Two Portland police involved in Saturday officer-involved shooting are identified

Joshua Baker

Joshua Baker

By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, Oct. 1, 2012

Two Portland police officers were involved in a shooting early Saturday after responding to a call of shots fired at a Southeast Portland apartment building.

East Precinct officers were called to Hathaway Apartments, at 3320 Southeast 134th Ave., at 3:54 a.m. Saturday. The officers who responded found 38-year-old Vadim V. Kobenko shot. He was transported to a local hospital.

But police pursued a suspect as he fled in a truck.

“After a short pursuit, the suspect crashed into a fence at 148th and NE San Rafael,” Lt. Robert King said in a prepared news release. “At the crash site, there was an officer-involved shooting.”

Portland police on Monday identified the suspect arrested as 27-year-old Joshua Stephen Baker, who police say suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Police did not say what led up to the shooting, or how many shots were fired, or where Baker was struck.

“Following the shooting,” King continued in a news release, “the suspect refused to comply with commands from uniform officers, and then SERT was activated.”

Officers from the Special Emergency Reaction Team took Baker into custody. A firearm was located at the scene, police said.

Kobenko, the man Baker is accused of shooting in Southeast Portland, is hospitalized in critical condition, police said.

The two officers involved in the shooting are Erik Strohmeyer, a 12-year bureau veteran, and Garry Britt, a 4-year bureau member.

The Independent Police Review Division and investigators from the police bureau’s Internal Affairs Division both responded to the police shooting scene.

Baker was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center Monday afternoon after he was treated for injuries at a local hospital. Baker is accused of first-degree assault with a firearm, attempted murder with a firearm, and fourth-degree assault involving domestic violence.

King said the officers involved in the shooting have not been interviewed yet.

“Interviews are occurring this week and we will release more details when we are able to,” he said, in an e-mailed response to an Oregonian question.

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Business as usual at the Multnomah County jail

Editorial column by Steve Duin, from The Oregonian September 29, 2012

Kenneth Yeo was shooting hoops in Hillsboro five years ago when he noticed the Washington Country sheriff’s patrol cars circling the park and decided the jig was up.

As the hoop was a few short blocks from the county jail, Yeo was once again imagining things. That’s not surprising: He has been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder and post traumatic stress syndrome.

Nonetheless, Yeo presented himself at the jail and asked if he had an outstanding warrant.

As a matter of fact, Yeo did — failure to appear in Multnomah County — so Washington County took him into custody.

Yeo, 29, had a history at the facility; he was jailed there for two months in 2005. “They knew what happened to him when he didn’t get his meds,” says Joel Greenberg, an attorney with Disability Rights Oregon. Yeo reminded the intake staff that he needed those drugs.

But it was the Memorial Day weekend. When the jail staff phoned Yeo’s provider, it didn’t get a call back, much less the essential medications.

By the time Yeo was transferred to the Justice Center in Portland on May 27, he was coming apart. And the Multnomah County deputies, unlike those in Hillsboro, had no sense of Yeo’s medical history.

Yeo was placed in a separation cell. Greenberg says: “Within the next five hours, he took his clothes off, stood on the toilet and did calisthenics. They have a policy that no one gets housed until they’re seen by medical, but medical never saw him.”

Instead, Yeo was moved into a disciplinary unit. “Over the next two days, he’s twice found in a flooded cell, covered with his own feces and sliding back and forth in the water,” Greenberg says. “Sorta like a slip-and-slide.

“He’s completely decompensated now. Completely out of his skull.” And still without the meds he needs for anxiety, sleep and psychosis.

Thus, when the deputies eventually attempt the cell extraction, it didn’t go well. Yeo was tased. A cut on his head required stitches. He would spend a month at OHSU Hospital, Greenberg says, “before he’s lucid enough to see his family. Depending on whether you believe me, he’s never really been the same.”

When Yeo brought this story to Greenberg in 2008, the attorney figured he had a significant tort claim.

But he also had a case of deja vu. Too many people struggling with mental illness were getting lost in a county jail that was both underfunded and overcrowded.

