City Offers to Settle with Man Shot by Police

Not Available Elsewhere Online – March 5, 1994 | The Oregonian

Gerald Frank Gratton Jr. was intoxicated when police were called to quell a disturbance he was causing on the No.4 Fessenden bus July 19.

When he saw cops coming, Gratton fled from a rear door and started running on foot near the intersection of North Lombard Street and Interstate Avenue.

In the next few seconds, two officers fired 26 shots at the fleeing Gratton. One bullet grazed his head. Others hit him in an arm and his back, requiring three surgeries.

Now the city is offering to settle a civil lawsuit filed on Gratton’s behalf for $118,000. The lawsuit alleged that the police response violated Gratton’s civil rights. The Portland City Council will be asked to approve the settlement next Wednesday.

An ordinance approving the settlement is on the council’s consent agenda, a portion of the weekly docket composed of routine items, which draw no public discussion.

Based on investigation by the city attorney’s office and the city’s Risk Management Division, “it appears there is a risk that the City would be found liable; and that it is prudent to settle the claim in order to avoid full liability and further costs of defense and litigation,” the ordinance says.

Meanwhile, Gratton, who was 27 at the time of the incident, is awaiting sentencing in Multnomah County Circuit Court on a charge of being a convict in possession of a firearm. He had a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol tucked in his waistband when he fled from the bus, although he never drew it against the police.

Gratton could not be reached for comment on the settlement. According to a court record, he has been given permission to leave Oregon while awaiting sentencing. It is likely that Gratton will receive at least a few months in jail.

Officer Douglas Erickson, who fired 22 of the 26 shots aimed at Gratton, was fired by Police Chief Charles Moose in October. Erickson filed a grievance that was denied by Mayor Vera Katz, who is the commissioner in charge of police.

Roger Morse, president of the Portland Police Association, said Erickson has demanded an arbitration hearing to contest the severity of Moose’s decision. That hearing tentatively is scheduled for June.

Moose concluded that Erickson violated bureau policy by firing at Gratton when Gratton had not put the lives of the officers or anyone else in danger.