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Police Bureau

Sworn to protect. Dedicated to serve.

Phone: 503-823-0000

Fax: 503-823-0342

Non-Emergency: 503-823-3333

1111 S.W. 2nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

Questions Regarding the Shooting of Kendra James

 
The following ten questions were asked by members of the Albina Ministerial Alliance in regards to the shooting of Kendra James.
 
1. When the chief [Chief Kroeker] announced the suspension of the officer involved in the shooting of Kendra James, he stated that he had concerns leading up to the shooting of Kendra James. What were those concerns?
 
Chief Mark Kroeker stated in media interviews that though he thought the officer involved did not shoot Kendra James out of malice or bias, and the shooting was ruled justified, there were tactical errors that were made by the officer that led up to the shooting. It was because of those tactical decisions that Chief Kroeker felt it necessary to discipline the officer involved.
 
2. Why did the officer feel his life was threatened?
 
Through statements and demonstrations, Officer McCollister told investigating detectives that he was falling backwards out of the car and believed he was going to fall out of the car and either be run over or dragged on the street by the car, which could result in his injury or death.
 
3. There were two less lethal weapons used on Kendra James, pepper spray and a Taser. Was there an equipment failure or were they not properly used?
 
The investigation determined that the Taser deployed, but the Taser probes contacted Ms. James' clothing, but not her skin, not allowing for the desired effect.
 
As to the pepper spray, the Police Bureau was able to conclude that Officer McCollister did pull the canister from his belt. Investigators are able to conclude from tests that Officer McCollister's pepper spray canister was operating correctly. Forensics examination determined that no evidence of pepper spray existed inside of the car. Investigators were unable to conclusively determine whether or not Officer McCollister's thumb depressed the discharge button.
 
4. What is the training procedure regarding leaving a suspect and keys in a car?
 
The issue of leaving suspects and keys in a vehicle is covered in three lesson plans: unknown risk traffic stops, in and out of vehicles and high-risk stops.
 
In the lesson plan titled Unknown Risk Stops, the officer is trained to request that the violator remain in the car and to have the person shut off the car's motor. There is no mention of taking the keys from the violator.
 
In the lesson plan titled In and Out of Vehicles, there are two parts: one in which the person is cooperative and following instruction and one where the person is failing to follow verbal instructions. If the subject is cooperative, the officer asks the person to step out of the car then takes control of the person using the minimum custody hold. If the person does not follow the officer's verbal instruction to step out of the car, the officer uses a verbal distraction to direct the subject's attention way from the officer's action of opening the car door. The officer then directs the person to place both hands onto the steering wheel. The officer takes control of the person's left arm and escorts him/her out of the car using either a san kayjo or an arm bar. Once the subject is under the control of the officer, key removal is done by the subject at the direction of the officer.
 
In the training of High-Risk Traffic Stops, (note: the Kendra James incident was not considered to be a high-risk stop), the driver of the suspect car is ordered out of the car at gunpoint and is instructed to remove the keys from the vehicle and to hold them in his/her hand. The subject is then instructed to walk backwards to a point where officers can take physical custody of the person and retrieve the keys to the vehicle. A High-Risk Traffic Stop is performed when the officers know prior to stopping the vehicle that the occupants of the vehicle are wanted for a serious crime or there is information that leads officers to believe they or citizens are at greater risk of danger.
 
5. Is there a policy prohibiting a Police Officer involved in a shooting from communicating with other officers involved prior to an investigation?
 
Bureau Directive 1010.10 states: "The member will be provided time to discuss the incident with his/her immediate supervisor and/or RU Manager, union representative and private attorney. The member will avoid extensive discussion of the incident with anyone involved in the incident prior to being interviewed by a detective or supervisor."
 
Detective Division protocol now requires that a written communication restriction be issued to those members who either used deadly physical force, were involved in an in-custody death, witnessed the incident or when in the opinion of the Detective Division command, such a restriction is necessary to preserve the integrity of the investigation.
 
6. What is the City's medical liability for a police-shooting victim? What is the amount of the medical liability?
 
The city is self-insured and each case is handled individually. There is no set amount.
 
7. Why didn't the police just let her go and get her later, they knew her?
 
In many ways, this is a difficult question to answer because it requires the Bureau to speculate what the officers were thinking at the time of this incident. However, there is information from the investigation that is helpful in answering this question.
 
Officers Bean, McCollister and Reynolds were authorized by law to arrest Kendra James for a warrant listed in her name. It appears from the investigation of this incident that the actions of Kendra James were unexpected. The officers did not anticipate Kendra James to jump from the back passenger seat to the front driver's seat of the rental car at the time of the traffic stop. Initially, the occupants of the car did not give any indication that they were a threat to the police officers. According to the investigation, the officers believed that they were in control of the traffic stop. Terrol White, the driver of the rental car, said he turned the car off and he was later removed from the car, placed into custody and seated in the back seat of a patrol car for safekeeping. Terrol White was cooperative, he was arrested and placed into custody without incident.
 