So Greenberg approached Jacqueline Weber, a county attorney, in February 2009 and proposed the following: The county should compensate Yeo and pay “modest” attorney fees, a total of $100,000.

And it should direct the rest of its potential financial exposure in a federal civil-rights lawsuit to changes in “how the jail processes, assesses and treats inmates with obvious or known mental illness.”

Greenberg’s ideas? Equip each inmate with a medical “passport.” Ensure that mental health professionals who can provide psych meds are on site 24/7.

Train corrections staff to understand that when they can’t determine whether the inmate’s psychosis is the result of drug use or mental illness, they can’t assume drugs are the problem.

Forty-three months later?

“We settled for $80,000,” Greenberg says. “The systemic changes they agreed to were feeble. I don’t think they’re going to change what happens at the jail.”

Because he’s been around the block a few times — he was a special-ed teacher and public defender before joining Disability Rights Oregon — Greenberg recounts this with wry resignation.

The county’s risk management was dismissive. When Greenberg decided he had no choice but to file his lawsuit, he lost his leverage. The county went on the defensive, with attorney Patrick Henry at middle linebacker.

“An opportunity lost,” Greenberg said. “Neither side got anything useful.”

Not for lack of trying, argues David Austin, the county’s communications director:

“We engaged Mr. Greenberg in conversation about ideas he had on a number of occasions and encouraged him to give us specific ideas on how we might improve the system of care. Taxpayers pay for this system that cares for some of the most vulnerable people and we hear from mental health providers and clients who get services all the time.

“The question we ask? Will the proposal lead to improved patient health and patient outcomes? Unfortunately, we are not able to agree to implement proposals that would cause a costly redirection of resources to an already underfunded system.

“It’s not realistic to bring in more doctors at the jail for a system that’s been faced with making cut after cut after cut.”

Which means that you don’t need Kenneth Yeo’s imagination to realize the Kenneth Yeo debacle didn’t change a thing.

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Bill W. at Cinema 21 October 1 @ 4:30 PM and FREE

We have 80+ seats 50+ seats left for the Portland sneak preview of Bill W., a new documentary about the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The film will play at the Cinema 21 theater in NW Portland on October 1 at 4:30 PM. The screening is free. Bill W. will continue October 7-11.

More about the filmSee the trailer – Register for general admission tickets below.

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Friday Night Flicks: The Doctor Who Hears Voices

In the interests of privacy, this film has an actress (Ruth Wilson) playing “Ruth,” who seeks help when she starts hearing voices telling her to kill herself — but that’s the real Dr. Rufus May, and he says Ruth’s story is based entirely on fact.

May is a National Health Service therapist in the U.K.  However, he is seeing Ruth outside his NHS practice because, as a junior doctor (similar to a medical resident in the U.S.), she does not want the hospital where she works to learn she’s not just depressed, as she told them; she is hearing voices.  Ruth says if they found that out, she would be “sacked and sectioned” — fired, and detained under the Mental Health Act.

May uses voice dialogue, a type of therapy that validates the experience of voice-hearing, as he works with Ruth.  A number of voice-hearers say they are helped by this approach, but there are psychiatrists who say the practice encourages delusions.  That’s just one controversial aspect of the film — and May’s practice, and May himself.

***Sorry, this video is no longer available at the host site. Will repost at a later date***

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Sgt. Kyle Nice, subject of two investigations, back on street with Portland police

From the Oregonian, September 27, 2012

Portland Police Chief Mike Reese is returning Sgt. Kyle Nice, who has been working behind a desk following two police internal investigations, back to patrol duty.

Kyle Nice

Kyle Nice

Nice has been on desk duty while he faced internal investigations for his role in an off-duty road rage encounter and for his role in the controversial arrest of James P. Chasse Jr.

On Sept. 21, Central Precinct Cmdr. Bob Day sent a memo to his staff to inform them that Nice was returning to Central Precinct, the last street assignment he had before desk duty. Day wrote that he was looking forward to having Nice’s “knowledge and experience of downtown to draw upon.”

