On Sunday, March 28, Portland Police shot and killed James Jahar Akbar Perez, 28, an unarmed African American man, after pulling him over for failure to signal a turn. Officer Jason Sery (#36878) fired three rounds into Perez' car after some kind of altercation, but witnesses say Perez never even took off his seat belt (KOIN-TV, 3/29/04).
Perez is the third young, unarmed African American person shot by police in the last 3 years, following Byron Hammick on February 22, 2002 and Kendra James on May 5, 2003. In a city with one of the smallest African American populations in the nation, this is a worrisome statistic.
Information is slow to be released. We know that Sery's partner, Sean Macomber (#37147) fired a Taser after Sery shot Perez, and the Taser, which puts out a 50,000 volt pulse for five seconds at a time, was running for over three minutes.
The City has agreed to hold a public inquest for there to be a full airing of the facts. Although the inquest will determine how Perez died, the decision about whether to file criminal charges will be left up to a secret grand jury.
Although it is rare to see pictures of police officers after shootings, KGW-TV ran an old picture of Sery, apparently from his days as a Montana police officer, during the week of March 29. A few hours after first running the picture, they chose to blur out the officer's face. The photo appearing here was published in "Portland's Finest: Past & Present" in the year 2000 and is used for educational purposes.
Call Mayor Katz, Police Commissioner at 503-823-4120 and demand accountability. This must
include citizen review of all police shootings, within weeks of the incident by local citizens rather
than two years or more after the fact by outside agencies.
Demand that state law and City policy be changed to emphasize that an officer who uses deadly force with the "reasonable belief" that there is a threat to his or another's life must be able to prove there was an objectively reasonable belief that such a threat existed.
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