After nearly 10 months of protests and tension between police and black leaders, one Portland, Oregon police officer has been dismissed and three others are suspended in the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Aaron Campbell.
The incident happened on January 29 when police responded to a call at an apartment complex in Portland.
Campbell, reportedly distraught over his brother’s death and under the influence of alcohol, had threatened suicide, even taking out a gun and holding it to his head.
When police arrived, his girlfriend and her three children, including two of Campbell’s, were removed from the scene and a police officer was negotiating a non-violent resolve with Campbell.
As Campbell emerged from the apartment with his hands on his head, one officer prematurely reacted by firing beanbags, another released a police dog and a third fired the fatal shot.
Though Campbell was visibly unarmed police left him lying on the ground for more than 30 minutes before a special weapons unit arrived to confirm there was no weapon.
Yet, a grand jury in Multnomah County ruled that no crime had been committed but said police training, command and communication were inadequate.
Officer Ron Frashour, a sniper who fired the fatal round, was fired for not complying with department policies on the use of deadly force.
He later stated that he thought Campbell was reaching for a weapon but police investigators determined that he was not reasonable in that assumption.
Officer Ryan Lewton was reprimanded for using a bean bag gun against Campbell even though he gave no indication of violent behavior, and emerged from his property walking backwards with his hands on his head.
Sergeants Liani Reyna and John Birkinbine were disciplined for communications failures.
Both of them, along with Lewton, were suspended for two weeks without pay for unsatisfactory performance.
Campbell’s family is also taking legal action against the city and the four police officers involved.
This – what many people believe insufficient – disciplinary action comes on the heels of the sentencing of Johannes Mehserle, the Oakland transit officer who fatally shot an unarmed Oscar Grant almost two years ago.
He was given a two-year prison sentence November 5, and will be given credit for time served.
Mehserle, who is white, shot Grant, who was black, in the back while restraining him on a train platform; the incident was caught on video.
Mehserle claimed he intended to use his Taser and plans to appeal the court decision.