1111 S.W. 2nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97204
March 29, 2004 00:00
Let me first start by saying that I understand that there are feelings in the community today regarding last night’s shooting. These feelings may range from anger and frustration to the need for answers to questions that people have.
We are going to provide you with as much information as we can today—but understand that we are still gathering the facts of the case. Our job is to gather all the facts and not draw any conclusions. Detectives must thoroughly investigate this incident and pass those facts on to the District Attorney’s office. There is still much to do in this investigation, including interviewing and re-interviewing the officers involved, interviewing and re-interviewing witnesses, searching the vehicle involved and many more tasks. We will brief you today on the things we can tell you at this point, and we’ll take a few of your questions afterwards, but understand, that we probably will not be able to answer many due to the ongoing nature of this investigation.
I met with the family of the deceased last night and again today. I will also be meeting with Northeast and North community leaders today. The Portland Police Bureau Crisis Response Team was on-scene last night as well, and its members—who are residents of North and Northeast Portland—are an invaluable resource as they are able to assist the family and friends and act as a liaison with the Police Bureau.
Here are the facts that we can tell you at this time:
On Sunday, March 28, 2004, at 5:07 p.m., Officers Sean Macomber and Jason Sery, both 5-year veterans of the Police Bureau, made a traffic stop on a 1997 Mitsubishi Diamante at North Fessenden and North Burr Avenue for a moving traffic violation.
A driver, later identified as 28-year-old James Jahar Perez, was contacted by officers. Perez said he did not have a driver’s license, nor was he able to produce identification.
Officer Maccomber came into physical contact with Mr. Perez in an effort to take him into custody. During the struggle, the other officer, Officer Sery, fired multiple shots at Perez, striking him in the mid-body area. At some point, a Taser was also used on Mr. Perez. Medical aid was summoned for Mr. Perez, and he was pronounced dead at the scene by medical personnel.
North Precinct supervisors and command staff were notified as well as Homicide Detectives from the Detective Division. Five Portland Police Bureau detectives are investigating this case, as well as one detective from Oregon State Police and one detective from the Gresham Police Department, per our agreement of the East County Major Crimes Team process. This is a homicide investigation—as is any officer-involved shooting that results in a death—and will be handled as such by Detectives in coordination with the DA’s office. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office is overseeing the investigation, and a Senior Deputy District Attorney was on scene and is working with detectives. The State Medical Examiner is conducting an autopsy on Mr. Perez today.
I want to emphasize that during the past year, the Police Bureau has responded to community concerns regarding procedures that follow an officer-involved shooting that results in a death, by adopting many new policies. All of these new polices were adhered to during this investigation.
The involved officers were separated as soon as the scene was secure and stable, and both of the involved officers have been given communications restrictions in accordance with Police Bureau policy. The witness officer was interviewed last night, as were other responding officers. The officer who shot Mr. Perez will be interviewed this afternoon.
A number of citizen witnesses were interviewed last night, and we have identified additional citizens who will be interviewed as soon as possible. The vehicle involved is being thoroughly searched today. We hope to conclude this investigation by the end of the week. At the conclusion, the matter will be turned over to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office.
In closing, I would like to say again that I acknowledge and recognize the heightened emotion in the community, and the need for answers to questions regarding this incident.
To the members of the Police Bureau, I want to say that this is a difficult job that you do each and every day—last year, officers had 433,000 citizen contacts. There is a lot of hard work being performed every day—but it’s times like these that make their job even more challenging. The use of lethal force is painful for any officer, and we must look to the investigation to guide us through the process.
To the family, I want to say that I know this is a painful time for you, and you are grieving the loss of a loved one. Members of the Police Bureau’s Crisis Response Team will continue to be on hand to assist you and the community.
And to the community, I want to ask for your patience. This investigation is seeking the answers to the questions you have. It will be done in a thorough, yet timely manner. I am committed to having an open and transparent Police Bureau, and at the conclusion of the criminal review, all information regarding this incident will be shared with the public.
Sgt. Pete Simpson