December 1st, 2010 | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Cops and Courts

Read the Letter: Sister of Man Killed in Police Shooting Asks Adams Not to Promote Officer



As reported in this week's Murmurs, the sister of a man shot to death by a Portland cop in 2005 is now asking Mayor Sam Adams and Police Chief Mike Reese not to promote the officer involved in the shooting.

Officer Leo Besner tops the Police Bureau's list of officers to promote to sergeant. But Bobbie Jo Foster of Sammamish, Wash., argues in her Nov. 30 letter (PDF) that Besner has a history of violent encounters on duty.

"Each of the cases above are (sic) different, but all highlight that Officer Besner has a violent streak that is a danger to Portland," Foster writes.

Besner was a police sniper in 2005 when Foster's brother, 30-year-old Raymond Gwerder, was reported armed and suicidal in a Northeast Portland apartment complex. Besner shot Gwerder in the back while Gwerder was on the phone with a police negotiator.

The city settled a lawsuit over the Gwerder shooting in 2007 for $500,000. It was the largest payout in city history for police use of force until this year's $1.6 million settlement for the 2006 death of James Chasse Jr.

Reese is set to fill five vacant sergeant positions and three empty lieutenant spots Dec. 9.

Besner has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Here again is Foster's letter, which she copied to Reese:
Dear Mayor Adams,

It was reported last week that Portland Police Bureau Officer Leo Besner is on the top of the promotion list to make Sergeant when promotions are announced at the Bureau on December 9th.

As the sibling of one of Besner's many victims, I would be outraged should this occur as would many others. Besner remains a danger to the very public he is sworn to protect. Promoting Besner would be a slap in the face to the long list of victims and Portlanders at large. In addition to shooting my brother Raymond Gwerder in the back while he was complying with a police negotiator, Besner's other known victims include:

· Bill Ellis an antiwar protestor who was targeted and punished with a beat down by Besner for his perceived leadership role in a protest.
· 15 year old Maria-Janeth Rodriguez-Sanchez was roughed up by Besner while she waiting at a bus stop
· Charles Lincoln, then 71, was attempting to restrain a woman who had a knife when Besner tasered him
· Most recently (that we know of) Harold Hammick, Ri'Chard Booth and Alex Clay were terrorized by Besner for nearly an hour in a parking garage in Portland before being released without being charged with a crime.


Documentation exists that shows Besner falsified reports in at least one of the above cases, which highlights that in addition to being violent, he lacks the moral character required to even retain certification to remain a police officer. It's extremely unfortunate that despite massive losses to the city and victims far and wide as a result of Officer Besner's overbearing tactics that the city is unwilling or unable to terminate his employment with the Police Bureau. Each of the cases above are different, but all highlight that Officer Besner has a violent streak that is a danger to Portland.

I would like to encourage you and the Police Chief to send a clear message to the public that Besner's brand of violence will not be tolerated much less rewarded and that despite making the list, not promote Besner.

Bobbie Jo Foster
 
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