PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Police Commissioner Dan Saltsman says he wants grand jury testimony in a police shooting death to be made public.
He urged Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk to take the unusual step so the public can hear the complete facts about the shooting death of a Portland man, Aaron Campbell.
Saturday, Saltzman went to the funeral for Cambell, a service for both the man shot by police and his older brother who died earlier the same day of heart disease.
I realize there is nothing we can do to ease the pain that his death is causing his family, his friends and our community, Saltzman wrote to Schrunk in a letter Wednesday.
That being said, I believe that the community deserves a public and thorough airing of the facts surrounding his death, Saltzman wrote.
Last Friday night, Campbell was shot once in the back by Officer Ronald Frashour, who fired a rifle at him in the parking lot of an apartment building.
Police had been called to the apartments to check on the welfare of Campbell, his girlfriend and three children after being told Campbell was suicidal and armed.
The girlfriend was outside the apartment when police arrived, and the three children exited safely. Police later determined the 25-year-old Campbell was unarmed.
A Multnomah County grand jury began hearing testimony Thursday on the shooting, and the entire proceeding was recorded after Schrunk obtained a court order at Saltzman's request.
Schrunk said he will ask the court to make the transcripts or recording public once the grand jury makes a ruling. But he emphasized that the decision will rest with a judge.
These are unusual circumstances and unusual tragic events, Schrunk told The Oregonian newspaper in an interview.
In a letter to Saltzman, Schrunk wrote that he fully supported public disclosure of transcripts in all grand jury investigations into police use of deadly force.
The move marks a significant departure from past practice and a partial win for former state Sen. Avel Gordly, who tried unsuccessfully for 12 years to push through a bill to open the secret grand jury proceedings and require the state to record grand jury testimony in cases involving deaths that occur at the hands of police.
The proposed law, which Gordly co-sponsored in 2007 with former Attorney General Hardy Myers, sharply divided Oregon prosecutors.
Gordly praised the development. It's a positive move by Commissioner Saltzman, and it's good for the sake of transparency that the DA has agreed to do that, she said. We need a full, public accounting of what happened in this tragic death.
Portland police Sgt. Scott Westerman, president of the Portland Police Association union, said he's generally opposed to the recording of secret grand jury proceedings.
He said their release could have a chilling effect on witness testimony and the fact-finding process.