure drug in his body when he died. Staunffenberg said from the amount of meth in his system, it appears he used meth shortly before he died. The amount, however, was not enough to cause him to overdose.
Vosu felt like he had to shoot Gladen. At one point in the testimony, the prosecutor asks Vosu if he felt like he could have avoided shooting Gladen after seeing him holding his knife. His response: "At that point, I had no option."