A secret grand jury met April 21-23 in Portland to determine whether to indict Officers Jason Sery and Sean Macomber on their roles in the shooting of James Jahar Perez on March 28. The District Attorney, who had complete control over who would speak at the grand jury and what questions would be asked, did not end up with an indictment.
The following week, the DA, Michael Schrunk, convened a public inquest, which in Oregon is designed to ask: Who died, where, how, and in what manner. After three days, during which the Perez family's lawyer was allowed to ask questions through the DA (including some passed on from the general public), that jury found that Jahar Perez died March 28 of a gunshot wound to the heart on N Fessenden in Portland. It was a homicide (one person took another's life), they said, but were forbidden from judging whether it was justified.
After the hearing was over on Friday the DA took the jurors into their jury room to help them put their thoughts together on the case, in which Sery shot Perez within 24 seconds of a traffic stop because he feared Perez was going for a gun. Perez was unarmed.
The inquest jury released a letter on May 5 to the Mayor, the Chief and the Perez family. While their language is reserved, the message is pretty clear: pretext stops, racial profiling and quick-draw police who fear citizens are not acceptable to this community.
It would have been interesting to see what the grand jury would have written as well.
This is the link for the letter:
An internal investigation is being conducted to determine whether the officers will be disciplined for failing to follow Police Bureau policies. A separate investigation by the FBI into possible civil rights violations is also ongoing.
---Posted May 5, 2004
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