February 20, 2013 17:35Today, Wednesday February 20, 2013, the Portland Police Bureau is releasing additional information about Sunday evening's officer-involved shooting at Portland Adventist Medical Center (PAMC).
Investigators recovered a black piece of plastic near the body of the suspect, 50-year-old Merle Mikal Hatch. This black piece of plastic is approximately eight inches long and two inches wide. Detectives believe that the suspect used this piece of plastic to simulate a handgun when he encountered hospital security at two different times and, later, Portland Police officers.
During the course of the investigation, detectives believe that the suspect stole a telephone receiver handle from the hospital and then broke it in half to simulate a handgun.
A photo of this piece of evidence is being released to the public as well as an undamaged phone handle taken by detectives for comparison.
Detectives have not recovered a handgun and at this time, do not believe that the suspect ever possessed a handgun during this encounter.
An area resident who had his window open heard some noise outside and captured video of the suspect prior to the shooting, including the suspect's actions leading up to and including the shooting.
This video, which mainly features audio of the subject, is being released to the public and can be viewed at http://youtu.be/knFmNQawGMI Please note that its audio is graphic.
Additionally, detectives are releasing the audio recording of the dispatched call and subsequent radio traffic leading up to and including the officer-involved shooting. This audio can be heard at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/audio/PP13-54134_a.mp3
During the incident officers responded to the parking lot where the suspect was located. The suspect continued to challenge the officers and refuse commands. The officers intentionally kept their distance, while they were waiting for additional resources. However, during the course of the encounter, the suspect charged at the officers, running 65 yards toward them. The officers deployed lethal force from 14 yards away.
Following the shooting this week, Portland Police Bureau Robbery detectives have determined that Hatch was involved in a bank robbery last week in Northeast Portland. The robbery occurred on Wednesday February 13, 2013, at 2:41 p.m., at the Albina Community Bank, located at 5636 Northeast Sandy Boulevard. In the robbery, the suspect, later identified as Merle Hatch, used a demand note to obtain an undisclosed amount of money from the bank. Surveillance photos from this robbery are also being released today as well.
At this time, all involved and witness officers have been interviewed by the Portland Police Bureau. However, because all of these officers and other witnesses will be testifying at Grand Jury, we cannot release any additional details at this time.
This remains an ongoing officer-involved shooting investigation and the Portland Police Bureau is committed to releasing as much information as possible in a timely manner. The three pieces of evidence being released today are being shared with the consent of investigators and the District Attorney's Office. It's important to understand that during any investigation, there are things that cannot be shared prior to all interviews being completed.
The Police Bureau did not release specific information about the recovery of the piece of plastic or the lack of recovery of a gun earlier than today, because it could have affected the integrity of witness interviews. Generally, evidence like this can't be shared until after detectives have an opportunity to conduct most, if not all, interviews. Though the Bureau's goal is to be completely transparent in regard to officer-involved shootings, the Bureau's first priority is to complete a thorough investigation to be presented to the District Attorney's Office.
At the completion of the investigation, the case file will be given to the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office for presentation to a Grand Jury. The three involved Bureau members will remain on standard paid administrative leave until the completion of the Grand Jury.
Following the Grand Jury, the Bureau will release additional information as is standard practice. Additionally, as part of the use of force review process, the Bureau will conduct an internal review of the entire incident and the case will go before the Bureau's Use of Force Review Board (UFRB).
Attachment: VIEW FILES
Sgt. Pete Simpson