Once it was fully understood by the officers that all the subjects in the rental car were going to be placed into custody, they did not have any immediate concerns that the suspects would be uncooperative. The rental car was turned off. Darnell White was sitting in the passenger front seat and Kendra James was sitting in the rear passenger seat without immediate access to the driver's area. Additionally, there were three officers at the scene surrounding the car and the occupants. There was no belief of possible escape by the occupants of the rental car. Officer Bean stated in his interview: "Yeah, that was actually my whole intention, was to make it known to her that this was real and that we had her trapped, basically. We had officers on the other side, I was there, she had no means of escape, so she just needed to give up and comply with our request." The officers attempted a low-key approach, not rushing Kendra James or immediately using physical force to remove her from the rental car.
 
It was not until Kendra James unexpectedly jumped into the driver's seat that the officers realized the predicament they were faced with. Officer McCollister attempted to prevent the escape of Kendra James. Officer McCollister unsuccessfully deployed his aerosol restraint and the application of the hair hold against Kendra James was also unsuccessful. Officer Reynolds unsuccessfully deployed the Taser. The actions of Officer McCollister occurred before Kendra James actually put the rental car into gear and began to drive forward. It was his belief that he would be able to physically control Kendra James and prevent her from escaping. It appears the actions of Officer Reynolds occurred just before the rental car began to move forward.
 
It also appears that there was never the intention of any of the officers present to use deadly force against Kendra James. In short, attempts were made to place Kendra James into custody because those officers present believed it could successfully be accomplished. It was only after Officer McCollister was caught inside the moving rental car that he believed his life was threatened and he used deadly physical force against Kendra James.
 
8. Is it Police Department policy to handcuff and leave a person unattended after being shot by a police officer?
 
Post shooting training instructs the officer to first challenge the shot person from a position of cover telling him/her to put his/her hands out, cross his/her feet and put his/her nose on the ground. If the person is capable of following instructions, he/she may be ordered to move to a position that gives the officers a tactical advantage from which they can take control of the person. The next step is to handcuff the person using a team that includes armed cover and one or two officers to take physical control of the person. Once cuffed, the person is searched then placed on his/her side with the lower leg pulled up to prevent the person from rolling onto his/her stomach (positional asphyxia). Additionally, training instructs the officer to call for medical to respond to the scene and to stand by with the subject until medical help arrives.
 
9. Did any of the officers involved in the shooting leave the shooting scene prior to being relieved by a superior officer? What is the policy regarding an officer involved in a shooting leaving a shooting scene, prior to being relieved by a superior officer?
 
Yes, Officer Reynolds left the scene after the shooting and after the arrival of assisting officers and an on-scene supervisor. Officer Reynolds stated the reason for leaving the crime scene was that he needed to use the bathroom. Officer Reynolds was taken to Northeast Precinct and driven back to the crime scene. The officers involved did not notify a supervisor or any other officer they left the scene.
 
In later interviews, arriving officers stated that it appeared Officer Reynolds was traumatized by the incident. Officer Endicott, who accompanied him, also felt that Officer Reynolds appeared traumatized and believed that he was assisting Officer Reynolds by allowing him to use a restroom.
 
However, Officers Reynolds failed to remain at the scene and failed to notify a supervisor of his actions. These actions are in violation of Directive 1010.10, allowing a bureau member involved in a deadly force encounter to drive a vehicle immediately after the incident. It also states that the involved member and witness officers will remain at the scene until released by a supervisor and a detective must approve the release. While it is clear that no detective was available at the time Officer Endicott and Reynolds left the crime scene, supervisor approval was required.
 
10. If nothing was done wrong in the shooting of Kendra James, can we expect more of the same in the future? If not, why?
 
No one in the Portland Police Bureau wants to be involved in a shooting but each day our officers contact potentiality violent offenders. That being said, the Portland Police Bureau will continue to research and explore new options for less lethal control of violent or aggressive suspects. The Taser is one example of use of technology to decrease the need for deadly force. In both 2001 and 2002, the Police Bureau had eight applications of deadly force. Since full implementation of the Taser in 2003, this year to date, the Bureau has had only 2 applications of deadly force. In addition to the Taser, the Bureau has trained more than 200 Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officers who successfully diffuse violent situations on a daily basis.
 
In addition, the Bureau and citizen volunteers are currently evaluating directives, training and investigative issues in regards to use of force. This community and police effort-the Community Police Organizational Review Team-CPORT-has been meeting and analyzing Portland Police Bureau policies as well as others from other law enforcement agencies. The Portland Police Bureau fully supported and cooperated with the research conducted by the Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC). The final product is a report which takes a comprehensive look at officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths from 1997 to June 30, 2000, and includes many recommended changes to Police Bureau policy and procedures.
 
The Bureau is currently evaluating the PARC recommendations and will be implementing many of them as soon as possible.

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