Grand jury finds no criminal wrongdoing in Sept. 29 Portland police officer-involved shooting

By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, Oct. 12, 2012

Joshua Baker

Joshua Baker

A Multnomah County grand jury has found no criminal wrongdoing by two Portland police officers involved in a Sept. 29 shooting that wounded Joshua Stephen Baker.

Instead, the grand jury returned an indictment against Baker, 27, charging him with attempted murder with a firearm, first-degree assault with a firearm, felony elude, fourth-degree assault involving domestic violence and two counts of menacing.

The incident stemmed from a domestic violence assault at the Hathaway Apartments on Southeast 134th Avenue. A Good Samaritan had tried to intervene, but got shot by the suspect, authorities said.

According to Portland police, East Precinct officers were called to Hathaway Apartments, at 3320 Southeast 134th Ave., at 3:54 a.m. on Sept. 29. 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 issued after the incident. “At the crash site, there was an officer-involved shooting.”

Portland officers Erik Strohmeyer, a 12-year bureau veteran, and Garry Britt, a 4-year bureau member, fired shots at Baker.

Portland police said Baker suffered non-life threatening injuries, was treated at a local hospital and then booked into jail.

Police did not say 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, was hospitalized in critical condition, police said.

The grand jury also has indicted Baker on charges of strangulation involving domestic violence, fourth-degree assault and menacing in connection with incidents that occurred on July 1 and July 8, according to the district attorney’s office.

He’s being held at the Multnomah County Detention Center on $505,000 bail, according to jail records.

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