Officer Craig Lehman shot and wounded a man inside the McCormick Pier Grocery & Deli convenience store on Northwest Naito Parkway on the evening of July 20, the Portland Police Bureau announced Wednesday night.
Lehman has been a member of PPB for almost nine years, the Police Bureau said. He appears to be the same officer who served on the Delta Squad of the now-defunct Rapid Response Team as recently as last summer, court records show. Courthouse News Service reported in December that PPB removed Lehman from “public-order policing duty” pending an investigation into allegations that he and fellow RRT member Officer Justin Damerville used excessive force against legal observers and journalists during racial justice protests last year.
A bureau spokesperson confirmed Lehman’s previous role on RRT, and said he had been assigned to Central Precinct. On Saturday, spokesman Sgt. Kevin Allen clarified that Lehman had not returned to policing protests since being removed from that assignment.
“In accordance with an agreement the City of Portland made related to pending litigation, Officer Lehman was not authorized to respond to public order events. He has not been deployed to any such events since December when the agreement was made.
Earlier today, police identified the shooting victim as 32-year-old Joshua Lyle Merritt. PPB says its officers were dispatched to the convenience store Tuesday night due to an “unwanted person” call about a white male who allegedly refused to leave the store after taking food without paying and then lying on the floor.
The Police Bureau said officers arrived at the store at 9:44 pm and that police then spent “several minutes trying to reach the suspect,” who allegedly retreated further into the convenience store. About eight minutes after arriving, police say, they shot Merritt, who was transported to the hospital with what the bureau described as a “non-life-threatening wound.”
Hours after the shooting, the Police Bureau charged Merritt with one count of menacing, which is a class A misdemeanor, and one count of unlawful use of a weapon—a class C felony. At 12:24 pm on Wednesday, police booked Merritt in the Multnomah County Jail downtown, records show. Bail is set at $7,500.
Police have not yet released any details about the alleged weapon.
Merritt is the fourth person Portland police have shot this year, following the fatal shooting of Michael Townsend on June 24, the non-fatal shooting of Darrin Carr on May 22 and the shooting death of Robert Delgado on April 16. In comparison, officers of the Police Bureau shot two people in 2020 (one was wounded but survived, another was not struck by bullets), and six people in 2019—five of whom died.
Lehman is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the shooting investigation, the Police Bureau says.
“This is a situation that no officer wants to face. We are in the preliminary stages but will conduct a thorough investigation,” Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement. “I want to thank everyone who responded to the scene as well as those who were out taking emergency calls in the city.”
This post was updated to reflect a corrected statement from the Police Bureau on Lehman’s assignment.