John Elifritz was shot and killed by Portland Police officer Richard Bailey, officer Justin Damerville, officer Kameron Fender, officer Alexandru Martiniuc, officer Bradley Nutting, officer Chad Phifer, officer Andrew Polas, and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron Sieczkowski on April 7, 2018. Elifritz was in an addiction and mental health crisis. He is the first person killed by Portland Police in 2018, the 13th since the signing of the Settlement Agreement to US DOJ v City of Portland. The Multnomah County District Attorney declined to press charges on May 9, 2018 after a Grand Jury hearing.
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Grand Jury Transcripts
663-page transcript in John Elifritz case released
KOIN.com – June 11, 2013
In two-to-three seconds, inside the Cityteam Ministries in Southeast Portland, five Portland Police officers and one Multnomah County deputy made the decision to shoot a combined 17 bullets at John Elifritz. Nine hit Elifritz, killing him — hours after his interaction with police began on April 7.
On Monday, weeks after the Portland Police Bureau released detailed internal documents and videos related to the shooting at the Southeast Portland shelter, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office released a 663-page grand jury transcript on the case. The transcript, encompassing four days, gave a look inside the testimony that led a grand jury to decide police were justified in their use of lethal force.
Multnomah County DA Releases Grand Jury Transcripts In Elifritz Case
OPB.com, June 11, 2018
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office released grand jury transcripts Monday in the case of John Elifritz, a man killed by police at a homeless shelter in Southeast Portland in April.
The transcripts provide a window into the thoughts of witnesses and police officers in the moments leading up to Elifritz’s death. They also provide an understanding a what officers knew at the time they responded.
“There’s talk about him with a knife, talk about him attempting to stab people,” Portland Police Bureau Detective Erik Kammerer testified to the grand jury. “And this is the information the officers have when they approach this situation.”
The transcripts also give at least three previously unknown insights:
Police officers describe ‘pandemonium’ during fatal homeless shelter shooting
Oregonian – June 11, 2018
All the deputy could think of was last year’s MAX train attack when two men died and a third was critically stabbed by a raging passenger.
“And I’m like, oh, Jesus, Jesus,” Sieczkowski told a grand jury last month. “And it’s happening so fast. It’s like I’m — I — I tell you, I have dreams and stuff like that. I feel like my legs are like Jell-O at this point.”
Sieczkowski said John A. Elifritz soon let the bystander go on April 7 but ended up charging at more than half-dozen officers in the room. He left them no choice but to shoot, the deputy said. Elifritz died almost instantly.
A medical examiner said Elifritz, 48, was “tweaking” on methamphetamine. He was shot nine times.
The deputy’s testimony was part of more than 650 pages of grand jury transcripts released Monday by the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office in the fatal police shooting of Elifritz.
Was Elifritz shooting sound – or suspect?
Portland Tribune – June 5, 2018
Jeffrey Noble, former deputy chief in Irvine, California, and a police accountability expert, is that rare breed of cop who believes that police should be criminally prosecuted in fatal shootings more often than they actually are.
But when it comes to the April 7 shooting of John Andrew Elifritz, Noble said there’s no question in his mind that the officers involved handled it in a legally and tactically sound manner.
While Noble has often said when a shooting doesn’t look right, “In this case,” he said of the police decision-making with Elifritz, “everything I’m looking at looks right.”
No charges for officers who shot, killed suspect at homeless shelter
KGW.com – May 9, 2018
Videos of the shooting quickly spread on social media and were met with varied reactions throughout the community.
Morgan Pickering, who took video of the shooting, and two other unidentified witnesses told The Oregonian the suspect came into the facility and was slashing and stabbing himself with a knife. Pickering said officers first fired rubber bullets or bean bags at the suspect, but that didn’t stop him. They said he lunged at officers with the knife in his hand and that’s when officers opened fire.
Pickering said he believed the officers’ actions were “absolutely 100 percent justified.”
“Cops did everything right,” he said. “I applaud their actions. They actually saved lives.”
On the other hand, the ACLU of Oregon said videos, like Pickering’s, raised serious questions about the use of deadly force.
“Bystander video of the fatal shooting of a man in a homeless shelter in Portland last night raises serious questions about how police handled the situation and whether lethal force was called for. Trained police officers should use the least amount of force necessary,” the group said in a statement following the shooting.
Five Portland police officers and one Multnomah County sheriff’s deputy were involved in the shooting:
Officer Kameron Fender, an eight-year-veteran of the PPB;
Officer Alexandru Martiniuc, a six-year-veteran of the PPB;
Officer Bradley Nutting, an 11-year-veteran of the PPB;
Officer Chad Phifer, a 10-year-veteran of the PPB;
Officer Andrew Polas, a 14-year-veteran of the PPB;
Deputy Aaron Sieczkowski, a six-year-veteran of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
Family of man fatally shot by police in Portland homeless shelter files federal lawsuit
Oregonian – May 23, 2018
The family of John A. Elifritz, who was shot and killed by police inside a Southeast Portland homeless shelter last month, late Tuesday filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Portland, the Portland officers and a Multnomah County sheriff’s deputy who were involved.
The suit alleges police stormed into the shelter with AR-15 rifles and a police dog and used excessive force against Elifritz, who his family says was experiencing a mental health crisis and posed no threat to the officers.
Elifritz, a suspect in a carjacking, had burst into the CityTeam Ministries shelter on Southeast Grand Avenue, armed with a knife on April 7.
Civil Complaint – Unreasonable Use of Deadly Force; Battery; Wrongful Death – Barbara Elifritz v. City of Portland, filed May 22, 2018 (PDF)
Elifritz’s Criminal History Raises Questions About What Officers Knew
From OPB.org May 23, 2018
Before John Elifrtiz was shot and killed by police at a Portland homeless shelter last month, he was a known criminal with an extensive history, dating back to 1988.
Over the years, Elifritz repeatedly led police on high speed and sometimes lengthy chases. He routinely violated his parole. In prison, he was known as a member of the European Kindred, a white supremacy group.
A review of nearly 600 pages from Elifritz’s Oregon Department of Corrections file also highlights one important question that remains unanswered: What did Portland Police know about his criminal history on the day they shot and killed him, and did that history factor into the way officers responded?
Grand jury finds no criminal wrongdoing in fatal police shooting of man inside Portland shelter
Oregonian – May 9, 2018
A Multnomah County grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing by the officers who shot and killed a man with a knife inside a Southeast Portland homeless shelter last month, the District Attorney’s Office announced late Wednesday.
John A. Elifritz, 48, died April 7 from gunshot wounds at the Cityteam Ministries shelter on Grand Avenue.
Seven Portland police officers and one county sheriff’s deputy were involved in the shooting that night, police said. The officers acted in self-defense, Portland police said.
The grand jury met over four days. The prosecutor’s office now will ask a judge to release the transcript of the proceeding. Police expect their investigative records to be available the week of May 25.
Ted Wheeler Describes Conflict Between Mayor, Police Commissioner Roles – KUOW.org, April 13, 2018
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, the sole possessor of bureau assignment powers on City Council, said Portland doesn’t have a governance system where the mayor is in a position to hold a police commissioner accountable.
Wheeler, who is mayor and the Portland Police Bureau commissioner, said there are conflicts between his two jobs.
“With the officer involved shooting, people are out in front of my office with signs saying, ‘Why aren’t you speaking out on this? Why aren’t you telling us more?,'” Wheeler said, speaking at the second of two state of the city addresses Friday.
“And the answer is: I’m the police commissioner and I have an obligation to the integrity of those investigations as well as setting the vision for the city, so sometimes there is that conflict.”
Elifritz Family Hires National Civil Rights Attorney to Investigate Portland Police Shooting – Mercury, April 12, 2018
A Chicago-based civil rights attorney known for representing victims of police brutality has begun an investigation into the death of John Elifritz, the 48-year-old man fatally shot by Portland officers Saturday.
“We believe the narrative the police are putting out there is not consistent with what we think the truth is,” Attorney Andrew M. Stroth, who is representing the Elifritz family, told the Mercury. “Our view is that they used excessive and lethal force based on what’s clearly a mental health issue. What police did to John was unconstitutional.”
Wheeler wants to wait for all the facts on deadly police shooting – KATU.com, April 12, 2018
Mayor Ted Wheeler is asking for patience as two investigations are launched into last weekend’s police shooting.
Wheeler says he’s worried people don’t have all the facts at this point.
The mayor says he wants to wait for all the facts before he comes to any conclusions.
Police shooting at shelter draws deep concerns from reform advocates – Oregonian, April 12, 2018
A social justice watchdog group on Thursday questioned the effectiveness of a federal settlement to reduce excessive force by Portland police against people with mental illness in the wake of Saturday night’s fatal police shooting of a man with a knife inside a homeless shelter.
Based on a video taken by a witness and released the morning after the shooting, the coalition of area ministers and advocates for police reform said its members were deeply concerned that officers didn’t appear to try to de-escalate the encounter.
“It was not clear whether the officers had a tactical plan or whether a sergeant or other on-scene supervisor authorized the use of deadly force,” the Albina Ministerial Alliance’s Coalition for Justice and Police Reform said in a statement.
The group also noted that the shelter is run by a ministry, “which should be a sacred space.”
“Although all the facts of this deadly force shooting are not in and the investigation is not complete, this case could possibly be a major step backward for the Portland Police Bureau” in its effort to change the way officers deal with people in mental health crisis, the coalition said.
Portlanders protest police in wake of officer-involved shooting – KPTV.com, April 12, 2018
Several dozen people gathered in front of Portland City Hall Wednesday afternoon to support the homeless and rally against police brutality.
It comes in the wake of a police shooting – officers shot and killed 48-year-old John Elifritz Saturday night in a homeless shelter in southeast Portland.
“I’m horrified by the shooting and police brutality,” said protester April Burris.
Attendees said they are particularly troubled by a video showing the final moments of Elifritz’s life.
Rally for homeless held at City Hall after man shot by officer at shelter – KATU.com, April 12, 2018
A rally organized by activist group Portland’s Resistance took place outside Portland City Hall Wednesday afternoon.
Event organizers say the rally is in response to an officer-involved shooting Saturday night, in which a man was shot an killed by police in a homeless shelter.
Portland Police Shoot and Kill Man at Homeless Shelter – The Skanner, April 12, 2018
Several of the officers involved have use-of-force incidents in their past: Polas was involved in the 2010 shooting of Keaton Otis, a 25-year-old Black man who was shot 23 times after being stopped for unsignaled lane changes and shooting an officer in the groin. Phifer was cited in the Department of Justice’s investigation of Portland police as an example of PPB’s use of excessive force against people with mental illness, after an incident where he fired a Taser repeatedly and punched a man with mental illness multiple times. In 2014 Nutting used a stun gun in 2014 against Portland bicyclist Matthew Klug.
In the hours leading up to his death Elifritz suffered an apparent mental health crisis, and a video of the shooting shows him more than 20 feet away from the officers in the building. He entered CityTeam Ministries homeless shelter as an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting was about to start; friends of Elifritz’s say he had graduated six months before from an addiction recovery program at Central City Concern. Police and witness accounts say Elifritz held a knife to his own throat during an earlier police encounter in Southeast Portland after calling 911, and later crashed a stolen car near the shelter.
Demonstrators rally at Portland City Hall in response to homeless shelter shooting (29 photos) – Oregonian, April 11, 2018
Protesters Demand Answers in the Shooting Death of John Elifritz – Mercury, April 11, 2018
Around 75 people met in front of City Hall this afternoon to protest the death of John Elifritz, a 48-year-old man who was reportedly in the midst of a mental health crisis when a group of Portland officers shot him to death Saturday, April 7. Elifritz died inside the Cityteam Ministries homeless shelter after he allegedly swung a knife at a police dog, but we’re still waiting for an official investigation report from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) of what caused officers to open fire.
“There is no reasonable explanation how a dozen well-trained professional police officers, who have all been trained in mental health intervention, would have made the decision that they made on Saturday,” said Portland City Council candidate JoAnn Hardesty, addressing the crowd. Many in the group held handmade signs with messages like “Police the Police” and “Disarm Cops.”
Elifritz, police began crossing paths in 1991 – KOIN.com, April 10, 2018
The man who was shot to death inside the Portland City Team Ministries Shelter in Southeast Portland on Saturday had a lengthy criminal record — beginning nearly 3 decades ago.
Forty-eight-year-old John Elifritz was first arrested, according to court documents, in 1991, but the most notable arrest — the one that sent him to prison for a year — occurred several years later.
Unique look inside job of Portland officers who were involved in deadly shooting – KPTV.com, April 11, 2018
Two of the officers involved in the shooting that killed a 48-year-old man in southeast Portland were interviewed the night before by FOX 12 Investigators working on an unrelated story.
Officers Kameron Fender and Andy Polas are experienced members of the Portland Police Bureau’s Gang Enforcement Team. Polas has been an officer for 14 years, and Fender has 12 years of experience.
‘Beds not bullets’ rally against PPB, Wheeler planned – KOIN.com, April 11, 2018
A rally against Portland Police, as well as a resource drive for the homeless, will take place in front of Portland City Hall on Wednesday afternoon, four days after John Elifritz, a suspect in a carjacking on Saturday, was killed at a shelter in Southeast Portland.
The “Beds Not Bullets” rally, organized by PDX Resistance, has been planned since Sunday. It”ll began at 4 p.m.
“We are encouraging people to attend the rally to hear about our brutal police department, the police union contract and how we plan to change it in the upcoming negotiations, Ted Wheeler’s proposed plan to further oppress marginalized groups, and to support our houseless community members,” the Facebook event page said.
Man killed by police at homeless shelter was once part of white supremacist group – KATU.com, April 10, 2018
John Elifritz was featured in a 2007 Portland Monthly article as a member of European Kindred, a white supremacist gang formed in Oregon prisons in the 1990s.
Officers in deadly SE Portland shooting identified; subsequent threats deemed not credible – KPTV.com, April 10, 2018
The Portland Police Bureau delayed the release of those names to assess threats made regarding their safety. Investigators ultimately could not locate any credible information in connection with those threats.
The Portland Police Bureau and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office “take threats to officer safety very seriously and would ask the public to share any threat information with law enforcement,” according to a statement.
Portland Police Release the Names of Officers Who Fired on Man in Southeast Homeless Shelter – Willamette Week, April 10, 2018
The officers and a sheriff’s deputy opened fire on a man apparently in the midst of a mental health crisis, after he refused to drop a knife.
Police: Suspect’s behavior escalated before fatal shooting – Portland Tribune, April 10, 2018
The release of the names was delayed while police investigated a threat against the officers and deputy. No viable threat was found.
The Oregon State Medical Examiner confirmed that Elifritz, 48, died of gunshot wounds. Toxicology results are pending.
Police say the bureau is continuing to investigate the in the Cityteam Ministries Portland Shelter, located at 526 Southeast Grand Avenue.
There were also 12 officer witnesses, all of whom have been interviewed by investigators. There were also numerous community members who have been interviewed.
Questions Remain After Deadly Shooting By Portland Police In Homeless Shelter – OPB.org, April 10, 2018
John Elifritz called 911 Saturday afternoon to report that his family was murdered. When Portland, Ore., police officers responded, Elifritz showed suicidal tendencies — holding a knife to his own throat — and eventually fleeing from the officers.
Hours later, Elifritz was dead, shot by police at the Cityteam Ministries Shelter.
Officers Involved in Elifritz Shooting Have History of Using “Excessive Force” Against Mentally Ill – Portland Mercury, April 10, 2018
Portland police have released the names of the seven police officers and one Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputy involved in fatally shooting John Elifritz at a Southeast homeless shelter. Based on video of the Saturday, April 7 incident and witness testimony, it appears Elifritz was in the midst of a mental crisis when he was shot. PPB have yet to verify this claim. PPB initially refused to release the names, after claiming to have received threats on the officers’ lives.
Retired officer, mental health advocate offer opposing views of Portland police shooting – KGW.com, April 9, 2018
KGW took video from the Saturday night shooting and showed it to retired Portland Police Captain Scott Winegar and mental health advocate Jason Renaud.
‘So frustrated, so angry, so hurt, so mad’; family of man killed by police speak out – KATU.com, April 9, 2018
Family members of the man shot and killed by Portland police Saturday say officers used poor judgment when they shot and killed John Elifritz.
Barbara Pierce, Elifritz’s cousin, said officers “took the totally wrong approach” when they encountered Elifritz inside a Cityteam Ministries. She said family members are having a hard time with what happened.
Questions over deadly police shooting at Oregon homeless shelter – CBS News, April 9, 2018
Groups and family members are raising questions about whether officers resorted to deadly force too quickly when they shot and killed a man inside a Portland, Oregon, homeless shelter who was wanted for a carjacking. Bystander video posted on social media shows officers firing rounds not long after entering the shelter with guns drawn Saturday.
Witnesses said the suspect had a knife. The man appears to have his arms at his sides as almost a dozen officers stand with guns and rifles drawn. The video shows him across the room from officers before he appears to move closer to them, though it’s not clear why and a barrier partially obscures the view. They open fire, and the man falls to the floor.
Witness: Police shot bean bags before killing man at shelter – AP Wire, April 9, 2018
David Abbs was sitting in his wheelchair inside a Portland, Oregon, homeless shelter when a shirtless man burst in, grabbed a jacket from a donation bin and dashed outside.
The man ran back in and tried to cut himself with a knife on the neck and wrist before officers fired bean bag rounds at him, Abbs recalled Monday. Moments later, police shot John Elifritz dead near the shelter’s kitchen as stunned witnesses looked on.
Portland police, hours before killing suspect, encountered him with knife to throat – Oregonian, April 9, 2018
Hours before shooting a carjacking suspect Saturday night, Portland police officers responded to an earlier incident involving the same man, who appeared to be suicidal and holding a knife to this throat, but they decided to not engage with him and left the scene, according to police dispatch recordings.
Citing Threats, the Portland Police Bureau Isn’t Releasing the Names of Officers who Killed a Man in a Homeless Shelter – Willamette Week, April 9, 2018
Police say they encountered John Elifritz hours before he was shot, but did not pursue him at the time.
Investigation Continues Into Officer-Involved Shooting – Portland Police Bureau press release, April 9, 2018
Includes immediate timeline.
Police hold names of officers involved in deadly shooting, release timeline of events – KATU.com, April 9, 2018
Citing policy, the Portland Police Bureau said Monday that it is not immediately releasing the names of the officers involved in Saturday’s deadly shooting at a homeless shelter because threats are being made to their safety.
The bureau also confirmed that the man officers shot at the Cityteam Ministries on Southeast Grand Avenue was 48-year-old John Andrew Elifritz.
