On Friday, March 30th, State Arbitrator Jane R. Wilkinson ruled that Officer Ron Frashour should be reinstated, with back pay, after he was fired for shooting Aaron Campbell in the back, despite the fact that Mr. Campbell was unarmed.
The Links below will take you to the appropriate sections of this posting, including local media coverage of this sad event.
Portland Police Association: Portland Police Association Press Release – Arbitrator Rules in Favor of Officer Ron Frashour
A state arbitrator has ruled in Portland police union’s favor, saying fired Portland Officer Ronald Frashour should get his job back.
The union’s challenge of Frashour’s November 2010 termination largely rested on the testimony of bureau training instructors who say Frashour followed his training when he used deadly force against Aaron Campbell on Jan. 29, 2010. The trainers were set to testify in federal court as well that they were never consulted before Chief Mike Reese and Mayor Sam Adams let Frashour go.
Frashour was fired for fatally shooting Campbell, an unarmed 25-year-old African American man, in the back with an AR-15 rifle.
Campbell, distraught and suicidal over his brother’s death that day, emerged from a Northeast Portland apartment, with his back toward officers and his hands behind his head. Officer Ryan Lewton, who said he was trying to get Campbell to put his hands in the air, fired six bean bag rounds at him. Campbell turned and ran toward a parked car. Frashour fired a single shot at Campbell from the rifle, killing him.
Reese found it unreasonable for Frashour to believe that Campbell posed an “immediate threat” of death or serious injury. He found Frashour seemed to only focus on his AR-15 rifle without noticing what was going on around him, and refused to acknowledge that the six beanbag rounds that struck Campbell before the fatal shot could have caused a pain reaction, such as running away.
But the arbitrator found the city didn’t prove “just cause” to terminate Frashour, and that a reasonable officer could have concluded that Campbell was armed, and that when he ran, “there was sufficient evidence for a finding that Mr. Campbell made motions that appeared to look like he was reaching for a gun.”
“This was a very tragic case, one where the Monday-morning quarterback has the clear advantage when divining what went wrong,” wrote arbitrator Jane Wilkinson, a Lake Oswego attorney, in her 78-page ruling.
But she said she rested her decision on constitutional law and Portland police directives.
“Although it turned out that Mr. Campbell did not have a gun with him in the parking lot, Graham (case law) and its progeny consistently emphasize that ’20-20 hindsight’ must be avoided,” she wrote.
“In the instant case, although Mr. Campbell had not committed a crime and displayed some behavior showing surrender and compliance (although this behavior was inconsistent), the Arbitrator concludes that it was reasonable to believe that he could be armed, and that when he ran, there was sufficient evidence for a finding that Mr. Campbell made motions that appeared to look like he was reaching for a gun.”
The arbitrator ordered the city to reinstate Frashour to his former job as a police officer and to make him whole for lost wages.
The city of Portland had paid outside lawyers to assist deputy city attorney Stephanie Harper in defending the firing. As of Feb. 4, the city had spent $434,514 for outside counsel in this arbitration case.
The arbitrator held 16 days of hearings between Sept. 14 and Nov. 29.
In February, Campbell’s family agreed to settle their federal wrongful death suit against the city for $1.2 million.
The mayor and chief released these statements:
“I spoke with Aaron Campbell’s mother today and expressed my disappointment in today’s ruling,” Adams said. “Chief Reese and I have been vocal about our stance on this case and we asked for this officer to be removed from service, based on the facts of the investigation and our policies. The City is reviewing all of its options, including whether we can appeal, and whether this is an award that is enforceable under state law.”
“The decision regarding this discipline was incredibly difficult and complex,” Reese said, in his prepared statement. “While I believe that each Bureau member was attempting to do their best, it was important to recognize the significant issues in regard to policy violations and performance issues that were brought forward. I concurred with recommendations made by the Performance Review Board and delivered what I believed to be appropriate discipline.”
Officer Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, called the firing politically motivated and applauded the arbitrator’s ruling. He said 25 Portland police officers testified before the arbitrator that Frashour’s use of deadly force was reasonable and in full compliance with bureau rules.
“The events of January 29, 2010 were a tragedy for the Campbell family and the City. It was wrong, though, to compound that tragedy with political decision-making that disregarded the facts of what occurred that night,” Turner wrote in a released statement.
The Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform, who had decried the fatal shooting of Campbell, plans to protest the decision with a picket line and news conference Monday at noon outside City Hall.
“The reinstatement of Frashour is another in a long line of arbitration overturning firings of officers who use deadly force or otherwise take actions often targeted at communities of color,” the coalition said, in a prepared statement.
MEDIA ADVISORY: AMA Coalition to Protest Officer Frashour’s Reinstatement: Monday, April 2, 12:00 Noon, City Hall
From: Portland Copwatch
Date: Friday, March 30, 2012
Subject: MEDIA ADVISORY: AMA Coalition to Protest Officer Frashour’s Reinstatement: Monday, April 2, 12:00 Noon, City Hall
To: News Media
Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform
c/o Dr. LeRoy Haynes, Allen Temple, 503-287-0261
PICKET LINE/NEWS CONFERENCE TO PROTEST OFFICER FRASHOUR’S REINSTATEMENT
Justice For Aaron Campbell
Monday, April 2, 2012, 12:00 Noon, Portland City Hall, SW 4th and Madison
On Monday, April 2, the Albina Ministerial Alliance (AMA) Coalition for Justice and Police Reform will hold a picket line and news conference to protest the State Arbitrator’s decision to reinstate Officer Ron Frashour to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). Frashour shot the unarmed Aaron Campbell in the back in January, 2010 and was fired later that year. The action will take place at 12:00 Noon on the 4th Avenue side of City Hall, between Madison and Jefferson Streets.
The reinstatement of Frashour is another in a long line of arbitration overturning firings of officers who wrongfully use deadly force, or otherwise take actions often targeted at communities of color.
–Officer Scott McCollister, who was suspended for six months after shooting and killing African American Kendra James in 2003, was reinstated with back pay;
–Officer Douglas Erickson, who shot and wounded African American Gerald Gratton in the back in 1993, was reinstated;
–Officers Richard Montee and Paul Wickersham, fired for selling T-Shirts reading “Don’t Choke ‘Em, Smoke ‘Em” after an officer choked African American security guard Lloyd “Tony” Stevenson in 1985, were reinstated;
–Officers Craig Ward and Jim Galloway, fired for tossing dead opossums on the porch of a black-owned business in 1981, were reinstated;
–In one case where the victim, Dennis Young, was white, Lt. Jeffrey Kaer was reinstated after being fired for shooting and killing Young in 2006.
The apparent racial bias of the arbitration system comes in the midst of a national debate on racial profiling, sparked by the shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida. Like Keaton Otis, an African American man shot and killed by Portland Police less than four months after Campbell, Martin was deemed suspicious for wearing a hoodie.
For more information visit the AMA Coalition website.
The AMA Coalition for Justice and Police Reform is working toward these five goals:
1. A federal investigation by the Justice Department to include criminal and civil rights violations, as well as a federal audit of patterns and practices of the Portland Police Bureau.
2. Strengthening the Independent Police Review Division and the Citizen Review Committee with the goal of adding power to compel testimony.
3. A full review of the Bureau’s excessive force and deadly force policies and training with diverse citizen participation for the purpose of making recommendations to change policies and training.
4. The Oregon State Legislature narrowing the language of the State statute for deadly force used by police officers.
5. Establishing a special prosecutor for police excessive force and deadly force cases.
The AMA Coalition for Justice and Police Reform follows these three principles:
–Embrace the five goals.
–Accept the principles of non-violent direct action as enunciated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
–Work as a team in concert to achieve the goals.
“The City is reviewing all of its options, including whether we can appeal, and whether this is an award that is enforceable under state law.” — Mayor Sam Adams
The City of Portland and the Portland Police Bureau have been informed by Arbitrator Jane Wilkinson that she has ruled in favor of the grievant, Ron Frashour, who was terminated from the Portland Police Bureau on November 16, 2010, following the January 29, 2010 shooting of Aaron Campbell.
The arbitrator has ruled Ron Frashour should be reinstated as a police officer. This award is the result of the grievance process. See the attached decision.
Ron Frashour’s employment was terminated by the Police Chief, an action approved by the Mayor, for violating Directive 1010.10 Deadly Physical Force, Directive 1010.20 Physical Force, and Directive 315.30 Unsatisfactory Performance.
“I spoke with Aaron Campbell’s mother today and expressed my disappointment in today’s ruling,” Mayor Sam Adams said. “Chief Reese and I have been vocal about our stance on this case and we asked for this officer to be removed from service, based on the facts of the investigation and our policies. The City is reviewing all of its options, including whether we can appeal, and whether this is an award that is enforceable under state law.”
“The decision regarding this discipline was incredibly difficult and complex” said Chief Michael Reese. “While I believe that each Bureau member was attempting to do their best, it was important to recognize the significant issues in regard to policy violations and performance issues that were brought forward. I concurred with recommendations made by the Performance Review Board and delivered what I believed to be appropriate discipline.”
The Mayor and Police Chief are disappointed in this ruling. However, out of this tragedy came several changes in police tactics and training, including:
* re-evaluating the Bureau’s less lethal directives to ensure uniformity;
* ensuring members who are selected to train and carry an AR15 rifle receive a comprehensive performance evaluation that includes the reinforcement of the Bureau’s Use of Force Directive;
* establishing an annual Less Lethal operator in-service;
* conducting command officer training on leadership in tactical incidents; and
* continued emphasis in training on de-escalation of people in mental health crisis as well as reviewing training scenarios to ensure they construct a need for situational awareness so members are trained in identifying the totality of circumstances in deadly force incidents.
The Community and Police Relations Committee also conducted a thoughtful review of our force policy and practice and made numerous recommendations — several of which Chief Reese is implementing.
The Mayor and Chief Reese remain committed to working with this and other community groups to police in a way reflective of community desires.
“As Chief, I remain committed to continuing to looking at national best practices, improving partnerships with mental health service providers, and refining tactics and training that involve people in mental health crisis,” Chief Reese said.
Caryn Brooks, Communications Director, Office of Mayor Sam Adams
1221 SW Fourth Ave, Suite 340, Portland, OR 97204
Twitter: @carynbrooks Web: mayorsamadams.com
For the fifth time, an independent review of the actions of Officer Ron Frashour has found that Officer Frashour fully complied with the law and with national and local standards for the use of force. After an 18-day trial, Arbitrator Jane Wilkinson has ruled that Officer Frashour’s actions and decision making were those of a reasonable police officer, and that his conduct was fully in compliance with his training.
The hearing before Arbitrator Wilkinson could hardly have been more thorough. More than 30 witnesses testified, and thousands of pages of exhibits were considered. Expert witnesses on police procedures and deadly force incidents testified at great length. The City was represented by one of the best labor law firms in the country. Arbitrator Wilkinson, who once served as the chairperson of Washington’s Public Employment Relations Commission, has more than 20 years experience as an arbitrator, and is a member of the prestigious National Academy of Arbitrators.
In the end, facts are important. Arbitrator Wilkinson conclusively ruled that Officer Frashour reasonably believed that Mr. Campbell, who had threatened “suicide by police’ was armed and was reaching for his weapon at the time he was shot. 25 Portland police officers, who collectively have hundreds of years of service for the City, testified that Officer Frashour’s decision to use deadly force was reasonable and in full compliance with the Bureau’s rules.
The Portland Police Association cannot allow Portland Police Officers to face termination and substantial discipline for doing their jobs correctly. If that occurs, public safety would be deeply compromised. The events of January 29, 2010, were a tragedy for the Campbell family and the City. It was wrong, though, to compound that tragedy with political decision making that disregarded the facts of what occurred that night. The neutral arbitrator agreed to by the City to hear the case has found the same thing as the grand jury that considered the case more than two years ago- that Officer Frashour was credible, and that he was not at fault in the incident.