First published: December 6

Updated: December 21

Portland police say the officer who shot 27-year-old Isaac L. Seavey on December 6 is Officer Justin Clary, who's been with the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) for 22 years. Clary is assigned to PPB's north precinct.

The December 6 incident isn't the first time Clary has fired at someone while on duty, nor is it the first time he's killed someone. In 2012, a grand jury cleared Clary of wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of Billy Wayne Simms. Police said at the time they thought Simms had fired a gun at another car.

The year prior, in 2011, Clary was one of several officers dispatched to the scene of an apartment in Southeast Portland, where Ralph Clyde Turner had just fired at police, seriously injuring at least one officer. Clary fired an AR-15 at the garage of the duplex where Turner was, to provide "cover fire" while other officers on scene rushed to recover the downed officer Turner shot. Turner eventually surrendered to police and was sentenced to life in prison. 

Years prior, in 2002, Clary shot and killed a man's pet Rottweiler while searching through yards for a fugitive.

Original story:

Seavey was shot Wednesday morning, December 6 in an industrial district near Portland International Airport, as police were responding to a complaint of electricity theft from a nearby business.

It's unclear exactly what happened in the moments prior to the shooting, but PPB confirmed an officer opened fire on an adult man while responding to a "theft of power" call just after 10 a.m. outside a Ventura Foods facility at NE 92nd and Marx. 

According to police, two officers from PPB’s North Precinct responded to an RV parked along the street, when they encountered Seavey and shot him. Seavey died at the scene. Police later reported that a handgun was found near the victim. Court records show Seavey's vehicle was last registered with an address in La Center, Washington. 

The shooting happened outside an industrial area, where several people live in RVs camped out across the street from the food processing site. At the scene the day of the shooting, police blocked off the street, restricting access in and out of businesses nearby. 

It’s unclear whether police were searching for a suspect when the shooting occurred. A spokesman at the scene indicated only one officer opened fire, but that information has yet to be confirmed. 

Clary and another officer involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave, in accordance with bureau policy. 

“We are in the very early stages of this investigation and we intend to release more information as soon as possible,” Mike Benner, a public information officer with PPB, told media.

The case is under investigation by PPB's homicide unit and East County Major Crimes Team. Evidence and facts will be sent to the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office for review. The DA's Office will then determine whether to present the case to a grand jury for possible criminal charges.  

In addition to an internal review, the shooting will go before the city's Police Review Board, which includes a mix of police and community members. It will also get reviewed by the Independent Police Review Division, which is a civilian oversight body.

Information will likely be limited

Police initially declined to say what type of theft they were responding to, or whether the emergency call came from a nearby business, or an individual, citing the need to "protect the integrity of their investigation."

The police bureau has taken heat in recent months for purposely delaying the release of information–specifically, names of officers involved–after police shootings. 

Police cited a policy that was unilaterally put in place late last year by former Police Chief Chuck Lovell, to no longer release names within 24 hours, instead waiting weeks.

The former chief cited concerns for officer privacy, safety, and “doxxing” of officers during active investigations. Lovell said the policy, which was criticized by police watchdog groups, “strikes the right balance between transparency and the security concerns of our PPB members.”

Police now say it’s their practice to wait 15 days, if not longer, before releasing names of officers involved in deadly force.

A handgun recovered at the scene of a shooting was reportedly found
near a man who was killed by police. Portland police bureau


While it’s become common practice for police to limit the amount of information about shootings involving officers, that typically isn’t the case with investigations involving civilians. 

For example, just one day prior to the shooting, police released information about a deadly mauling of a 6-year-old boy by two dogs, which included information about the age of the boy, the relationship of the boy to the owner of the dogs, the type of dogs involved, as well as the extent of injuries to the owner of the dog, and which outside agencies were investigating. 

The week prior, police released a lengthy summary of an officer who stopped a robbery in progress, including a full summary of events and the name and physical description of the suspect in custody, in an attempt to locate additional robbery victims. 

Portland Police Chief Bob Day answers media questions at the scene of an 
officer-involved shooting Wednesday, December 6.  courtney vaughn

Portland Police Chief Bob Day told media on scene Wednesday afternoon that the bureau will prioritize speedy, transparent communication about the case. He said PPB is working to reduce deadly shootings by its officers, saying the bureau is "doing everything in our power and our ability to try to minimize these tragedies as they occur.”

“With that said, I’m 100 percent committed to the process that we have in place," Day said. "I know we’ll work closely with our partners, the district attorney’s office, other investigators, to be as accountable and transparent as possible.”

Deadly shootings will soon get independent investigations

Wednesday’s deadly shooting is the third officer-involved shooting by Portland police this year. The incident comes as the city is preparing to overhaul its police oversight system after voters in 2020 approved the creation of a new Community Board for Police Accountability (CBPA) to investigate misconduct complaints and use of force incidents involving police. Deadly shootings involving police currently get reviewed by an independent civilian oversight group, but that group only has authority to issue recommendations, which can ultimately be overturned or ignored.

While the community-led process won’t change criminal investigations into police shootings, the new civilian-led oversight board removes police from investigations into policy compliance and conduct of police. It will be the first oversight board in the city with the authority to impose discipline on officers. The new system is expected to be implemented sometime in 2025, pending approval by the US Department of Justice.

It’s unclear whether the new board will be subject to the same communication restrictions about its investigations that police currently observe.