But Thursday, when asked why the chief had re-assigned Nice to Central Precinct, police bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said Nice is actually headed to East Precinct. Simpson said the change was made because there’s a greater need for sergeants in East Precinct.

“Sgt. Nice has been filling supervisory roles for the past two years in the Training Division, Emergency Management Unit and most recently the Personnel Division. With a number of openings in the Operations Branch, Sgt. Nice will be assigned to patrol at East Precinct,” Simpson said in an email.

Officer Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, said “Nice is a competent supervisor and Chief Reese understood that, and that’s why he’s going back to the street.”

In July, an arbitrator ordered the Police Bureau to dismiss the two-week suspension that Nice faced for his role in the arrest of Chasse, who died in police custody in September 2006.

Then-police commissioner Dan Saltzman ordered Nice suspended for two weeks for failing to insist that Chasse be taken by ambulance to a hospital. Police had stunned Chasse with a Taser, and the jail had refused to book him because of his physical condition. Nice also was cited for not briefing paramedics fully about the police struggle and use of the stun gun against Chasse.

The arbitrator ruled that the city failed to prove its charges, particularly because “competent medical personnel approved or directed the transportation of Mr. Chasse by police car.”

In an unrelated incident, Nice was found to have acted “inappropriately” in an off-duty Washington County traffic confrontation in April 2010. Simpson declined to say what discipline Nice faced for the off-duty encounter, calling it a “personnel matter.”

The bureau found Nice used profane language and should not have drawn his weapon during a traffic encounter with another motorist who said Nice flipped him off at a traffic light and later unholstered his gun. It was his personal firearm, a Springfield Armory TRP.

The other motorist, Neil Ruffin, sued Nice in Multnomah County Circuit Court. The lawsuit has been settled for an undisclosed amount, according to Ruffin’s attorney, Greg Kafoury. Nice’s attorney in the civil case could not be reached for comment.

In a deposition taken of Nice while Ruffin’s lawsuit was pending, Nice told Kafoury he was moved off the street to a desk job after the Ruffin encounter, “but I have not been told why.”

Nice said at the time he preferred street work. “I kind of miss working where I worked before,” he said. “The work they’ve given me to do is — engaging and interesting, but I’ve always been a patrol officer and that’s where I prefer to work.”

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Understanding Psychiatric Medications Workshop Oct 21 w/ Will Hall 5.75 CEUs

Understanding Psychiatric Medications: A Harm Reduction Approach
Sunday, October 21, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Process Work Institute, 2049 NW Hoyt St. Portland

with Will Hall MA, Dipl PW

$120 ($108 before Oct. 8th)
Space limited; pre-registration recommended
Registration: info@processwork.org
Scholarship info: portlandhearingvoices@gmail.com
5.75 CEUs available for this workshop

Download flyer here: http://www.portlandhearingvoices.net/files/PsychMedicationsWorkshopOct21-2012WillHall.pdf

How can anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, and other drugs be used wisely? What are the risks and benefits? How can we collaborate effectively with prescribers, and what about reducing and withdrawal from medications? Come learn a pragmatic harm reduction approach that is neither pro- nor anti- medication, but instead based in mental diversity. Everyone is welcome: professionals, survivors, students, family, and anyone taking or not taking medications.

Will Hall, MA, DiplPW, is a therapist who has himself recovered from a diagnosis of schizophrenia and now teaches internationally. Director of Portland Hearing Voices and host of KBOO’s Madness Radio, Will has written in the Journal of Best Practices in Mental Health and in the upcoming Oxford University Press Modern Community Mental Health Work. He is author of the Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs, used widely in the peer recovery movement.http://www.willhall.net.

Co-Sponsored by: Process Work Institute, Portland Hearing Voices, Mental Health Association of Portland, and Empowerment Initiatives

For more information: www.processwork.org and www.portlandhearingvoices.net or call (503) 223-8188

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Oregon State Bar to prosecute Washington County district attorney, defense attorney on ethics violations

Published by The Oregonian, September 27, 2012

The Oregon State Bar will prosecute Washington County’s district attorney and a defense attorney on ethics violations stemming from their handling of a mentally ill man’s aggravated murder case.

