Andre Gladen (second from left) surrounded by his family.
Andre Gladen (second from left) surrounded by his family. Andre Gladen Jr.

A Multnomah County grand jury has ruled that a Portland cop who fatally shot Andre Gladen, a legally blind man with schizophrenia, should not face criminal charges.

Gladen, 36, was shot by Officer Consider Vosu on January 6 after Desmond Pescaia, a Southeast Portland resident, called the police to ask officers to help remove Gladen from his front steps. Gladen, who was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, appeared at Pescaia's front door after leaving the hospital, and was in an unstable mental state. After offering Gladen money for bus fare or food, Pescaia asked Gladen to leave. Instead, the 36-year-old man fell asleep on his porch. That's when Pescaia requested PPB's help.

Vosu showed up alone. When Gladen woke to see a cop walking towards him, he yelled and knocked on Pescaia's door to let him inside. Pescaia did, and both Vosu and Gladen scuffled in his entryway. Vosu attempted to handcuff Gladen, then pepper sprayed him, and then—after Vosu said Gladen pulled out a knife—the officer shot him.

The tactical knife retrieved from the scene is similar to one police officers regularly carry. Gladen's family disputed that the knife belonged to Gladen, and have argued that it would be impossible for the legally blind man to pull it off of Vosu's belt. However, the grand jury ruling contends that Vosu was right to use deadly force against Gladen.

Gladen's twin brother Fonte said he's not at all surprised by the ruling.

"This is the norm. The world knows that," he told the Mercury this morning. "You go in there and you expect the same legal system to charge those that are arms of the legal system? We know that's not how it works."

Six of Gladen's family members (not including Fonte) are meeting with Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw this morning, after requesting a meeting last week. They hope to share their concerns about Gladen's death, and seek answers.

Fonte says he appreciates the city accepting the meeting, but doesn't believe much will come from it.

"It's a political move [for the city] to answer the family. It's not going to change policing policies," he said. "But to be able to look those who are partly responsible in the face, and say, 'Something needs to change, something needs to be different,' that's important."

Gladen's death marked the third fatal shooting of someone with a mental illness by Portland police officers in the past year. Multnomah County grand juries cleared all officers in those deaths from any criminal charges. Gladen was also the third Black man to be shot by local law enforcement in the past year.

Despite the grand jury's verdict, the Gladen family still intends to take legal action against Vosu and the city.

"We aren't letting this fade away," Fonte said. "They need to be accountable for something."