Two other shootings on same day in Oregon;
Details Emerge on January Incident, Force Review Board

On July 19 and 20, three people died after confrontations with police in Oregon: Portland Police shot a man who then allegedly killed himself, then officers in Albany and Springfield shot and killed suspects. Meanwhile, questions continue to arise regarding the PPB's previous shooting in January, and news has filtered in about the City's mysterious "Use of Force Review Board" (UFRB).

Jerry Goins, 38, back from his Navy base in California, was reportedly heading to the recruiting station at Eastport Plaza on SE 82nd Ave when police got a call that he was armed and would be looking for his girlfriend. Officer Richard Steinbronn (#32940) arrived on scene, talked to the woman, called Goins on the phone, and thought he had the situation under control. As he prepared to leave with his Cadet ride-along, he saw Goins and ordered him to drop his gun. Reports say that Goins pointed the gun at police, and Steinbronn shot him four times in the chest­but that Goins then died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. How he was pointing the gun both at police and himself is unclear.

Police then called in the SERT team since they feared the mortally wounded man would use the gun that was still in his hand; rather than get him medical attention, they let him lie there for at least half an hour before declaring him dead at 4:51 PM (Portland Police News Release, July 20).

Steinbronn was previously involved in the fatal police shooting of Willie Grigsby in December 2004 (see PPR #34). In that case, he first used a Taser, was hit by a bullet, and then he and the other officers on the scene unloaded 27 bullets at Grigsby, hitting him 13 times. As Grigsby lay wounded, officers struck him with "bean bag" shots and Taser bursts.

Needless to say, it was the State Medical Examiner who declared that Goins' bullet, not any of Steinbronn's, was the cause of death (the ME is funded by State Police­see PPR #38). Adding to the police version of the story, newly reinstated Public Information Officer Brian Schmautz opined to the Portland Tribune (July 21): "At this point, one of two things was possible: He was going to kill himself in front of his girlfriend or he was going to kill her first, then himself."

The Albany shooting occurred at 2:00 the next morning, as suspected bank robber Rachel Lea Soto, 32, was shot and killed by Albany officer Dezi Meza when he recognized her in the back seat of a car and (he says) she drew a handgun (KGW-TV, July 20). At about 4:30 that afternoon, Springfield officer Brian Gay shot and killed Archie Willie Churchill III, who had run a red light on his motorcycle. Media reports claim that Churchill had an outstanding felony warrant and drew his gun on Gay because he did not want to go back to prison (Eugene Register Guard, July 22).

Meanwhile, Portland attorney Craig Colby continues to dig for information surrounding the last Portland shooting, in which Lt. Jeffrey Kaer shot and killed Dennis Young in a car outside Kaer's sister's home (PPR #38). Colby, who lives down the street from where the incident occurred, obtained police records of the shooting, examined skid marks left by Young's car, and states that the Lieutenant was not in danger at the time he fired his gun (Willamette Week [WW], May 17). Colby believes that "the reversing car cleared [Kaer] by 7 feet or more" and that Kaer was standing next to, not behind the car (WW, June 7).

While it is still far from clear how many shootings cases have gone before the City's new "Use of Force Review Board" (UFRB), Citizen Review Committee (CRC) members Llewellyn Robison and Loren Ericksson reported that they had been called upon to sit on two panels. Without revealing any details of their cases, they described the process, in which seven police and two civilians determine whether officer use of force was in policy or not. At the June CRC meeting, it was noted that any dissenting opinions from the majority are required to be part of the package sent to the Chief.

Apparently, Chief Foxworth rejected the idea that Leslie Stevens, director of the Independent Police Review Division (IPR), should have access to the UFRB reports. We hope Chief Sizer will agree to make this process more transparent. In addition to sharing with the IPR, the PPB should make public the outcomes of the Review Board's deliberations and the names of the 20 citizens who serve as a "pool" for the UFRB.


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