A Multnomah County grand jury has declined to indict a Gresham cop on criminal charges for killing Portlander Israel Berry in May 2020.
Gresham officer James Doyle fatally shot Berry, 49, on May 31 in Southeast Portland. Doyle and other Gresham officers were assisting Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers that Sunday evening due to PPB's preoccupation with racial justice protests occurring at the same time. Around 9:30 pm, Doyle and several Portland officers responded to a 911 call of a disturbance near SE Powell and 122 Ave.
At the scene, they allegedly found Berry driving in a car up and down the street, honking his car horn. According to witnesses, police used their vehicles to block the street, corralling Berry. In a Friday press release, the Multnomah County District Attorney's office cited body-worn camera video footage showing that Doyle fired his gun at Berry because Berry was driving his car towards Doyle. While PPB officers do not wear body cameras, Gresham police do.
Berry was pronounced dead at the scene. Doyle has been on paid administrative leave since the shooting.
Multnomah County prosecutors are typically the sole investigators in local officer shooting cases. In this case, however, DA Mike Schmidt hired outside criminal defense attorney Samuel Kauffman to co-lead the investigation with two county prosecutors. Schmidt, who was elected in May 2020, made the decision in hopes of strengthening the public's trust in the criminal justice system, since country prosecutors' working relationships with local cops can been seen as a conflict of interest when prosecutors are tasked to investigate them.
"These are the most critical cases for our community, and require an outside set of eyes to challenge potential bias," Schmidt told the Mercury in May 2021, when he announced Kauffman's hire. At the time, Schmidt said he was hopeful that, regardless of the grand jury's outcome, the process would increase the public's trust.
Schmidt reiterated this intention in the Friday press statement.
"Justice requires both objectivity and transparency of process," he said, "and it is my hope that his willingness to work alongside my office as an objective outside legal expert will provide the community with additional assurance that this matter was thoroughly and fairly handled.”
Schmidt added: “I do wish to acknowledge the pain and grief of Mr. Berry’s family and loved ones. I am sorry for your loss.”