The U.S. Department of Justice has declined to comment to WW whether and how the shooting of an apparently mentally ill person by a central precinct police officer last week will affect a recently launched DOJ investigation
of the Portland Police Bureau.
Nevertheless, it's clear DOJ officials will be looking over the bureau's shoulder as it investigates the incident internally. On Thursday, Officer Dane Reister fired four lethal shotgun rounds from a gun that was supposed to have been loaded only with beanbags. Instead of beanbags, five pellets struck William Kyle Monroe in the hip area, police said, leaving Monroe hospitalized and city officials issuing heretofore rare apologies. Monroe is expected to survive and is reportedly in fair condition as of Monday.
Last month, the DOJ sent a top deputy to Portland to determine whether the Portland Police Bureau has exhibited a pattern of civil rights abuses. The review focuses on police use of force in incidents involving mentally ill people. Skeptics such as Dave Park, an attorney who represents clients in police misconduct cases, worry the federal review won't amount to much.
"The DOJ could come out with a report for findings of policy changes, and it wouldn't make any difference," says Dave Park, an attorney who represents clients in police misconduct cases. "The policy is not the problem, the internal accountability is the problem: There isn't any."
In particular, Park is perturbed by the shortage of facts in the public domain following Thursday's shooting.Correction
: A previous version of this post misquoted Police Sgt. Pete Simpson as saying the Independent Police Review Division would release more information about the incident in the next few weeks. The IRPD doesn't release information about ongoing investigations. Simpson said it's the police who will release more information — when the criminal investigation ends and the bureau forwards the case to the district attorney. That could be a few weeks, he said.