Bodycam video released in fatal shooting of Oregon man
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Body camera video from two campus police officers in Oregon shows they ordered a legally armed black man to drop a gun before opening fire, killing him.
Portland State University released the video Friday after Officers James Dewey and Shawn McKenzie were cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury in the June 29 death of Jason Erik Washington, a 45-year-old Navy veteran and U.S. Postal Service employee who had a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
The two body camera videos and 70 freeze frame photos were released through public records requests.
A separate 397-page police report completed by the Portland Police Bureau, also released Friday, revealed the gun Washington had was not his, but belonged to his friend who had asked Washington to take it so he didn’t make a “poor decision” in a drunken confrontation.
Washington, who had been out drinking with friends, had a blood-alcohol level of more than three times the legal driving limit when he died, according to records from the medical examiner’s office.
The footage from Dewey’s camera shows the campus police officer rolling up to a fight on a street in downtown Portland outside a bar on the fringes of the university’s campus. Dewey exits his patrol vehicle and a man at the scene says several times, “He pulled a gun on us! He pulled a gun!” as he points to Washington, who appears to be trying to keep his friend from a fight.
At that point, Washington’s visibly intoxicated friend breaks away and begins punching another man until he is kicked by a third person in the head and knocked out.
As Washington tries to pull the man away from his unconscious friend, Dewey grabs Washington’s arm from behind and tells him to back away from the fight. A black object that appears to be a gun is visible protruding from Washington’s right hip pocket at that moment in Dewey’s body camera video.
Washington stumbles backward and falls to the ground as someone says, “He’s got a gun!”
Washington then gets up, takes several steps away from Dewey and then turns to face the two officers as they shout at him to drop the gun.
Then, shots ring out and Washington falls to the sidewalk dead.
A witness told several media outlets immediately after the shooting that she saw the gun fall out of Washington’s pocket when he fell, and he was shot after he picked it up.
It’s unclear from the angle of both body camera videos, however, whether Washington is holding the gun when he is shot.
The lengthy police report says Washington had been drinking with two longtime friends that evening and got into a confrontation in the early morning hours with another group at the Cheerful Tortoise, a popular bar near campus.
The trio left but the other group followed them, according to witness statements, and the confrontation continued.
The investigative report quotes multiple witnesses saying Washington was trying to keep his very intoxicated friend out of a fight and was almost dragging him along the sidewalk as the friend tried to confront the others. In a police interview, the friend told police he gave his gun to Washington because he thought he might get in a fight and “he did not want to make a poor decision during the fight.”
The weapon, identified as a black Walther PPQ 9mm gun, was the same type as the one recovered from the scene lying near Washington’s body, according to the report.
Another witness tells police Washington had taken a gun out of its holster, pointed it in the air, and told the group trying to fight his friend that he was armed.
A police officer wrote in his report that he recovered Washington’s permit to carry a concealed handgun from a wallet taken from his body.
Washington’s widow, Michelle Washington, showed up after the shooting because her husband was not responding to messages and was late coming home from his night out with friends.
She had no idea he’d been shot and stumbled on the scene after tracking Washington’s cellphone, the police report said. She helped identify him by describing his tattoos.
Michelle Washington said Thursday in a statement she plans to file a civil lawsuit in the case.
The Portland State University Student Union is planning a rally to press the university to disarm campus police later this month in the wake of the shooting.
The decision to arm campus police officers was contentious when it was first passed in 2014.
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