Portland to pay $2M to settle fatal police shooting of teen
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The city of Portland is poised to pay $2 million to the family of a teen suspected in an armed robbery and attempted carjacking who was shot and killed by police four years ago.
Deputy City Attorney Daniel Simon, in a signed statement to a federal judge this month, acknowledged the parties in the civil rights lawsuit had reached a settlement, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
Lawyers for Quanice Hayes’ family argued that Hayes, 17, was not a threat when killed on Feb. 9, 2017 while on his knees unarmed and moving forward in an effort to lie prone on the ground in response to officer commands.
The lawsuit contends police acted unreasonably with excessive force when Officer Andrew Hearst shot Hayes three times with an AR-15 rifle after police confronted Hayes outside a Portland home.
“This case was always about getting answers,” said attorneys J. Ashlee Albies and Jesse Merrithew, who represented Hayes’ family, in a statement.
“We know that Quanice Hayes was shot while he was surrendering to the police. We also know that the City of Portland will never admit their fault, and we know that Andrew Hearst will never be punished for his conduct ... We remain hopeful that the protests in the streets will force this city to enact a meaningful system of accountability.”
Officers had discovered Hayes and ordered him to keep his hands up and crawl toward officers on the driveway. When Hayes appeared to reach toward his waistband, Hearst said he fired, killing Hayes.
The plaintiff’s expert, forensic biomechanical engineer Jesse L. Wobrock would have testified that Hayes was on his knees, his head and neck bent forward, and his torso leaning slightly forward to comply with officers’ orders to “go down to his face,” when Hearst fired, according to case documents.
Hayes likely moved his hand to the ground to help him lie prone, Wobrock’s written opinion said.
The city’s expert, Matthew Noedel, in written documents claimed Wobrock’s theory that Hayes was complying with police orders to move prone on the ground went beyond what data could show.
Although Hearst never saw that Hayes had a gun, he testified before a county grand jury that he was convinced that Hayes had one because a witness described a gun used in the robbery and because Hearst had heard that the suspect had run, holding his waistband, from another officer earlier.
A replica air pistol was found in a flower bed about two feet (0.6 meters) from Hayes’ body, a lead detective testified.
The teen’s death increased tensions between police and members of the African American community after the grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing by officers.
The $2.095 million negotiated settlement must be approved by City Council.