ACLU of Oregon statement on the shooting death of John Elifritz – April 9, 2018
Vigil attendees upset over deadly police shooting, ACLU raises questions – KATU.com, April 9, 2018
Victoria Nevarez says she grew up with Elifritz in Portland. She and some other friends left a memorial for him outside Cityteam Ministries Portland Shelter, where he was shot and killed.
“Us as the community love him. He was an upstanding individual with a family, daughter, grandchildren,” said Nevarez. “John-John would give you the shirt off his back. He would’ve done anything in the world for anybody.”
Portland police got 911 calls before man was killed at homeless shelter – Salem Statesman Journal / AP Wire, April 9, 2018
David Abbs was sitting in his wheelchair inside a Portland homeless shelter when a shirtless man burst in, grabbed a jacket from a donation bin and dashed outside.
The man ran back in and tried to cut himself with a knife before officers fired bean bag rounds at him, Abbs recalled Monday. Moments later, police shot John Elifritz dead as stunned witnesses looked on.
Timeline: Carjacking suspect shot, killed by Portland police officers – KGW.com, April 9, 2018
A carjacking suspect was shot and killed by Portland Police Bureau officers inside a homeless shelter in southeast Portland on Saturday night.
David Elifritz identifies brother as man shot by Portland police, has many questions – Oregonian, April 8, 2018
David Elifritz was selling antique car parts Sunday at the Portland Expo Center when he got a call from a friend, alerting him that his younger brother was caught on video Saturday night getting shot by Portland police officers.
Elifritz was sent the link to the video and watched it for himself.
“I was shook up,” the elder Elifritz said, confirming Sunday afternoon to The Oregonian/OregonLive that the man in the video fatally shot by Portland police was his younger brother, John Andrew Elifritz, 48.
New Details of Shooting Raise More Questions About Police Decisions in a Portland Homeless Shelter – Willamette Week, April 8, 2018
John Andrew Elifritz, a 48-year-old shipyard worker, was fatally shot by Portland police Saturday. Social media posts indicate he had been suffering from a mental health crisis.
Portland police ID man killed in officer-involved shooting; timeline of events released – KPTV.com, April 8, 2018
Police have identified the suspect who was killed in an officer-involved shooting and investigators released a timeline of events that preceded the deadly shooting.
The Portland Police Bureau reported Monday that seven officers and one Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office deputy were involved in the shooting Saturday that killed 48-year-old John Andrew Elifritz. Another 12 officers were witnesses to the shooting.
The Oregon State Medical Examiner concluded Elifritz died of gunshot wounds. Toxicology results are pending.
PPB timeline, witnesses paint picture of shelter shooting – KOIN.com, April 8, 2018
Police, as well as witnesses, are providing more information to what led up to an officer-involved shooting in Southeast Portland on Saturday that left one man dead.
At 8 p.m. on Saturday, at Portland City Team Ministries Shelter, officers shot and killed 48-year-old John Elifritz.
Suspect dead in officer-involved shooting in SE Portland – KOIN.com, April 8, 2018
A man who is suspected of crashing a stolen car is dead after police found him and opened fire in SE Portland Saturday night, according to Portland Police.
Portland police said it all started with a carjacking on the east side earlier in the day. A silver Honda CRV was taken by force and turned up when the suspect crashed near SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and SE Stark.
Police identify officers, deputy involved in shooting of carjacking suspect – KGW.com, April 7, 2018
Portland police said the suspect was 48-year-old John Andrew Elifritz
Wife of man killed by police says he was likely having mental breakdown – KATU.com, April 9, 2018
The wife of a man shot and killed by police over the weekend wants answers. Officers say he was a threat to himself and others, but she says they had other options.
Police and family confirm the man officers shot at the Cityteam Ministries on Southeast Grand Avenue was 48-year-old John Andrew Elifritz.
Inside the shelter – April 8, 2018
KOIN – April 9, 2018
KOIN – April 9, 2018
KOIN – April 9, 2018
KATU – April 10, 2018
CITY HALL RALLY – April 11, 2018