November 1, 2010

The family of a Portland man shot and killed by police last January has asked for economic, noneconomic and punitive damages in a wrongful death suit filed today. The suit named as defendants the officer who fired the fatal shot, other officers at the scene and the city of Portland.

The 25-year-old victim’s mother and stepfather released a statement shortly after filing the suit. They said their son had left four children behind, and those children needed to be taken care of. They added that they had become frustrated with the criminal investigation, including grand jury proceedings and the actions of a police review board.

On January 29, police arrived at the site of the incident in response to reports of an armed and suicidal man. According to witnesses, the victim, hands behind his head, exited the apartment building and walked backward toward the officers.

The officers fired.

The first six shots were nonlethal bean bag rounds, typically used to disable a suspect. The last shot, the shot that killed him, was from an officer’s AR-15 rifle.

According to the police, the officers fired the bean bag rounds after they had ordered the victim to put his hands up and he had failed to comply. The officer who killed the victim claimed he believed the victim was reaching for a gun.

The grand jury in the case found no criminal wrongdoing, although they issued an indictment of the bureau for its lack of central command and communication as well as inadequate training.

The family included the police union in their list of frustrations. The union had objected when the police chief and mayor attempted to fire the officer who had killed the victim, citing improper use of deadly force; they also had hoped to suspend other officers involved in the shooting, as well. The union’s objection was that the officers were following their training and acting in accordance with bureau policy.

All but the officer who fired the kill shot are back on duty. He has been on administrative leave since the incident.

The family is not only looking for compensation. They are hoping that the lawsuit will call attention to the facts of the case.

Source: The Oregonian “Family of Aaron Campbell Files Wrongful Death Suit Against Portland Police, City” 11/3/2010


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