The family of Robert Delgado, the 46-year-old man killed by a Portland police officer last week, are calling for a special investigation into Delgado's death.
"We are seeking justice," said Skyler Delgado, one of Robert's four children, speaking at an afternoon press conference outside the downtown Portland office of civil rights attorney J. Ashlee Albies. Albies is currently representing Delgado's family in their pursuit for justice.
According to Albies, the family has asked Governor Kate Brown and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Delgado's killing by Portland police officer Zachary DeLong. Albies explained that this is the legal tool Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison used to address the investigation of the death of Minneapolis' George Floyd by ex-cop Derek Chauvin.
"...And that resulted in the criminal conviction of Derek Chauvin earlier this week," Albies said. "We think that sets a precedent."
Albies said the family also wants Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt to consider appointing a special investigator to this case.
Delgado was fatally shot the morning of April 16 in Lents Park. Officers with the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) were called to the scene after a community member reported that there was a man in the park playing with a handgun. When officers arrived, Delgado was not observed holding a gun, but was apparently "non-compliant" with officers' demands. Officer DeLong fatally shot Delgado four minutes after he arrived at the park. It's not clear if DeLong saw a gun in Delgado's hand before opening fire. PPB allegedly found a fake handgun on Delgado after approaching his body. DeLong has been placed on paid administrative leave for the duration of the police investigation into his shooting.
Neighbors say Delgado was unhoused at the time, and often slept in and around Lents Park. Friends of Delgado say they believe he had a mental illness. At the press conference, Albies noted that PPB have been beholden to a settlement agreement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) since 2014, after the DOJ investigation found that Portland police had a "pattern and practice" of using a disproportionate amount of force against people in Portland who appeared to have a mental illness.
"People with mental health issues are not inherently dangerous, and they need to be treated with respect and care," said Albies, who represents the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform in that settlement agreement.
River Delgado, another one of Robert's four children, described his father as a "human being" who "had people who loved him." Robert's daughter Kennedy Delgado said Robert was her "best friend," and urged the community to help her family hold police accountable to prevent something like this from happening to others' families.
"This incident isn't something that you think you will have to experience firsthand," said Kennedy Delgado. "I just want there to be change made before another family has to experience this. I want everyone who disregards these stories in the news to ask, 'What is it going to take to see change? Is it going to take something like this happening to your dad or your sister or your sibling?'"
Delgado's family invited the public to join them at a candlelight vigil tonight for Robert at Lents Park at 5:30 pm.