SALEM, Ore. -- Dozens of police officers from across the state gathered in Salem to express outrage that a man convicted of killing an officer was granted parole.
A House judiciary committee listened to arguments from both sides on Tuesday. The committee can't overturn the parole board's decision but they can try to find out what happened.
Last month, Sidney Dean Porter was granted parole after serving 20 years of a life sentence for killing a police officer.
In 1992, John Day police officer Frank Ward responded to Porter's house, where Porter was beating his wife. Porter then murdered Officer Ward with his bare hands and a piece of fire wood.
In February, the parole board determined that Porter was fit to be released. The parole board did not notify the John Day Police Department of its decision.
“Police take care of us. Aren't we going to take care of them?” said Ben Ward, the victim's brother.
Ward’s brother told the judiciary committee at Tuesday’s hearing: “This means you and the board make decisions to free criminals after they kill a police officer who protects you and your community? What good, then, is my brother as a police officer?”
The Oregon Peace Officers Association wrote a letter to Governor Kitzhaber asking for support in opposing the parole board's decision.
But the Governor’s office released a statement saying the decision was out of his hands: “Ultimately, it's an independent board that makes its own decisions.”
“Legally, we feel like we followed the process for how this hearing was conducted, and the board felt like he met the burden to be released,” said Jay Scroggin, Executive Director of the Oregon Board of Parole.
KGW reporter Katherine Cook contributed to this report.