The Portland Police Association Tuesday morning argued that the city auditor’s review of witness testimony in the arbitration involving fired Officer Ron Frashour was not independent but marred by politics.
“We had requested an independent review of testimony of city witness testimony by a third-party,” wrote Officer Daryl Turner, association president, in response to the auditor’s report released five minutes to 5 p.m. on Monday.
“Instead, we received a review from the city’s own auditor who, prior to issuing her review, met privately with Mayor Adams and Chief Reese, but not with the PPA leadership,” Turner wrote, in prepared comments.
After the city auditor released her report, Mayor Sam Adams tweeted this message: “Based on the Auditor’s findings, I respectfully ask the Portland Police Association to cease their attacks on the character and integrity of member of the Portland Police Bureau, and to start focusing on the facts of this case.”
Using Mayor Sam Adams’ own words from the Twitter message, Turner Monday morning urged city commissioners to “focus on the facts of this case,” before considering whether to appeal a state panel’s ruling that orders the city to abide by an arbitrator’s award that Frashour be reinstated to the police force.
At 2 p.m. on Thursday, the City Council is set to consider a resolution to appeal the ruling by the state Employment Relations Board.
“The fact is, the PPA has always focused on the facts of Officer Frashour’s use of deadly force,” Turner wrote. “In contrast, the City – and Mayor Adams – have focused on politics, which deprived the community of facts that would allow them to understand why Officer Frashour justifiably used deadly force, and why every neutral party that has reviewed this case has agreed…”
The mayor and police chief fired Frashour in November 2010, finding his use of deadly force against Campbell on Jan. 29, 2010 was not justified because [Aaron] Campbell did not pose an immediate threat.
The union filed a grievance challenging the firing. Portland police trainers testified that Frashour acted consistent with his bureau training – contrary to Chief Mike Reese‘s testimony that Frashour did not acted as trained. Arbitrator Jane Wilkinson ordered the city to reinstate Frashour, finding the firing unjust.
Meanwhile, the police union called for an independent investigation of Lt. Robert King‘s testimony from the arbitration hearings.
King, who oversaw the training division’s review of Frashour’s shooting, testified before an arbitrator reviewing Frashour’s firing that the training division’s analysis was a “coordinated effort among bureau training instructors.” He testified that he discussed the shooting “extensively” with seven bureau instructors and showed them a draft of his review. The review, King testified, concluded that Frashour did not act according to his training.
But King broke down in tears under cross-examination after union attorney Will Aitchison on entered into evidence five drafts between May 12 and June 20, 2010, in which King found that Frashour had acted appropriately, before he suddenly concluded the opposite in his final June 21, 2010, review.
When grilled by the union attorney, King acknowledged that he did not ask any trainers to review the full investigative files of the shooting and included none of their opinions in his final review, according to a transcript of King’s testimony in late September 2011 obtained by The Oregonian.
Police union leaders called for an independent investigation of King’s testimony, saying the unusual turn of events suggested that Frashour’s firing was politically motivated. They pointed to the fact that the review was done by a new lieutenant who shut out the opinions of lead police trainers, and that the findings changed after the May 12, 2010, appointment of Chief Mike Reese.
City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade, selected by the mayor to conduct an investigation, concluded that no police witnesses “appear to have violated” the bureau directive requiring truthfulness. The auditor also concluded there was no “documentary evidence” that King or others in the bureau, including the police chief, faced political pressure to fire Frashour.
“There is no indication in King’s testimony that he was untruthful about whether and the extent to which he consulted with training instructors in the process of developing” the training analysis of Frashour’s fatal shooting, the auditor wrote.
Police union attorney Anil Karia, who was present during one of the interviews of a police training instructor for the auditor’s review, stated his concerns to those conducting the interview:
According to a transcript of the testimony, Karia said:
So for the record, this is ANIL KARIA and on behalf of the PPA, I wanted to note two concerns or objections if you will, to this investigation. The first is that it appears that this particular investigation is retaliatory towards PPA members who testified at Officer Frashour’s labor arbitration. Secondly, it also appears that IPR is improperly using Internal Affairs to compel PPA members to this investigation, to make up for the fact that IPR lacks subpoena power over PPA members.
Reese, in his interview with the auditor’s investigators, said he believed that some of the bureau’s police trainers were improperly swayed by a Power [sic] presentation that the union attorney Aitchison presented to the bureau during a mitigation hearing in defense of Frashour before his termination.
“I believe that they – the PPA presented to our due process hearing a PowerPoint presentation that they then showed to the trainers, and it was not factually accurate,” Reese told investigators. “I think if they’re reviewing all of the material in a more sterile environment, without the filter of management or labor, that they may come to different conclusions.”
When asked if he knew how the bureau’s training division reviews of police shootings were to occur, the chief said he didn’t know.
Constantin Severe, the assistant director of the Independent Police Review Division who questioned the chief, asked, “So to your knowledge is there a standard operating procedure or directive that governs what a training analysis is supposed to consist of or how it’s supposed to be routed through the process in these cases?”
Reese said, “No, I don’t know. I’m sure the training has some protocols on it.”
Yet the city auditor found that at the time of Frashour’s shooting review, there were no established procedures for the training division’s analysis of the officer-involved shooting. She recommended the bureau adopt stringent standards that define the scope of the reviews, who conducts them and what to do if there are different conclusions by members of the training division.
Assistant Chief Larry O’Dea, in his interview, cited his concerns about what he thought were misguided trainers’ opinions of the Frashour shooting.
“I felt like what I heard was a..a rehearsed union story from some of the trainers, not individual opinions on here’s what I know, here’s what..how to apply this,” O’Dea said.
O’Dea did point out that the training review’s analysis of the Campbell shooting was handled differently, because the training division captain, then Bob Day, could not supervise it since he was the commander involved in the Campbell case. That’s why King. a lieutenant in the training division, was reporting to O’Dea, and emailing O’Dea drafts of his training analyses