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Investigation of Suspicious Death at Copper Penny Club

November 16, 2003 00:00


Update: (11/18/03) Homicide Detectives are now confirming that Mr. Rusia died of Manual Strangulation and that the investigation is being treated as a homicide. Detectives continue to receive calls from potential witnesses and are conducting interviews. The detectives are setting up appointments as witnesses come forward, and several additional interviews are scheduled for the days ahead. If any reporter encounters a person who you believe may be a witness and the person has not been interviewed or contacted by police, please encourage them to contact the homicide detectives. Because of the large number of potential witnesses, detectives are reluctant to provide much additional detail about their investigation. All information gathered from all of the available witnesses continues to be consistent with the information released when the investigation began. Officers arrived at the Copper Penny on a fight call and contacted security. As they were beginning to secure Mr. Rusia, who was in the custody of Copper Penny security, they observed that he had no pulse and was not breathing. The officers began CPR and called for an ambulance. The victim was transported to Portland Adventist Hospital. At no time was there any physical altercation between Mr. Rusia and any Portland Police Officer. This conclusion was corroborated during the autopsy. Detectives continue to work closely with the District Attorney's office. No one has been arrested in connection with this investigation. Once the investigation is complete, the District Attorney's office will determine if a Grand Jury should be convened. If you have any specific questions about the Grand Jury process, you may call the Multnomah County DA's office at (503) 988-3162.

Press release:

On Sunday, November 16, 2003, at 2:37 a.m., Portland Police Bureau officers responded to a fight call at the Copper Penny club, located in the 5900 block of Southeast 92nd Avenue. Officers arrived and found that an altercation had occurred between security guards at the club and a 23-year-old man, Nafatali Rusia. During the course of this altercation, Rusia was physically restrained by security guards. Police officers, while in the process of securing Rusia, discovered that he was not breathing and had no pulse. Officers began CPR and requested an ambulance. Rusia was transported to Portland Adventist hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Medical Examiner has conducted an autopsy on the deceased. Due to the on-going investigation, Detectives are not releasing the cause of death at this time.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact Detective George Weatheroy at (503) 823-0886 or Detective Barry Renna at (503) 823-0255.


Media Relations:
Sgt. Pete Simpson
Desk: 503-823-0830
Pager: 503-790-1779

Portland Police Bureau
1111 SW 2nd Ave, Suite 1526
Portland, Oregon 97204



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