PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Two campus security officers in Oregon fired 17 times at a legally armed black man who was trying to break up a fight and struck him nine times, killing him, according to a report released Wednesday.
Oregon State Medical Examiner Dr. Rebecca Millius ruled the death of Jason Washington, 45, a homicide, the report shows.
Washington was struck in the chest, back, abdomen and legs and had graze wounds from a bullet that glanced off his head, she said.
A grand jury ruled on Sept. 13 that Portland State University Officers James Dewey and Shawn McKenzie should not face criminal charges in the June 29 shooting.
Washington, a Navy veteran and U.S. Postal Service employee, had been out drinking with friends when his group got into a confrontation with another group outside a bar called the Cheerful Tortoise just off campus in downtown Portland.
A lengthy report released last week by the Portland Police Bureau, as well as footage pulled from the officers’ body-worn cameras, show Washington had a gun in his right pocket when he tried to come to a friend’s assistance during a fight. Officers later found a legal permit to carry a concealed weapon in the dead man’s wallet.
The footage from Dewey’s camera shows the campus police officer rolling up to a fight on a street on the fringes of the university campus.
Dewey exits his patrol vehicle and a man at the scene says several times, “He pulled a gun on us! He pulled a gun!” as he points to Washington, who appears to be trying to keep his friend from a fight.
At that point, Washington’s visibly intoxicated friend breaks away and begins punching another man until he is kicked by a third person in the head and knocked out.
As Washington tries to pull the man away from his unconscious friend, Dewey grabs Washington’s arm from behind and tells him to back away from the fight. A black object that appears to be a gun is visible protruding from Washington’s right hip pocket at that moment in Dewey’s body camera video.
Washington stumbles backward and falls to the ground as someone says, “He’s got a gun!”
Washington gets up, takes several steps away from Dewey and turns to face the two officers as they shout at him to drop the gun.
The medical examiner’s report quotes one of the officers as yelling, “Do not pick up the gun!” just before the officers fired 17 shots “in very quick succession.”
A witness told several media outlets immediately after the shooting that she saw the gun fall out of Washington’s pocket when he fell, and he was shot after he picked it up.
It’s unclear from the angle of both body camera videos, however, whether Washington is holding the gun when he is shot.
Toxicology reports show Washington had a blood-alcohol content of more than three times the legal driving limit.
His wife, Michelle Washington, has said she will file a lawsuit in her husband’s death.
Portland State University’s president has hired two independent firms, one to examine the school’s policy of arming campus police and another to conduct its own investigation into the shooting. Students are planning a rally later this month to press the school to disarm its campus police.
PSU decided to arm its campus security officers in 2014 despite concerns raised by students.
Follow Gillian Flaccus on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gflaccus
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