Portland police Friday released video footage of an officer fatally shooting a man in front of a Motel 6 in Northeast Portland the previous night, showing the man moving toward police holding some kind of object in his hand.
They included a photograph of a screwdriver with a sharpened end calling it “a weapon that has been seized as evidence.”
Police said Officer Curtis Brown shot the man. He has been with the Portland Police Bureau for 18 years.
They said they have confirmed the identity of the man who was killed but have not yet been able to contact his family, so were not immediately releasing his name. Police described him earlier as a white adult male.
The 45-second surveillance video clip filmed the man from the back, sitting in an outdoor stairwell and surrounded by two police officers in uniform and four firefighter medics.
For the first 20 seconds, the man appears to be talking to officers. Around the 25-second mark, the officers and medics move away from the man and the man stands up, holding an object in his fist.
Police back up and one officer takes out a gun, the video shows. The man advances three or four paces toward the officer with the gun, holding the item out in his fist, as the officer continues to back up while pointing the gun at the man several feet away.
At the 33-second mark, the man collapses.
The officer who fired the shot and one other officer continued to point guns at him but backed up, one going behind a police car.
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said police released the video and photograph because of false reports on social media. Among other things, people claimed the man who was killed was Black.
“While the investigation is still in its early stages, and releasing evidence at this point is rare, providing this video is critical to combat misinformation being spread,” he said. “Transparency and community trust are extremely important to us, but so is a full, complete, and thorough investigation. This illustrates how important it is to allow the investigation process to unfold before spreading unverified information. An officer use of deadly force is among the most important investigations that we do, and it’s crucial that we take the time to do it right.”
Sources told The Oregonian/OregonLive that officers initially were called at 7:06 p.m. to the Motel 6 at Northeast Holladay Street and Sixth Avenue for reports of a suicidal man. Officers found the man in the area of lobby but he went back to his room and later came outside and talked to police.
Officers asked the man if he wanted to be taken to the hospital, then told him they needed to pat him down before letting him into an ambulance, according to sources with knowledge of what happened but not authorized to speak publicly about it.
The man became agitated and came at an officer with a screwdriver, prompting an officer to shoot him, they said.
Police have said publicly only that they had gone to the motel for a welfare check.
The man was taken to Legacy Emanuel Hospital by ambulance. Police said he received emergency medical care but died at the hospital.
Lovell released a statement earlier in the day criticizing some people in a group of about 50 that he said interfered with the police investigation of the shooting. He didn’t address the circumstances of the deadly encounter.
People had gathered at the scene after the shooting, shouting and chanting at police. Officers sprayed the crowd with mace, people then threw water bottles at officers and police fired rubber bullets.
Lovell said people assaulted police, sprayed them with an “unknown substance” and defaced a police car.
“Unfortunately, shortly after last night’s shooting, people began sharing false information on social media,” he said in a videotaped statement. “That seemed to fuel a hostile crowd that gathered at the scene of the investigation and it made an already tense situation even more precarious for community members, officers and investigators.”
He said some people “even tried to push into the closed area. If bystanders were able to enter the scene, they would have ultimately destroyed or contaminated evidence, impacting the criminal and administrative investigations.”
Police have not said if the man was facing a mental health crisis, but witnesses said he appeared to be suffering from mental health issues.
Kalli Temple, who lives across the street from the motel, said she watched the scene unfold from her window. She said police approached the man, who looked like he was going through a crisis.
A man staying at the hotel who asked not to be identified by name said he had seen the man who was shot pacing the block earlier in the day. He appeared to be agitated, according to the motel guest, and suffering from mental health issues.
Later on, when police arrived, the hotel guest said he told paramedics to keep their distance from the man, who he thought had a knife. The guest said he stepped inside his room and said he didn’t see what led to the shooting, but stuck his head out just as the officer fired, striking the man on the right side of his ribcage.
Brown, the officer who shot and killed the man, worked for the Rapid Response Team in 2012, and received an award for getting injured while protecting other police officers during a scheduled eviction of Occupy Portland’s downtown encampment.
The shooting was the second by Portland police this year. Officer Zachary DeLong fatally shot Robert Delgado, 46, at Lents Park in April. Police were initially called to the park after someone reported a man was wielding a gun.
Investigators later determined Delgado’s gun was a replica. He died of a single gunshot wound.
Kale Williams and Maxine Bernstein of The Oregonian/OregonLive contributed to this story.
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