Police: Suspect shot by officer had been showing off handgun

Police: Suspect shot by officer had been showing off handgun »Play Video
Police released this photo of the suspect who was shot by police. They said officers saw him showing off a handgun at a SE Portland apartment. (Photo courtesy Portland Police)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland police say they were conducting surveillance as part of a federal gun case when they saw a boy flashing a handgun who later ended up being shot by an officer.

The 17-year-old boy was shot in the thigh by an officer who just joined the force last year and was still on probation, Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said.

He was treated at a hospital, released and is expected to appear in court on Wednesday afternoon.

Simpson said the chain of events leading up to the shooting started on Tuesday afternoon when members of the Portland Police Gun Task Force obtained a warrant to search an apartment associated with the case of Sid Edward Willis, Jr., a known Crip gang member who currently faces trial for being a “felon in possession of a firearm as an armed career criminal.”

Officers were watching the apartment on SE 148th Avenue when they saw the 17-year-old boy come out armed with a handgun, Simpson said. Officers saw him “showing it off” to several other people and snapped a picture.

Investigators said the boy then got in a blue Honda two-door car with three other people and drove off.

Gun Task Force officers contacted patrol officers in the area to stop the car. Portland and Gresham officers caught up with the suspects and stopped the car at SE 153rd and Division.

They handled it as a “high-risk” stop, Simpson said.

The driver and front seat passenger got out and followed commands, but Simpson said the boy with the handgun fled into the neighborhood.

At some point during the chase, Simpson said Officer Dennis Wilcox fired a round from a beanbag shotgun at the boy.

Simpson said Officer Gregory Moore also fired one bullet from his gun, which hit the boy in the thigh.

Wilcox is a 21-year veteran of the force. Moore has been an officer in Portland since March 2011 and was still in a probationary period, Simpson said.

After being hit, the suspect continued to run. Officers with a police dog eventually found him in a yard at 1933 SE 149th Avenue, Simpson said.

Officers also found two loaded handguns in the yard of a house on 153rd Avenue, Simpson said. They believe the guns belonged to the suspect.

Those guns were found in Connie Hubbbard's yard.

"Right here behind a rubber garbage can in the back of the garage," she said.

"There are kids out in those neighborhoods and now we want to find these guns," Simpson said. "The worst thing that can happen is that one of those guns ends up in the hands of a 12-year-old or a 10-year-old little kid who doesn't know if it's real. Then we have a real tragedy on our hands."

Investigators said they think the suspect was shot by Moore, not from one of his own guns.

The fourth person in the car was also taken into custody, but not before being bitten on the wrist by a police dog, Simpson said.

Investigators have not said exactly what actions led up to Moore firing his weapon or Wilcox firing the beanbag gun, although Simpson said the bureau thinks the officers acted appropriately.

The district attorney will review the case, which is standard procedure in officer shootings. Prosecutors will convene a grand jury to determine if the use of deadly force was justified.

As for the gun task force, members say they've confiscated 25 handguns and 23 rifles or shotguns this year alone. That includes six guns in the past week alone.

Wilcox, the officer who fired the beanbag round, has been involved in a shooting before. In March of this year he shot a robbery suspect. A grand jury ruled that shooting was justified.

Back in 1992, Wilcox was accidentally shot while another officer frisked a woman during an arrest. The woman had a gun near her crotch and it fired while the officer was reaching for it. The bullet hit Wilcox in the calf.

Simpson said investigators are still looking for any witnesses in the neighborhood who have not already spoken to police. You can call detectives at (503) 823-0400.