Kateri Walsh, a state bar spokeswoman, said the decision came Saturday when the State Professional Responsibility Board reviewed the bar’s investigation into the allegations against District Attorney Bob Hermann and defense attorney Robert Axford.

Retired Judge Jim Hargreaves filed complaints regarding the two attorneys with the state bar in December. He also filed a complaint with the judicial fitness commission against Judge Thomas Kohl.

READ – Ethics complaints filed against Washington County district attorney, judge and defense attorney

Kohl signed an order for a “mental illness magistrate hold” in October, supposedly sending Donn Thomas Spinosa, 59, to the state hospital indefinitely.

Twice accused in his ex-wife’s 1997 killing in Aloha, Spinosa has never been found mentally fit to stand trial. Doctors have found Spinosa, diagnosed with schizophrenia, unable to care for himself and dangerous to others.

In his complaint to the state bar, Hargreaves said the law does not allow for the magistrate hold.

“Such an order is entirely without legal foundation in Oregon and stripped Mr. Spinosa of all his rights and protections,” Hargreaves wrote in the complaint.

Hargreaves’ complaint says Hermann, Axford and Kohl agreed to an “undeniably invalid order” to sidestep the law.

Hermann and Axford both told the state bar they believed the order was valid and did not intentionally violate the law.

READ – Washington County district attorney, defense attorney respond to complaints of ethics violations, misconduct

The state hospital asked Kohl to dismiss the order, which he did in May. Spinosa remains in the state hospital under a civil commitment, last renewed in June.

Disability Rights Oregon launched an investigation last year after reading about Spinosa’s case in The Oregonian. Bob Joondeph, the group’s executive director, said in December the organization wanted to know why a judge would skip the civil commitment process and impose an order that doesn’t exist within the law.

READ – The Incarceration of D.S. – An Investigative Report, by Disability Rights Oregon

At the end of that investigation in July, the advocacy group said in a report that Hermann, Axford and Kohl acted outside the law with the “mental illness magistrate hold.” The legislature makes law, the report said, and in Spinosa’s case, it was the attorneys and judge who “essentially created a new law that allows for a person with mental illness to be detained without the elements of due process.”

A three-person trial panel appointed by the Oregon Supreme Court will hear the bar’s case against Hermann and Axford, Walsh said.

READ – Jury finds man guilty of murdering Washington County judge’s daughter, March 26, 2009

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Protesters gather downtown to condemn Frashour reinstatement

By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, September 25, 2012

Protesters in downtown Portland Sept. 25.

About 30 community members gathered outside Portland City Hall on Tuesday to condemn a state board’s ruling that orders the city to reinstate fired police Officer Ron Frashour.

Attorney Tom Steenson, representing the family of Aaron Campbell — the unarmed man Frashour fatally shot in the back in 2010 — read a statement by Campbell’s mother, Marva Davis, who is out of town.

READStatement from Marva Davis (PDF download –  590KB)

“The community doesn’t need people like you on the police force who act and then think later,” Davis wrote in prepared comments. “You are a liability… Putting you back on the streets is a big mistake.”

Davis and her husband, John Davis, thanked Mayor Sam Adams for continuing to fight Frashour’s reinstatement.

“I thank Mayor Adams and the community for drawing the line and taking a stand for what is morally right,” Marva Davis’ statement said.

She criticized Frashour for not showing remorse to her family.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams on Monday said he’ll urge the City Council to appeal the state Employment Relations Board ruling that ordered the city to bring back Frashour within 30 days, with back pay, benefits and 9 percent interest.

In a decision released Monday, the board unanimously ruled that the city violated the Public Collective Bargaining Act by refusing to follow an arbitrator’s award in March that ordered Frashour be returned to his job.

The board did not issue the city a civil penalty, but said the city must post a public notice in the Police Bureau and other city offices that states the city in a “calculated” action violated state law.

On Jan. 29, 2010, Frashour shot Campbell in the back with an AR-15 rifle, after Campbell had been struck with multiple beanbag-shotgun rounds shortly after emerging from a Northeast Portland apartment. Frashour said he thought Campbell was reaching for a gun.

Outside City Hall Tuesday, John Davis, Campbell’s stepdad, said, “I’m not against policing at all. I’m just against unjust policing.”

Aaron Campbell’s mother, Marva Davis

Steenson called the Portland police oversight system broken — “at the top with police leadership and at the bottom, with police and the union.”

The mayor and Police Chief Mike Reese fired Frashour on Nov. 8, 2010. But on March 30, Arbitrator Jane Wilkinson ordered the city to reinstate Frashour, saying a reasonable officer could have concluded that Campbell “made motions that appeared to look like he was reaching for a gun.”

Portland police training instructors testified before the arbitrator that Frashour acted as trained – contrary to testimony from Chief Mike Reese that Frashour violated the bureau’s use of force policy and training.

Steenson said either the trainers are lying about the training, and/or the police leadership knew exactly what the training is and ignored it, “or they’re so incompetent and didn’t know what the trainers were doing.”

Steenson called on the city to remove sergeants from the same union as the rank-and-file officers they supervise. He also called for strong police leadership.

“Repeatedly what you find is a police chief unwilling to take the police union on,” Steenson said.

In April. Campbell’s family, joined by members of the Albina Ministerial Alliance, had demonstrated outside City Hall to protest the arbitrator’s ruling.

The mayor refused to follow the arbitrator’s ruling – a first involving an officer terminated for use of force. The police union filed an Unfair Labor Practices complaint on Frashour’s behalf.

Attorney Tom Steenson reads Marva Davis’ prepared statement.

The arbitrator in the Frashour case, the state board noted, concluded there was an “objectively reasonable basis” for Frashour to believe that Campbell posed an “immediate risk of serious injury or death to others.” The arbitrator found the city did not prove Frashour violated the police bureau’s use of force policies.

The Albina Minsterial Alliance, made up of 125 Portland-area churches, argued in a legal brief submitted to the board that Oregon’s Employment Relations Board needs to consider “the rights of people in communities affected by excessive police use of force.”

The alliance’s position, which mimicked the city’s argument against reinstating Frashour, said it represents “the interests of communities disproportionately impacted by police use of force in the City of Portland,” including African American communities, people with mental health disabilities and other minority groups.

The Rev. Lynne Smouse Lopez, pastor of Ainsworth United Church of Christ, vowed that the Albina Ministerial Alliance will continue to fight Frashour’s ordered return to the police force.

“He was and is a danger to the community,” Lopez said, outside City Hall Tuesday. “We will not stop!”

Adams Monday pledged to make the Frashour discipline a “test case,” frustrated by repeated arbitration rulings that have overturned the city’s discipline of police. He said he’ll urge the City Council to hold a hearing within 30 days to vote whether to challenge the board’s ruling to the Oregon Court of Appeals.

Portland Officer Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, earlier Tuesday blasted the mayor, saying his defiance of the order to reinstate Frashour reflects a “personal vendetta.”

“Mayor Adams has turned this into a personal vendetta and is using the hard-earned dollars of tax-paying Portlanders as his personal checkbook to extend this politically motivated witch hunt at the expense of the integrity of a process that protects the very core of collective bargaining,” Turner said. “He’s showing the questionable integrity that he’s had all during his tenure.”

Disturbed by Turner’s harsh remarks, Commissioner Randy Leonard on Tuesday decided to throw his support behind the mayor’s court challenge of the state board’s order on Frashour.

Leonard wrote a response to Turner’s statements: “Really, Mr Turner? How do you characterize the integrity of your members’ actions that led to a complete breakdown of all the training the Portland Police Bureau provides officers to avoid tragedies such as the indefensible killing of Aaron Campbell? And I don’t mean just the lack of integrity by the officer that pulled the trigger that killed Mr. Campbell.”

Leonard said he doesn’t expect the court challenge to be successful, however.

“No, I don’t think we have a great chance of winning…but we do have a chance,” Leonard wrote on his blog. “Consequently, I will support Mayor Adams’ request to appeal the Employment Relations Board decision to the Oregon Court of Appeals. ”

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