A Multnomah County grand jury ruled Wednesday that there wasn't enough evidence to charge Portland Police Officer Curtis Brown with a crime for fatally shooting Michael Ray Townsend outside a Lloyd District hotel in June.
Records show that Townsend called 911 from a Motel 6 lobby on NE Holladay St. on Thursday, June 24, and told operators that has was considering suicide. The call drew an ambulance and members of both the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) and Portland Fire & Rescue (PFR) to the scene. A press release sent from Multnomah County District Attorney's office announcing the grand jury verdict explains that Townsend told PPB officers that he wanted to go to the hospital, but expressed that he didn't want to be patted down before boarding the ambulance.
Shortly after, Townsend allegedly pulled a sharp, screwdriver-like tool out of his pocket and pointed it at Brown and other first responders at the scene, and began walking towards them. Brown then shot Townsend, twice. Townsend was placed in an ambulance—but he died before the vehicle reached a hospital.
According to Townsend's family, Townsend had been diagnosed in 2000 with schizophrenia and bipolar depression. In interviews with OPB after his death, Townsend's sister said he had long struggled to get help to treat his mental illnesses.
Townsend was the third person shot by a PPB officer in 2021. Since his death, three other people have been shot by Portland police. In total, three of six people shot by PPB this year have died.
Townsend's death follows a deadly trend in Portland, where police are currently under a settlement agreement with the US Department of Justice for using disproportionate force against people with mental illnesses.