Fairview police say man shot by police had attacked officer; his mother says the shooter panicked

From The Oregonian, January 30, 2012

Fairview police released the names of the two officers involved in the city’s first fatal police shooting on Monday, saying one of the officers had been attacked by the victim “brandishing a large knife” within moments of their arrival.

Officer Mike Morton, a 15-year-veteran of the department, shot at Larry McKinney three times shortly before midnight Friday, killing him in the doorway of his mother’s apartment. His partner, Joe Kaiser, had been attacked by McKinney, according to the statement.

Fairview Police Chief Ken Johnson declined to comment about the case until it goes before a grand jury late next week. The two officers have been put on paid administrative leave.

“It is anticipated that information from the Grand Jury will be released to the public so that all the facts and circumstance of the case can be clearly understood and speculation and false rumors can be corrected,” the news release said.

Sandra Kelley, 60, the victim’s mother, said she’s had a few calls from a Portland detective but no contact with the Fairview Police Department. The shooting is being investigated by the east county major crimes team, which includes the Multnomah County Sheriff’s office and Portland, Gresham and Troutdale police.

Two and a half days after the shooting, she is wracked with guilt, feeling like she’s responsible for his death.

If only she hadn’t decided to get tough. If only she hadn’t called police.

But she’s angry, too, about their reaction. She said they panicked and fired.

“I want the truth out there,” she said.

Kelley had never called the police before on her troubled 37-year-old son, who’d recently been released from jail and had a drinking problem. But this time she decided to lay down the law. He’d been drinking. He had to leave.

She called 9-1-1.

Minutes later, two police officers showed up outside her apartment building in Fairview.

Seconds after that her only son was dead, she said.

“It wasn’t even a minute,” she said on Monday, sobbing as she talked about the events leading up to the police shooting.

It started Friday evening in her apartment in the Wood Creek Village complex on Northeast Halsey Street near 203rd Avenue. For about the past week, he’d been crashing on her couch in her second-story two-bedroom apartment that she shares with her brother. He was on parole and was not supposed to drink. He’d just seen his parole officer that morning, she said.

This time, she hoped he would steer his life straight.

But when he called, she could tell he’d been drinking. She told him to stay away. No drinking. Those were the rules.

But he hopped into a cab and turned up anyway. She tried to get him to leave, pushing him out the door, but he refused. She went into her bedroom and locked the door.

He shoved it open. She picked up her cell phone and called emergency dispatch, saying she wanted police to get her son out of her apartment. No, she said, she was not worried about her own safety. She just wanted him to leave.

The dispatcher told her to stay on the phone and go downstairs to wait for police. She walked out the door and down the 14 steps to a patch of grass below as a patrol car drove up. Officers Joe Kaiser and Mike Morton got out and immediately drew their weapons, she said.

She was shocked.

“I don’t want you to shoot him,” she said she told them as they walked towards the bottom of the stairs. “I want you to make him leave.”

She said they asked if there were any weapons in her home, and she said no.

They took a few steps to the bottom of the stairs, their guns drawn, and her son walked out onto the landing. He was holding a slicing knife with a blade about an inch wide and six inches long.

She told him to put the knife down.

The cops told him to put weapon down.

McKinney stared and said nothing, she said, and then — bam, bam, bam — the cop on her right — Morton — fired three times.

She saw her son slump into her entryway.

“They shot him so fast — it happened before I could breathe,” she said. “They didn’t Tase him. They didn’t use rubber bullets. They just shot him down.”

Gerald Kelley, Kelley’s brother, was watching television in the living room at the time. He said his nephew was shot about seven seconds after he walked out onto the landing.

McKinney has a long rap sheet dating to 1993. He has been on and off probation and in and out of jail, mostly convicted of misdemeanors though he also was sentenced for assault, harassment and drug charges.

He has three children — daughters 3 and 9 and a 10-year-old son — with his longtime partner.

“He has a family who loves him,” said Cynthia Champion, his half sister.