PORTLAND, Ore. - Justice Department prosecutors said there is not enough evidence to pursue federal civil rights charges against Portland Police officers involved in the shooting death of an unarmed man.
Aaron Campbell was killed by police outside the Sandy Terrace Apartments in Northeast Portland in January 2010.
Last November the officer who fired the fatal shot, Officer Ron Frashour, was kicked off the force for violating police bureau policy during the incident. Three other officers, Officer Ryan Lewton, Sgt. Liani Reyna and Sgt. John Birkinbine, each received 80-hour unpaid suspensions.
Frashour shot Campbell in the back after responding to a call that Campbell was suicidal. Frashour said he believed Campbell was reaching for a weapon.
After the shooting, Justice Department prosecutors investigated if any officers broke federal civil rights laws during the incident.
“Under the applicable federal criminal civil rights laws, prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a law enforcement officer willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right, meaning with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids,” a Justice Department spokeswoman wrote in a statement.
In this case, a team of federal prosecutors decided there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Frashour or any other officers acted “with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids.”
Prosecutors said that accidents, fear, negligence or bad judgment are not reasons enough to pursue federal charges.
Representatives from the Justice Department, FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office met with Campbell’s family to tell them about the decision.
“The family accepts this decision,” Campbell’s family members said in a statement through their attorneys. “To have them prosecuted would have served little purpose in the healing process for the family.”
Family members have filed a lawsuit against the officers and police bureau.
“I want to thank the DOJ for their investigation into this officer-involved shooting. We can’t undo the death of Aaron Campbell, but I believe we have taken significant steps to learn from it,” police Chief Michael Reese said in a statement. “In this case, I believe each Bureau member involved was attempting to do their best to resolve a complex situation. However, there were significant issues that were brought forth in the Bureau’s internal reviews and those involved were held accountable.”
Since the Campbell shooting, the police bureau added additional training, including extra training for officers who carry assault rifles like the one Frashour used.
A Multnomah County grand jury previously decided there was no evidence to pursue local charges against Frashour.