The Portland Police Bureau released its case files and videos that reveal more details about the death of John Andrew Elifritz, 48, who officers shot and killed in a homeless shelter near downtown Portland on April 7.
Surveillance videos from inside the shelter shows Elifritz enter the shelter and begin stabbing himself in the neck with a knife. As he moved toward the back of the room, he dripped blood across the wood floor.
Officers entered and fired several bean bags at Elifritz, but he refused to drop the knife in his hand. He appeared to continue to cut himself with the knife as more than a dozen officers entered the shelter.
The videos shows Elifritz took several quick steps toward police before they fired their weapons.
Witnesses who had been attending an Alcohol Anonymous meeting inside the CityTeam Ministries Portland Shelter told police Elifritz appeared to be having a "psychotic episode" and "was not listening to [officers] at all, that he was incoherent, and obviously mentally ill to do something like this." One witness said he appeared to be "methed out," because he was "fidgety, moving quickly and twitching his body as he moved back and forth to the window like he was paranoid."
The accounts, summarized in police case files which PPB posted online, say that Elifritz entered the shelter without a shirt, asking for a coat or blanket. He grabbed a jacket from a box of clothes and then left the shelter, only to return a few minutes later.
The AA meeting carried on until one attendee noticed Elifritz had a knife held to his own throat, and yelled "Holy shit he's killing himself," according to one of the witnesses. Someone ran to the shelter door and shouted to the police who were searching the area for Elifritz after he had crashed a stolen car nearby.
That's when officers entered the shelter.
Elifritz's family filed a lawsuit against the City of Portland and the individual officers who fired their guns on May 22, claiming the officers acted unlawfully and were engaged in a pattern of excessive force against people suffering from mental illness.