Aaron Campbell’s Mother Hopes $1.2 Million Settlement Prompts Portland Police Reforms

By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Marva Davis, mother of Aaron Campbell, talks about her family's decision to settle a suit against the Police Bureau for $1.2 million.

Stuart Tomlinson/The Oregonian
Marva Davis, mother of Aaron Campbell, talks about her family's decision to settle a suit against the Police Bureau for $1.2 million.

Members of the Albina Ministerial Alliance this morning stood with Aaron Campbell’s mother in support of the recent $1.2 million settlement of the family’s federal wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Portland.

Marva Davis, Campbell’s mother who had lost another son the day a Portland police officer fatally shot 25-year-old Campbell on Jan. 29, 2010, said she agreed to settle the case because she didn’t want to experience the pain again.

“I don’t want to relive this again. It hurts,” Davis said, speaking outside City Hall. “I lost two sons that day, just not Aaron. I don’t want to relive that.”

But she said she hopes the case prompts reforms in the Portland Police Bureau.

The family’s attorney, Tom Steenson, has publicly urged Police Chief Mike Reese to address a “disconnect” between the chief’s findings that the shooting violated policy, and the expected testimony of at least 11 bureau training instructors who said the chief was wrong and the officers involved acted as trained.

“I just hope we can work together and get to a point where we can feel good about calling the police,” Davis said.

Campbell, distraught and suicidal over his brother’s death earlier that day, emerged from his girlfriend’s Northeast Portland apartment, walking backwards with his hands behind his head. Officer Ryan Lewton fired six beanbag less-lethal shotgun rounds at him, when Campbell didn’t follow his orders to put his hands in the air.

Officer Ronald Frashour fired a single shot from his AR-15 rifle, as Campbell ran behind a car. Frashour has said he thought Campbell was reaching for a gun. The 25-year-old was unarmed.

The Rev. LeRoy Haynes of the Albina Ministerial Alliance, and Marva Davis, mother of Aaron Campbell call for police reforms, better training in the use of deadly force.

The chief and mayor fired Frashour; the Portland Police Association is challenging the termination before a state arbitrator.

LeRoy Haynes, chair of the Albina Ministerial Alliance’s Coalition for Justice and Police Reform, today praised Campbell’s family.

“This family has shown their strength and this mother has shown what she’s made up of – grace to struggle against the injustices that were committed against their son Aaron Campbell, in this horrendous act of shooting an unarmed young African American in the back with his hands locked around his neck,” Haynes said.

Haynes said the coalition echoes the family’s call for the chief and Mayor Sam Adams to address “the contradiction between policy and training within the bureau.”

Haynes also called on the U.S. Department of Justice to examine the Campbell case closely. Steenson has sent a package to the federal investigators containing trial discovery documents.

Although the coalition would have preferred a trial to allow the community to see the “brokenness” in the Police Bureau, Haynes said he hopes the Campbell case will be a “pivotal lawsuit” that will spur bureau reforms.

“Let us use this historical moment in a positive way to create a better Police Bureau,” Haynes said.

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