Portland Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman has directed that Police Officer Christopher Humphreys be placed on administrative leave while investigators look into Humphreys firing a beanbag round at the thigh of a 12-year-old girl at close range.
In this release (PDF), police say Humphreys —who also was involved in the death of James Chasse— and Officer Aaron Dauchy responded to a call at 10:47 pm last Saturday that took them to the MAX platform on 162nd Avenue. Police say officers were told there had been a large party with several gang members that had just broken up, and that a gun had been found in bushes near the party.
Humphreys and Dauchy got on the MAX train heading west with about 20-30 teen-agers, including a girl Dauchy knew was excluded from the trains, police say. When Dauchy tried to take her into custody, police say she swung at him and resisted despite repeated warnings from Humphreys that he would fire the beanbag gun.
Police Chief Rosie Sizer says a TriMet video of the incident left her “troubled.” And Saltzman said he “directed that Officer Humphreys be immediately removed from the street and placed on administrative leave.”
Sizer read the prepared statement at a news conference and took no questions. Police spokeswoman, Det. Mary Wheat, wouldn’t comment on whether there was a policy dictating the proper range for a beanbag shot.
UPDATE: After Sizer ended her news conference without taking questions, police union president Scott Westerman held his own news conference on the steps of the Justice Center.
Flanked by about 40 other officers, Westerman said Humphreys is a “well-respected” officer and called his actions “appropriate, justified, warranted and necessary” to defuse the situation. Westerman said regulations governing beanbag use require shots to the torso be from at least 10 feet away but that in closer-range situations, beanbag rounds to the extremities are OK. Westerman added that there are no restrictions on using beanbags against children.
Westerman ascribed Humphreys’ punishment to what he termed a “bias” against Humphreys after the Chasse death. And Westerman said Saltzman’s decision to put Humphreys on administrative leave overrode Sizer’s decision to only take Humphreys off the street.
He said both Sizer and Saltzman have lost the confidence of police rank-and-file.
READ – Officer’s Use of Force to be Investigated; Police Bureau Releases Information and Video Regarding Incident, PPB – November 19, 2009