Members of the Albina Ministerial Alliance and other activists expressed outrage Monday over a decision by a state arbitrator to reinstate a Portland police officer who killed an unarmed African American man in 2010.
Rev. LeRoy Haynes, chair of the alliance’s Coalition for Justice and Police Reform, urged a federal review of the state arbitration system because of its long history of ruling in the favor of Portland police.
He said Friday’s arbitration ruling says that those who are elected cannot hold police officers in this city accountable.
“It says any police officer can do what they want to do,” Haynes said. It means we cannot trust our police department.”
A police union challenge of Officer Ronald Frashour’s termination largely rested on the testimony of police training instructors who said Frashour followed his training when he used deadly force against the 25-year-old Campbell on Jan. 29, 2010.
Campbell was distraught over his brother’s death when he emerged from a Northeast Sandy Boulevard apartment, with his back toward officers and his hands behind his head. One officer fired six bean bag rounds at the man. Campbell ran toward a parked car. Frashour fired a single rifle shot, killing Campbell.
At Monday’s protest, more than a hundred people stood around the steps of City Hall to hear speeches against the arbitrator’s decision.
Midge Purcell, director of advocacy for the Urban League of Portland, said as a mother she was concerned about her children’s encounters with police.
The Rev. T. Allen Bethel, president of the Albina Ministerial Alliance, said it was time for Frashour to leave the police bureau. He asked the president of the police union to look into his heart and quit defending police officers who shoot unarmed black residents.
State Rep. Lew Frederick, representing north and northeast Portland, and former state Rep. Jo Ann Hardesty, also of Portland’s African-American community, also spoke out against Frashour’s reinstatement.
Tom Steenson, the attorney representing the Campbell family, said he’s come to the conclusion that the police bureau’s training division should be eliminated because the city has lost the ability to control the police union and the police bureau.
In a 73-page ruling issued Friday after 16 days of testimony, the arbitrator ordered the city to reinstate Frashour to his former job and make up his lost wages.
Jane Wilkinson found Frashour’s observation that Campbell was reaching into his waistband after the other officer fired beanbag rounds at him to be credible, based on three independent witnesses who described a similar movement.
“Court decisions and the Police Bureau training have emphasized that officers need not wait to see a weapon before firing, so long as there is the reasonable possibility, considering all circumstances, that the suspect is pulling a gun,” Wilkinson wrote.
Mayor Sam Adams, who serves as police commissioner, said the city would appeal her ruling. The case would likely go before the state Employment Relations Board.
Adams said he informed Campbell’s mother of the ruling and expressed his disappointment.
The Campbell family agreed to settle a federal wrongful death suit against the city for $1.2 million in February.
Police Chief Mike Reese said it was unreasonable for Frashour to believe that Campbell posed an “immediate threat” of death or serious injury. In a statement, Reese said he had imposed “what I believed to be appropriate discipline.”
The Portland Police Association called the case a tragedy for both the Campbell family and the city.
“It was wrong, though, to compound that tragedy with political decision-making that disregarded the facts of what occurred that night,” said the union president, Officer Daryl Turner.
He said 25 Portland police officers testified before the arbitrator that Frashour’s use of deadly force was reasonable and in full compliance with bureau rules.