March 26th, 2010 | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Cops and Courts

Cops Making Comparatively Rapid Progress on Campbell Shooting Probe

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With all eyes this week on Monday's fatal Portland police shooting of Jackie Collins at Hoyt Arboretum, we wanted to check on cops' progress probing another recent police shooting — the Jan. 29 death of Aaron Campbell (photo above).

Bottom line: the internal investigation into Campbell's death is moving at near-light speed compared with the three-plus years it took police to reach findings in the 2006 death of James Chasse Jr.

"It's quicker than I've ever seen it before," Sgt. Scott Westerman, head of the police union, says of the probe into the Campbell shooting. "The politicians have finally woken up to the fact that the public has expectations. Three years on the Chasse investigation was pathetic."

With the investigation of the Campbell shooting, police have been conducting interviews starting with cops peripherally involved in the death and gradually moving toward the central figure in the incident — Officer Ronald Frashour, who killed Campbell with a single round from an AR-15 assault rifle.

Detectives yesterday interviewed Officer Ryan Lewton, who fired six rounds at Campbell from a less-lethal beanbag gun. Sgt. Liani Reyna, who was in charge of the scene during most of the incident, has not yet been interviewed by internal affairs. She's scheduled to go on vacation next week.

So instead, IA is jumping straight to the heart of the matter. Frashour is scheduled to be interviewed next week.

It will be Frashour's third interview about the incident. First he spoke with detectives shortly after the shooting as part of a criminal investigation — essentially, testifying in what was a potential case against himself.

Cops don't have to cooperate with those interviews because of Constitutional protections against self-incrimination. Westerman says Portland's is the only major police force in the country where cops cooperate with detectives in this way.

Next came Frashour's sworn testimony to a Multnomah County grand jury last month. That testimony was made public for the first time pursuant to a request from Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

After that precedent was set, Westerman says the police union will in the future advise cops not to cooperate with detectives seeking interviews. Instead, if the grand-jury testimony is going to be made public, Westerman says the detectives should use those transcripts rather than put an officer in a situation where differing testimony in two interviews could be used against the officer.

Much has been made of the fact that detectives didn't interview Officer Jason Walters until two days after he fatally shot Collins at Hoyt Arboretum. But more remarkable perhaps is the fact that Walters consented to the interview at all. The union advised him against it, and Saltzman has again requested that the grand-jury testimony be made public.

As opposed to detectives' criminal investigation, the internal-affairs probe currently underway on the Campbell shooting is focused not on whether officers broke the law, but whether and how they violated police policy and training.
 
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