Portland Police Release Security Video That Shows Officer Shoot and Kill Man as He Advances Toward Police With Sharp Object

The video contradicts eyewitness accounts in several important ways.

motel 6 activists Activists confront police at the scene of a shooting outside a Motel 6 in the Lloyd District on June 24, 2021. (Justin Yau)

The Portland Police Bureau on Friday evening released security footage of an officer fatally shooting a man June 24 in the parking lot of a Motel 6 in the Lloyd District. The video shows the subject advancing on the officer while pointing at him with what police say is a screwdriver.

PPB also released the name of the officer who pulled the trigger: Curtis Brown, an 18-year veteran of the bureau, who is Black. The man killed was white, police said.

Update, June 26: The victim of the Thursday night shooting outside of the Motel 6 in the Lloyd Neighborhood has been identified as 40-year old Michael Ray Townsend.

The Portland Police Bureau identified Townsend in a press release Saturday afternoon, and noted that his family declined to provide a photo of Townsend. However, the bureau did provide a photo of him from what appears to be a jail booking. Townsend appears to be white. He has the words “trust” and “faith” tattooed above his eyebrows. Two tattoos near his hairline show what appear to be spiderwebs.

The video provides a clear visual of the seconds before Brown pulled the trigger. The footage contradicts eyewitness accounts in several important ways, including the apparent race of the victim and whether he was advancing on police or fleeing from them.

In the video, six officers and paramedics stand around the man as he sits on an exterior stairwell at the Motel 6. Police said the group arrived at the motel in response to a dispatch for a welfare check on a white adult male dressed in all black.

The footage police released Friday does not have audio, so it is unclear what the officers and paramedics were discussing with the man, and what the tone of the conversation was. Suddenly, the video shows, the first responders rapidly back away from the staircase, and it appears that the man draws a sharp object from his person.

The video then shows Brown draw his handgun. At nearly the same moment, the man then stands up and hops toward Brown, holding his left arm cocked in a combat position. (He appears to have a weapon in his left hand.) Brown, backing away toward a squad car, fires after the man advances about five steps in his direction. The man falls to the ground, clutching his stomach.

The release of the video follows 23 hours of intense civic agitation around the shooting, as well as the police response to protesters who arrived on the scene, many of them persuaded by social media accounts that the man police killed was Black. Police deployed mace on several people to clear them from the scene, saying that they jeopardized the integrity of the investigation.

Police brass, including Chief Chuck Lovell, had concentrated their statements on how police handled the roughly 60 protesters, rather than the circumstances of the shooting itself. That only intensified questions around the killing—many of which the video seems to answer.

In releasing the video, Lovell rebuked journalists and activists who ferried other accounts of the event.

“While the investigation is still in its early stages, and releasing evidence at this point is rare, providing this video is critical to combat misinformation being spread,” he said in a statement. “This illustrates how important it is to allow the investigation process to unfold before spreading unverified information.”

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.