Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Chief Rosie Sizer and Commissioner Dan Saltzman addressed the unusually specific grand jury statement released on Thursday that blamed the Police Bureau's use-of-force procedures for the needless death of Aaron Campbell.

A family is hurting, Sizer said in reference to Marva Davis, the mother of Aaron Campbell, who was shot by a Police Officer Ron Frashour on Jan. 29. Campbell died. The same day, Davis' younger son, Douglass, died of heart and kidney failure. Police were conducting a welfare check at the Sandy Terrace Apartments after a woman called 9-1-1 reporting Aaron Campbell as suicidal.

Late Friday, Saltzman ordered a top-down review of the tactics and procedures Portland's police officers are taught to employ when dealing with high-risk and mentally ill individuals.

Video: Saltzman promises action

The police bureau needs to make the best decisions it can to deal with a high-risk individual in mental crisis, Saltzman said.

The review was announced after Sizer acknowledged that Campbell's death had exposed the frustration and contempt some Portlanders have felt toward their police in the wake of several high profile cases involving questionable police force tactics.

Sizer, under scrutiny from community leaders on one side and her own force on the other, told reporters that Campbell's death had emotionally charged much of the city.

The family is hurting, the community is hurting, the police force is hurting; and frankly, I am hurting, too, she said.

Chief's failures date back to Chasse, union says

Police blame Sizer for the public's misconceptions over use-of-force tactics. Raw video: Police on Grand Jury statement

On Feb. 11, a statement from a grand jury investigating Campbell's death exonerated Officer Ron Frashour of criminal wrongdoing. Miscommunication by tactical forces escalated the welfare check on Campbell, jurors determined. A suicidal man grieving his brother's death was himself needlessly killed as a result of Portland Police Bureau procedural missteps.

The president of Portland's police officers union said a failure of leadership was to blame in the public's misconceptions of how and why officers use force. Police: Misconceptions stem from Chasse

Sgt. Scott Westerman's criticism came around the same time that a police watchdog group, Portland Cop Watch, publicly released details of a 2006 lawsuit involving Officer Frashour's excessive use of force. The lawsuit was settled by the city for $55,000 in 2009 after Sizer herself testified against Frashour. Sizer testified to Frashour's abuse

Just two months ago, the police union held a vote of no confidence in both the chief and commissioner, after another officer accused at least twice of beating or subduing unarmed suspects with excessive force. Ministers joined Portlanders picketing the Justice Center over the beanbag shooting of a 12-year-old by Officer Christopher Humphreys, prompting Saltzman to pull his badge.

But a massive counter-protest by police, and faced with a no-confidence vote, Sizer and Saltzman reinstated Humphreys to administrative duties.

Jurors: Lack of communication led to Campbell's death

The grand jury noted its sole task was to determine whether Officer Frashour should be criminally charged for shooting the unarmed Campbell. He was innocent of knowingly committing a crime, jurors found, but the bureau itself bore responsibility for the suicide suspect's needless death due to officer training, tactical procedures, and communication blunders.

Official Records (PDF):Grand Jury Statement | Saltzman responds to grand jury | Chief's response |

DA wants grand jury sunshine | Police on shooting

Something went terribly, terribly wrong at Sandy Terrace, the grand jury told District Attorney Michael Schrunk, and Aaron Campbell should not have died. He was not accused of a crime. The police were called to do a welfare check because Mr. Campbell was distraught over his brother's death.

The letter indicted the bureau's approach to defusing a volatile situation and suggested that Frashour was left alone to make life-or-death decisions without information that may have saved Campbell's life.

No one person is responsible for this tragedy and the errors of many people in the PPB need to be identified and addressed, the grand jury letter concluded. Policies such as the lone-gunman approach need to be revised along with, possibly, some training and communication policy changes.

Campbell's mother, Marva Davis was protesting with Portland community leaders and church ministers at the very time the grand jury letter was released. The Albina Ministerial Alliance led a downtown picket Thursday morning from the City of Portland Justice Center to the Multnomah County Courthouse. Ministers:Reform Police Bureau now

Emotional week for Portland

On Wednesday, the Multnomah County grand jury found no evidence to support criminal prosecution of Officer Frashour's decision to shoot Campbell with an AR-15 rifle. Campbell died from the gunshot.

Police were called to the scene to perform a welfare check after the man's girlfriend alerted police that he was threatening suicide. Campbell was grieving the death of his younger brother, 23-year-old Douglass Campbell, who earlier that same day had died from heart and kidney failure.

On Feb. 10, as Marva Davis buried her two sons, she said Frashour should face charges for killing Aaron Campbell.

I'm angry, the grieving mother said. I trusted them that they would look at everything that happened. Instead, she said, they literally started shooting him in the back.

A memorial was held Feb. 6 for the Campbells. Ministers and supporters from across metro Portland attended to support Davis.
Mother loses 2 sons in 1 day

DA: Events troublesome

A statement from District Attorney Schrunk, issued after the grand jury's findings, confirmed the county would not prosecute Frashour. But the situation and events were troublesome, Schrunk told The Oregonian newspaper on Feb. 10.

Schrunk told KGW Wednesday that because of the exceptional jury findings he would petition the court to release the complete, recorded transcript of the grand jury's proceedings. Schrunk wrote a letter to Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman notifying him of the rare request to declassify an entire grand jury investigation.
Letter from DAto Police Commissioner (PDF)

Saltzman wants findings publicized; Police Union says bad idea

Saltzman attended the funeral, too. He said while there was nothing he could do to ease the pain of the Campbell family, he wanted Portlanders to know the process behind the grand jury's investigation. More:Picket lines

Was it suicide by cop? Or on the other extreme, you have an unarmed black man shot in the back, Saltzman said. And when you have two extremes like that it demands that all the facts be made available to the public.

The investigation included evidence and testimony from more than 30 witnesses who saw or heard the commotion at the Sandy Terrace Apartments. It also included the police reports Officer Frashour filed explaining his decision to shoot Campbell. Chief Sizer said Frashour shot Campbell as he reached into his back pocket while in the parking lot of the complex. Campbell was unarmed. Police said a gun was found in the home.
Police statement on shooting

Secret deliberations

Under Oregon law, grand jury investigations are withheld from public scrutiny. Avel Gordly, a community leader and former state lawmaker representing NE Portland, called for a full, public accounting of the events that led Officer Frashour to shoot Campbell.

Gordly sponsored legislation that would have given the public access to secret grand jury proceedings. She was unsuccessful in opening the process.

The Portland Police union opposes releasing grand jury findings to the public, according to an interview with the union's president by the Associated Press.

KGW Reporters Amanda Burden and Katherine Cook contributed to this report.

Read or Share this story: