May 13th, 2010 5:33 pm | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall, Cops and Courts

Adams and Reese Debut: Details Still Sketchy on Cop Shooting

Mike Reese

Mayor (and newly minted Police Commissioner) Sam Adams joined today with his new police chief, Mike Reese to discuss last night's fatal police shooting in a press conference that took place less than 24 hours after Adams had introduced Reese yesterday as the new chief.

There are still many unknowns in that shooting — the third fatal police shooting in 2010.

According to the cops, at 6:21 p.m. last night, two officers with the anti-gang Hotspot Enforcement Action Team tried to stop a vehicle at Northeast Grand Avenue and Holladay Street near the Lloyd Center.

The vehicle, which police are not yet identifying, had only one person inside. Police also are not yet identifying the car's occupant. According to the police, when officers approached the car, the driver yelled at them, refused to obey orders and reached into the passenger area.

More cops arrived on the scene at some point during the encounter. They Tasered the driver twice, but that didn't stop the driver's movements, police say. The driver pulled a gun and shot Officer Christopher Burley twice in the legs. His injuries were not life-threatening. Then three other cops returned fire, and the driver died at the scene.

"It was obviously a very traumatic incident for the officers involved and for other witnesses," Reese said. "I really feel personally for the officers that were out there. It was hard on them. I could see they were really surprised by how quickly this encounter turned violent."

At the news conference, Reese faced repeated questions about why officers Tasered the driver and why the Tasering apparently didn't work. Reese said he couldn't answer, because the investigation is not yet complete.

Reese stated that the officers' "attention was drawn" to the vehicle. After reporting previously about gang-enforcement policing in Portland, WW asked Reese what about the vehicle drew the cops' attention. Reese said the officers had been following the vehicle for quite a while before they observed the traffic infractions, including illegal lane changes.

"Certainly it would draw my concern if a car made unsignaled turns with a police car behind it," Reese said.

He never said why police were following the car in the first place. But Reese emphasized there's high crime in the Lloyd Center area and reports of gang activity, including a shooting over spring break this year inside the mall.

Reese and Adams both emphasized they want to be as timely and transparent as possible in revealing information about police shootings. Adams was at the scene after the shooting last night, where he even Tweeted about the incident.

Adams Tweets

He said he'll continue to visit such scenes, and to Tweet about them.

"This was a really heartbreaking scene — to see a young Portlander dead on one of our sidewalks was really heartbreaking," Adams said. "In a moment like that, anyone would have the reaction — I know I did — that this shouldn't happen in Portland. Not to pass judgment on the officers."

(Photo of Reese courtesy East PDX News.)
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