About 30 community members gathered outside Portland City Hall on Tuesday to condemn a state board’s ruling that orders the city to reinstate fired police Officer Ron Frashour.
Attorney Tom Steenson, representing the family of Aaron Campbell — the unarmed man Frashour fatally shot in the back in 2010 — read a statement by Campbell’s mother, Marva Davis, who is out of town.
READ – Statement from Marva Davis (PDF download – 590KB)
“The community doesn’t need people like you on the police force who act and then think later,” Davis wrote in prepared comments. “You are a liability… Putting you back on the streets is a big mistake.”
Davis and her husband, John Davis, thanked Mayor Sam Adams for continuing to fight Frashour’s reinstatement.
“I thank Mayor Adams and the community for drawing the line and taking a stand for what is morally right,” Marva Davis’ statement said.
She criticized Frashour for not showing remorse to her family.
Portland Mayor Sam Adams on Monday said he’ll urge the City Council to appeal the state Employment Relations Board ruling that ordered the city to bring back Frashour within 30 days, with back pay, benefits and 9 percent interest.
In a decision released Monday, the board unanimously ruled that the city violated the Public Collective Bargaining Act by refusing to follow an arbitrator’s award in March that ordered Frashour be returned to his job.
The board did not issue the city a civil penalty, but said the city must post a public notice in the Police Bureau and other city offices that states the city in a “calculated” action violated state law.
On Jan. 29, 2010, Frashour shot Campbell in the back with an AR-15 rifle, after Campbell had been struck with multiple beanbag-shotgun rounds shortly after emerging from a Northeast Portland apartment. Frashour said he thought Campbell was reaching for a gun.
Outside City Hall Tuesday, John Davis, Campbell’s stepdad, said, “I’m not against policing at all. I’m just against unjust policing.”
Steenson called the Portland police oversight system broken — “at the top with police leadership and at the bottom, with police and the union.”
The mayor and Police Chief Mike Reese fired Frashour on Nov. 8, 2010. But on March 30, Arbitrator Jane Wilkinson ordered the city to reinstate Frashour, saying a reasonable officer could have concluded that Campbell “made motions that appeared to look like he was reaching for a gun.”
Portland police training instructors testified before the arbitrator that Frashour acted as trained – contrary to testimony from Chief Mike Reese that Frashour violated the bureau’s use of force policy and training.
Steenson said either the trainers are lying about the training, and/or the police leadership knew exactly what the training is and ignored it, “or they’re so incompetent and didn’t know what the trainers were doing.”
Steenson called on the city to remove sergeants from the same union as the rank-and-file officers they supervise. He also called for strong police leadership.
“Repeatedly what you find is a police chief unwilling to take the police union on,” Steenson said.
In April. Campbell’s family, joined by members of the Albina Ministerial Alliance, had demonstrated outside City Hall to protest the arbitrator’s ruling.
The mayor refused to follow the arbitrator’s ruling – a first involving an officer terminated for use of force. The police union filed an Unfair Labor Practices complaint on Frashour’s behalf.
The arbitrator in the Frashour case, the state board noted, concluded there was an “objectively reasonable basis” for Frashour to believe that Campbell posed an “immediate risk of serious injury or death to others.” The arbitrator found the city did not prove Frashour violated the police bureau’s use of force policies.
The Albina Minsterial Alliance, made up of 125 Portland-area churches, argued in a legal brief submitted to the board that Oregon’s Employment Relations Board needs to consider “the rights of people in communities affected by excessive police use of force.”
The alliance’s position, which mimicked the city’s argument against reinstating Frashour, said it represents “the interests of communities disproportionately impacted by police use of force in the City of Portland,” including African American communities, people with mental health disabilities and other minority groups.
The Rev. Lynne Smouse Lopez, pastor of Ainsworth United Church of Christ, vowed that the Albina Ministerial Alliance will continue to fight Frashour’s ordered return to the police force.
“He was and is a danger to the community,” Lopez said, outside City Hall Tuesday. “We will not stop!”
Adams Monday pledged to make the Frashour discipline a “test case,” frustrated by repeated arbitration rulings that have overturned the city’s discipline of police. He said he’ll urge the City Council to hold a hearing within 30 days to vote whether to challenge the board’s ruling to the Oregon Court of Appeals.
Portland Officer Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, earlier Tuesday blasted the mayor, saying his defiance of the order to reinstate Frashour reflects a “personal vendetta.”
“Mayor Adams has turned this into a personal vendetta and is using the hard-earned dollars of tax-paying Portlanders as his personal checkbook to extend this politically motivated witch hunt at the expense of the integrity of a process that protects the very core of collective bargaining,” Turner said. “He’s showing the questionable integrity that he’s had all during his tenure.”
Disturbed by Turner’s harsh remarks, Commissioner Randy Leonard on Tuesday decided to throw his support behind the mayor’s court challenge of the state board’s order on Frashour.
Leonard wrote a response to Turner’s statements: “Really, Mr Turner? How do you characterize the integrity of your members’ actions that led to a complete breakdown of all the training the Portland Police Bureau provides officers to avoid tragedies such as the indefensible killing of Aaron Campbell? And I don’t mean just the lack of integrity by the officer that pulled the trigger that killed Mr. Campbell.”
Leonard said he doesn’t expect the court challenge to be successful, however.
“No, I don’t think we have a great chance of winning…but we do have a chance,” Leonard wrote on his blog. “Consequently, I will support Mayor Adams’ request to appeal the Employment Relations Board decision to the Oregon Court of Appeals. ”