Nick Fish: 'This young man should not have died'

Nick Fish: 'This young man should not have died' »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. – With the release of 600 pages of police documents into the Jan. 29 police-shooting death of a Portlander who had just watched his own brother die, new information has been revealed and new lines are being drawn.

Commissioner Nick Fish, one of five city commissioners working with Portland mayor Sam Adams, sent this statement to KATU: 

"I wish to express my deep regret over the death of Aaron Campbell. This young man should not have died. As the parent of two children, I cannot imagine the anguish and sense of loss experienced by his family.
 
"I fully support the announced plans of Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Chief Rosie Sizer to conduct a thorough, timely and completely transparent investigation of this tragedy. I endorse making their findings and recommendations available to the public immediately.
 
"I also support the ongoing efforts to strengthen civilian oversight of the Police Bureau, and to make it more independent..."
 
New evidence into what happened
On the night of Jan. 29 police responded to the Sandy Terrace Apartments in the 12800 block of Northeast after a 9-1-1 caller – now identified as Campbell's girlfriend's aunt – said he was suicidal and armed with a gun. Listen to the call

Ultimately, Campbell emerged from the apartments unarmed.

The released documents detailed what happened after Campbell came out of the house. According to the report, officers said Campbell unexpectedly released three children and then unexpectedly emerged from the apartment. Officer Ryan Lewton said he was “all of a sudden there” with his hands on top of his head. Lewton then said, “Do exactly what I say or you will be shot.”

Lewton said Campbell replied, “Go ahead and shoot me,” and wouldn’t follow orders. Lewton said he “…intentionally fired one less lethal round” that hit Campbell in the “rear end” which “caused the male to bring his hands down. …”

At the same time the officer who fired the fatal shot, Ron Frashour, watched Campbell and said “he just dove his hand straight down the middle of his back, and I instantly thought, he is pulling a gun out … he started running … the silver Volvo gives him hard cover … I cannot let him get to hard cover ‘cause he’s gonna shoot at us.”

Campbell emerged from the home and about 30 seconds later received the fatal shot, according to KATU.com's analysis of police radio communication. Listen to the sequence

The political landscape
On Tuesday, another city Commissioner – Randy Leonard – came out highly critical of Sizer. He said the city “can either repeat history by perpetuating an unhealthy deference to the Police Chief, or they can use this moment to take meaningful action and create a real turning point in the history and accountability of the Police Bureau.”

Mayor Sam Adams meanwhile said he "wholeheartedly" supports Sizer's efforts for accountability.

Rev. Jesse Jackson met with police Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Sam Adams Tuesday after he said Adams asked for a meeting. It was reportedly a blunt conversation on race relations, with Jackson saying he believes the make-up of Portland's police department is not reflective of the city.

Around 7 1/2 percent of Portland's population is black or black combined with other races, according to a 2008 U.S. Census survey. There were 1,300 sworn and un-sworn officers working for Portland in 2008.

Police Human Resource Manager Sean Murray reports that as of Sept. 1, 2009, there are 969 sworn officers working for Portland Police. Thirty-three of those, or 3.41 percent, were black. In 2009 the department hired one new black officer. Meanwhile, it hired 53 new whites.

Jackson also said he is especially angry the officer who shot Campbell will go back to work Wednesday.

“I think the most inhumane part, beside his having a happy trigger finger, is to watch [Campbell] lie there (for) 30 minutes and suffer and die and not touch him,” Jackson said. “That is just fundamentally cruel and wrong. All of us deserve better than that.” (Read Sizer saying what changes will be made as a result.)

But not everyone said they think Jackson should be weighing in on this issue.

“Having a man who hung out with Martin Luther King [Jr.] is a big deal," said one Portland resident, Fred Stewart. "But do I want Jesse Jackson coming here telling Portland we’re going to resolve these problems? No. This man should not be making any judgments about what we do here in Portland.”

Jackson spoke at Maranatha Church Tuesday evening at the invitation of the Albina Ministerial Alliance's "Coalition for Justice and Police Reform."

Meanwhile, Portland’s Police Chief Rose Sizer stood by her officers Tuesday morning while releasing more than 600 pages of documents detailing how officers encountered 25-year-old Aaron Campbell before he was shot and killed by police a little more than two weeks ago.

“I cannot promise that every police action will be perfect,” Sizer said Tuesday. “And I cannot promise that our jobs can be done without risk, risk to police officers, risk to suspects, and risk to the community.”

Sizer also said she would review policies in the wake of a scathing grand jury report that criticized police training and communication.

"Now is not the time to point fingers or assign blame," Fish wrote in his concluding statement. "Instead, we should come together for reconciliation and understanding."

"We cannot reverse this tragedy," Fish wrote. "But we can honor Mr. Campbell’s life by re-committing to work across racial and ethnic lines for real, lasting change."

Follow our continuing coverage of this case
Read the police documents Hear the 27 seconds from the time Campbell left the apartment to when he was shot


Commissioner Nick Fish: