The variance between the rule and the right: Ronald Frashour

“Terribly Wrong”: Police Union Boss Posts Explosive Takedown of Frashour Firing

From the Portland Mercury, June 5, 2012

Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner has never made it much of a secret that he loathes the city’s decision to fire Ron Frashour, the cop who fatally shot Aaron Campbell in the back back in January 2010. But today, in a lengthy post to The Rap Sheet, the PPA’s online newsletter, Turner let loose in a way he never has before.

READ – Transparency, Integrity and Equity – Trust the Process? from The Rap Sheet, by Daryl Turner, President PPA

He writes at length about what he sees as a political witchhunt gone “terribly wrong” and aims withering vitriol at Chief Mike Reese‘s command staff—particularly Lieutenant Robert King, the Reese ally (and, incidentally, former PPA president) whose training review of the Campbell shooting served as the basis for Frashour’s dismissal.

And he closes by asking for an independent review of the bureau’s training division and senior command staff. It’s devastating stuff that’s sure to roil the police bureau, and it comes with the city and the PPA still fighting over whether to reinstate Frashour.

How could it be that the Bureau fired Officer Frashour for violating his training, and yet every one of his trainers and every officer and sergeant on the scene who witnessed the incident would testify that Officer Frashour’s conduct complied with his training? How could it be that the termination decision makes so many obvious factual mistakes? How could it be that members of the command staff would make fundamental errors concerning the layout of the crime scene, the location of officers on the scene, and Portland Police Bureau policies and training….

There is no underestimating the role of Lt. Robert King in producing the Bureau’s disastrously bad disciplinary decision. Lt. King wrote the entire portion of the Training Division review dealing with Officer Frashour’s conduct when using deadly force, and made the conclusion that Officer Frashour violated his training. Lt. King’s conclusions were solely and repeatedly relied on by [former North Precinct] Commander [Jim] Ferraris, the Use of Force Review Board, and by Chief Reese. However, when Lt. King was finally held to account for his work and assertions in Officer Frashour’s arbitration hearing, when he was finally forced to answer questions about what he had done, he gave testimony that was not only riddled with inconsistencies, factual mistakes, and contradictory explanations but he also made revelations that were shocking.

I’ve left a message for King, and I’ll update if I hear back, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Turner pounds King, who later was promoted to Reese’s top spokesman, as incompetent and dishonest. He says King privately disagreed with the decision to find Frashour out of policy and accuses King of letting Reese’s office direct the shape of the training review instead of the bureau’s trainers, who also agreed (and later testified to an arbitrator) that Frashour had done as he was taught.

Eleven trainers testified at the arbitration, either in person or by stipulation. All eleven said that Lt. King did not show them a draft of his findings and in fact had not asked for their opinion on whether Officer Frashour’s actions complied with his training. All eleven testified that they first saw Lt. King’s report long after it was finalized, and after it had been presented to Chief Reese and the Use of Force Review Board. All eleven described a tense Division-wide meeting of the Trainers and non-sworn personnel where Lt. King presented the report. It was during this meeting that Lt. King justified his conclusions by saying “the elephant in the room is the fact that we shot and killed an unarmed black man.”

Later, Turner goes on to rip into King’s bosses. He lifts the lid on their testimony in the Frashour arbitration, saying the standard for using deadly force they held as acceptable would lead to cops being killed in the real world. But then he comes back to King.

Lt. King wasn’t the only City witness whose testimony would likely shock PPA members. There was Assistant Chief O’Dea testifying that a round from a .22 cannot penetrate a sliding glass door (Assistant Chief O’Dea mistakenly thought that the three college kids observing the scene from a second-floor apartment behind the custody team were behind a sliding glass door; in fact, the door was open). There was Commander Ferraris testifying exactly as you might imagine he would, with all of the connection to real-world policing you’d imagine he would have. There was Chief Reese, testifying that when Will Aitchison and I told him the trainers disagreed with Lt. King’s conclusions, he didn’t bother speaking with any of the trainers before firing Officer Frashour because Captain Day had reported to him that the trainers were “disgruntled” employees.

There was also Chief Reese testifying on the ultimate question. For him, Mr. Campbell wouldn’t have been an immediate threat unless he reached hard cover, drew his weapon, and took “offensive action” towards officers. There was Assistant Chief O’Dea testifying that for a suspect to be an immediate threat from 40 feet away, “. . . they have got to have a weapon or something that is going to be able to hurt me from that distance away; they’re going to have to produce that weapon; they’re going to have to acquire me in one of the various positions of cover I might be in.”

All of these things were startling and were a gross deviation from the way Portland police officers are trained. In my opinion, Lt. King’s words, were the worst. Lt. King had a moral and civic obligation to conduct a full and thorough training review based on the facts; not on political pressure. He had the opportunity to stand up for basic principles of right and wrong, the basic principles of training. For whatever reason, he chose not to.

I’ve left a message for King, and I’ll update if I hear back, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Turner pounds King, who later was promoted to Reese’s top spokesman, as incompetent and dishonest. He says King privately disagreed with the decision to find Frashour out of policy and accuses King of letting Reese’s office direct the shape of the training review instead of the bureau’s trainers, who also agreed (and later testified to an arbitrator) that Frashour had done as he was taught.

Eleven trainers testified at the arbitration, either in person or by stipulation. All eleven said that Lt. King did not show them a draft of his findings and in fact had not asked for their opinion on whether Officer Frashour’s actions complied with his training. All eleven testified that they first saw Lt. King’s report long after it was finalized, and after it had been presented to Chief Reese and the Use of Force Review Board. All eleven described a tense Division-wide meeting of the Trainers and non-sworn personnel where Lt. King presented the report. It was during this meeting that Lt. King justified his conclusions by saying “the elephant in the room is the fact that we shot and killed an unarmed black man.”

Later, Turner goes on to rip into King’s bosses. He lifts the lid on their testimony in the Frashour arbitration, saying the standard for using deadly force they held as acceptable would lead to cops being killed in the real world. But then he comes back to King.

Lt. King wasn’t the only City witness whose testimony would likely shock PPA members. There was Assistant Chief [Larry] O’Dea testifying that a round from a .22 cannot penetrate a sliding glass door (Assistant Chief O’Dea mistakenly thought that the three college kids observing the scene from a second-floor apartment behind the custody team were behind a sliding glass door; in fact, the door was open). There was Commander Ferraris testifying exactly as you might imagine he would, with all of the connection to real-world policing you’d imagine he would have. There was Chief Reese, testifying that when Will Aitchison and I told him the trainers disagreed with Lt. King’s conclusions, he didn’t bother speaking with any of the trainers before firing Officer Frashour because Captain Day had reported to him that the trainers were “disgruntled” employees.

There was also Chief Reese testifying on the ultimate question. For him, Mr. Campbell wouldn’t have been an immediate threat unless he reached hard cover, drew his weapon, and took “offensive action” towards officers. There was Assistant Chief O’Dea testifying that for a suspect to be an immediate threat from 40 feet away, “. . . they have got to have a weapon or something that is going to be able to hurt me from that distance away; they’re going to have to produce that weapon; they’re going to have to acquire me in one of the various positions of cover I might be in.”

All of these things were startling and were a gross deviation from the way Portland police officers are trained. In my opinion, Lt. King’s words, were the worst. Lt. King had a moral and civic obligation to conduct a full and thorough training review based on the facts; not on political pressure. He had the opportunity to stand up for basic principles of right and wrong, the basic principles of training. For whatever reason, he chose not to.

Read The Portland Police Union President’s Blistering Attack On Bureau Leaders – Aaron Campbell case at issue

From the Willamette Week, June 6, 2012

Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner has published a long, detailed and yet still raw-feeling screed directed at the leadership of the Portland Police Bureau, including Chief Mike Reese, Lt. Robert King and Mayor Sam Adams.

Turner’s beef? Adams’ decision to ignore an arbitrator’s ruling and fire Officer Ron Frashour, who two years ago shot an unarmed man, Aaron Campbell (pictured). The union leader also alleges duplicitous conduct by bureau leaders.

WW has asked King, who is also the bureau’s top spokesman, for a response, and we’ll update this post when we get one.

Turner’s letter appears in the PPA newsletter, The Rap Sheet:

“Officer Frashour and his family have been betrayed and vilified by the Bureau command staff and Mayor Adams. Seemingly, their interests were not transparency, truth, or integrity of the process but rather political motivation and self-interest. The rank and file of the Portland Police Bureau have lost faith in their leaders’ ability to honor the process that is supposed to ensure transparency, integrity, and equity.

Five times independent bodies have ruled on Officer Frashour’s use of deadly force. Each time they have concluded that Officer Frashour did nothing wrong.”

If this seems a little tone-deaf to community concerns over the Campbell shooting, consider that Turner goes on to equate the loss felt by Campbell’s family following his death to that of Frashour, whom Turner says has been “betrayed and vilified” by bureau leaders and Mayor Adams.

“Now two families are devastated,” Turner writes.

Much of Turner’s ire falls on King specifically.

“There is no underestimating the role of Lt. Robert King in producing the Bureau’s disastrously bad disciplinary decision. Lt. King wrote the entire portion of the Training Division review dealing with Officer Frashour’s conduct when using deadly force, and made the conclusion that Officer Frashour violated his training.

By way of speculation, Turner tosses out a few rumors about the case, too:

“I’ve heard a lot of the offered theories. Many start with the belief that Mayor Adams … made it clear to Chief Reese, possibly before his appointment as Chief, that Officer Frashour would have to be fired.”


Portland police union calls for inquiry into testimony of Lt. Robert King, others in Ron Frashour firing

From The Oregonian, June 6, 2012

In sworn testimony before a state arbitrator, Portland police Lt. Robert King characterized the training division’s analysis of Officer Ronald Frashour’s fatal shooting of Aaron Campbell as a “coordinated effort among bureau training instructors.”

King, who oversaw the division’s review of the shooting and now serves as Portland police spokesman, told the arbitrator that he discussed the shooting “extensively” with seven bureau instructors and showed them a draft of his review. The review, King testified, concluded that Frashour did not act according to his training.

But King broke down in tears under cross-examination after union attorney Will Aitchison entered into evidence five drafts between May 12 and June 20, 2010, in which King found that Frashour had acted appropriately, before he suddenly concluded the opposite in his final June 21, 2010, review.

When grilled by the union attorney, King’s sworn testimony also changed and he acknowledged that he did not ask any trainers to review the full investigative files of the shooting and included none of their opinions in his final review, according to a transcript of King’s testimony obtained by The Oregonian.

Police union leaders said the unusual turn of events suggests that Frashour’s firing was politically motivated and have asked for an independent investigation of King’s testimony and that of other city witnesses. They point to the fact that the review was done by a new lieutenant who veered from past practice by shutting out the opinions of lead police trainers, and that the findings changed after the May 12, 2010 appointment of Chief Mike Reese.

Further, the arbitration testimony revealed that the Police Bureau has no policy or procedure for how its training reviews of police actions are to be done.

“As these drafts are being written, and as Lieutenant King changes his mind, the police chief is fired, we get a new police chief, appointed by a mayor who has already passed judgment on Officer Frashour,” Aitchison argued before the arbitrator. “The timing of this, I think, is significant.”

Mayor Sam Adams, who serves as police commissioner, called the union’s criticism of King “reprehensible and wrong,” likened it to “character assassination” and said it should be disregarded. “Enough is enough: (the) police union should stop bullying those who disagree with them,” Adams said. [see below]

Reese defended King [see below], who would not comment for this story, as “well-qualified” to conduct the training review.

“To be clear, there was never an agreement between Mayor Adams and me prior to my appointment as chief of police regarding the outcome of this matter,” he wrote. “To say otherwise is ludicrous and insulting.”

Aitchision asked why King, a new lieutenant at the time who hadn’t been a training instructor for at least 14 years, would ignore the opinions of the bureau’s training experts.

His answer: He doubted the training officers would rule against a fellow cop.

“One of the problems that we have in this situation is the trainers historically have not wanted to — I don’t think that they’ve wanted to write reviews that conclude that officers are out of training, for different reasons,” King testified. “It can have harmful effects in, say, a disciplinary proceeding like this one.”

Six of the seven police instructors from whom King said he had sought input contradicted his testimony, saying that no such conversations took place. Each testified that the first time they saw King’s training review was in September 2010, months after the final version was presented to a Use of Force Review Board, a panel of police and citizens who recommend discipline.

When King finally did share the final review, the lead training instructors objected in a tense meeting.

King, one trainer testified, responded by saying the bureau couldn’t ignore the political backdrop, and told them: “the elephant in the room is the fact that we shot and killed an unarmed black man.”

“I was disappointed because I think at that moment me and every other lead instructor, as I found out later, felt that that analysis was not immune to the political pressures of this case,” the defensive tactics instructor testified.

The testimony echoed concerns raised by Campbell’s family attorney, Tom Steenson, about the need for the chief to address an obvious “disconnect” between command staff and police trainers on bureau training and policy.

Said Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner: “Lt. King had a moral and civil obligation to conduct a full and thorough training review based on the facts; not on political pressure.”

Under questioning from the union lawyer, King said he regretted not including the trainers’ opinions, and during his cross-examination sought to explain how his decision-making evolved.

He testified that as a former union president and as an officer who’d had two fatal shootings scrutinized by the bureau, he was reluctant to rule against Frashour. He even considered a demotion to avoid doing so.

“This report, going through this process, was the single-most difficult thing that I’ve done in my police career,” he testified, through tears. “I was a probationary lieutenant at the time, and I contemplated demoting. I thought that I should revert to being a sergeant because I didn’t want to take a position against an officer that would be harmful to him and his career, that could result in his termination. I’d been with officers throughout the course of my career who have made those difficult decisions, and I’ve been with them and didn’t want to see them harmed.”

Up until a point, King testified, he was reluctant to be critical of Frashour’s actions.

“He’s saying all these sorts of things that I would expect to hear him and other officers in a situation like this to say. But it’s incumbent upon us as a police bureau to look very carefully and very thoughtfully, without regard to what anyone else will think or feel … at what they did and why they did it, and, if necessary, arrive at conclusions that are not what trainers or other officers or the officer himself or the union would like.”

King denied that he had been swayed by anyone in the chief’s office to find that Frashour had not complied with training. However the union submitted an email that King received from a sergeant in the chief’s office June 23, 2010, with an edited version of King’s training review attached. The subject line said, “Changes I’ve made.”

While King had no extensive talks with the bureau’s training instructors, now-retired Officer Mike Stradley testified that King called him to discuss the shooting in depth, and at that time, they agreed that Frashour had acted as trained.

Just before Reese sent Frashour his final termination letter, Turner, the union president, and Aitchison, the union attorney, met with the chief. At that point, the union wasn’t aware of the multiple training draft reviews, but did alert the chief that the bureau’s lead instructors had disagreed with King’s findings and found that Frashour had followed his training.

When called to testify before the arbitrator, Reese was asked whether he had spoken to any of the trainers to verify that. The chief said no, but he did ask then-training Capt. Bob Day — who was at the scene of the Campbell shooting — about it. Day dismissed the union concern, telling the chief the trainers were “disgruntled,” Reese testified.


Daryl Turner, President, PPA
1313 NW 19th Portland, OR 97209

READ – PPB Chief Mike Reese’s letter to PPA President Daryl Turner, June 6, 2012 – PDF

PPA President Turner:

I read your article in the recent Rap Sheet and was surprised at the mischaracterization of facts in the article surrounding the investigation into the tragic death of Aaron Campbell. As a result, I must respond.

As you know, in an effort to keep this matter transparent and open, the Police Bureau placed on its website various documents for the public, including: the Detective’s Division investigation, the Grand Jury transcripts, the Professional Standards Division investigation, the Training Division analysis, the Police Review Board finding, and the letters of discipline. This was done so that the folks in the Bureau and the community could read the various findings and come to their own conclusions without having the information filtered by management or labor. Your comments about the way the training analysis was conducted were out of context and did not actually address its conclusions in a substantive manner.

The personal attacks in the article regarding the integrity and competence of Lt. Robert King are
particularly unfortunate and without merit. Robert’s long tenure as a respected PPA president
representing members in officer-involved shootings, his past experience as an instructor in the
Training Division, and his own personal perspective as an officer involved in deadly force
incidents, helped guide his training analysis. He was well-qualified to conduct this analysis,
which was a thorough review of the training doctrine and the officers’ actions. The statement
that his analysis was based on political pressure is also speculative, untrue and without merit.

It is also regrettable you resort to speculation and guesswork to bolster your case. To be clear, there was never an agreement between Mayor Adams and me prior to my appointment as Chief of Police regarding the outcome of this matter. To say otherwise is ludicrous and insulting. The personnel decisions I made in this case were incredibly difficult and it took months of careful review of the information contained in the various investigations before I arrived at proposed findings.

Finally, you call for an independent investigation into the Portland Police Bureau and the Training Division Review of this incident. Therefore, I urge you to read the OIR report that was just completed at the direction of the City Auditor. They analyzed officer-involved shootings from 2004-2011, including the death of Aaron Campbell. OIR stated that the analysis of the Campbell shooting was thoughtful, rigorous and better than prior reviews.

It’s unfortunate that the relationship between management of the Police Bureau and the leadership of the PPA has deteriorated. When I became Chief of Police, I committed to improving that relationship and invited the PPA, PPCOA and DCTU to attend our weekly executive team meetings and monthly General Staff meetings so as to include labor in the decision making processes. Your article in the Rap Sheet further erodes that relationship and makes it difficult to have a positive dialogue on the many public safety initiatives underway.

My understanding was that the PPA and the City agreed not to release of the arbitration as other related matters are pending. Moreover, the ERB case regarding Ron Frashour’s case is still pending, and any public discussion about the arbitration should be restricted for obvious reasons.

I understand we disagree about this matter, but we can continue to disagree without resorting to unfounded speculation and name-calling. It is disheartening to see you publicly discuss this case in a way that is counterproductive to moving forward and which does nothing to help support officers in the extraordinary job we ask of them each day.

MICHAEL REESE – Chief of Police


Enough is Enough: Stop Police Union Bullying of Those Who Disagree With Them

Dear Portlander,

The Portland Police union’s personal attack on Portland Police Lt. Robert King is reprehensible and wrong. The union’s latest attempt at character assassination is part of a pattern of behavior that must stop.

Too often, instead of discussing the facts of a matter, the union tries to discredit or bully those who disagree with them. In this case, it appears the Portland Police union is also trying to sway the members of the Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB).

Enough is enough. The Portland Police union’s rant should be disregarded as the City seeks to have the Oregon ERB carefully consider and overturn the Arbitrator’s decision to reinstate Ron Frashour.

For more information: “‘Terribly Wrong’: Police Union Boss Posts Explosive Takedown of Frashour Firing.”

Sincerely,
[Sam Adams] Portland Mayor


READ – “Reprehensible and Wrong”: Mayor Answers Vitriolic Article on Frashour Firing, Mercury, June 6, 2012