November 8th, 2007 | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

City Settles Wrongful-Death Lawsuit for Police Shooting


The City of Portland has agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a wrongful-death suit filed by the family of Raymond Gwerder, who died in a police shooting at a Northeast Portland apartment complex.

The half-million-dollar settlement is the largest ever by the city in a police shooting, according to a news release from Tom Steenson, the family's attorney. The settlement was reached last week but has not yet been approved by the City Council.

City attorney Linda Meng declined to comment.

Gwerder, 30, was shot in the back by a police sniper on Nov. 4, 2005, while he was talking on a cell phone with a police negotiator. Officer Leo Besner said he fired because he was afraid Gwerder, who was reported to be armed and suicidal, could shoot through the wall of a home next door.

A grand jury found that Besner did not break any laws.

According to the news release, Gwerder's family is concerned that Besner has a history of violent encounters, including slamming a 15-year-old bystander into a wall, pepper-spraying protesters, and tasering a man who attempted to restrain a violent woman who had a knife.

"Besner still not only roams the streets of Portland, but with a badge, an arsenal, and apparently the unending support of his department," Gwerder's sister, Bobbie Jo Clark, is quoted as saying in the news release.

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