Detectives are investigating Friday’s shooting by Fairview police, as the mother of the man killed disputes the police account.
Shortly before midnight Friday, two officers responded to a 9-1-1 call to Wood Creek Apartments near the corner of Northeast 203rd Avenue and Halsey Street. There, one or both officers fired their weapon, killing Larry M. McKinney, a 37-year-old with a lengthy criminal history who lived in an apartment with his mother, Sandra Kelley.
Fairview police say McKinney attacked them while brandishing a large knife. Kelley, who was there, said Sunday that McKinney never advanced on the officers, instead standing about 20 feet away.
“I want the truth to be told,” said Kelley, 60, adding that she stood a few feet away from police. “My son did not move an inch: he didn’t talk, he didn’t threaten no one.”
Kelley had called 9-1-1 because McKinney came home drunk, and refused to leave when asked, she said. Based on past experience, she feared he would play loud music, and she fears being evicted.
“My rule is you don’t drink at my house, and you don’t come home buzzed or drunk,” she said.
She waited outside. When the officers arrived, her son came to the door of their second-story apartment, at the top of 14-step staircase, holding a kitchen knife, 8 to 9 inches long. At the bottom of the stairs, officers unholstered weapons, she said.
“I said ‘Put the knife down, Larry,’ and they go, ‘Drop the weapon! Drop the weapon,’ and then they shot him three times. It happened that fast.”
Sgt. Bernie Meyer of the Fairview Police Department confirmed Sunday that Kelley was there, but declined to name the officers, or say how many fired weapons. Nor would he address the mother’s specific claims.
“The officers felt they were threatened, and that’s why they reacted the way they did,” he said. “We are trained to stop the threat.”
Meyer said officers are trained in “the 21-foot rule” that a knife-wielding suspect can cover 21 feet before officers can draw weapons and fire.
The officers involved are on leave pending an investigation by the East County Major Crimes Team, which includes the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and Portland, Gresham and Troutdale police.
McKinney has been booked in Multnomah County jails 62 times since 1993, according to jail records. According to his mother, his early troubles stemmed from drugs, leading to a state prison sentence for assault. His more recent arrests had to do with drinking and related issues, such as probation violations, she said.
But she said he was no threat to police. “They knew him,” she said. “A lot of them liked him.”
Gerald Kelley, McKinney’s uncle, was inside the apartment watching television when he saw his nephew step outside to confront police.
“I go, ‘Oh quit it, Larry put the knife down, don’t be stupid,’ because he does stupid stuff when he’s drunk. I thought he might threaten to kill himself, because you know he’s got a lot of mental problems. I thought he was just screwing around.”
“I heard (Sandra Kelley) say ‘Put the knife down, Larry!’ and it couldn’t have been more than three or four seconds,” he said. “All I heard was ‘pop-pop-pop.'”
McKinney spent some time working at Precision Castparts and on an Alaskan fishing boat, but had his fingers crushed on the boat, and has been unemployed ever since. He spent two weeks in jail earlier this month, split between a Multnomah County probation violation and a drunk-driving conviction in Umatilla. He was slated to go into a treatment program in the coming weeks, Sandra Kelley said.
He is the father of two daughters, 3 and 9, and a 10-year-old son. His children’s mother has custody, but McKinney remained close to them, his mother said. “He’s a great father. He cooks for them, he plays with them, he dances with them. He’s a big kid himself, basically.”