The Portland Police Bureau, under intense scrutiny following three police shootings in under a week, is refusing to name the officer responsible for the latest killing.
That string of shootings began early Sunday morning, when Officer Mina Cavalli-Singer killed 19-year-old Johnathan Worth. Worth had fired a gun during a scuffle with two officers on the sidewalk in the Centennial neighborhood of East Portland, police said.
On Tuesday, Officer Kevin Roush fired at a suspect who rammed a patrol car and “appeared to attempt to run over” the officer on foot, according to the police. The officers were responding to reports of gunfire in St. Johns. The suspect escaped and remains at large.
On Wednesday, an officer killed a man in the Hazelwood neighborhood in what a neighbor described to The Oregonian as suicide by cop.
“Having three so close together may be unprecedented,” a spokeswoman for the Police Bureau told WW via email on Thursday.
This morning, the Police Bureau announced it would not name the officer involved in Wednesday’s shooting, citing threats, including “possible doxxing,” to officers involved. The bureau said it has launched an investigation, and the officer’s name will be revealed once it is completed.
Department policy requires the officer’s identity be released within 24 hours, unless there is a “credible security threat.”
A spokesman for the bureau declined to elaborate on the details of that threat, citing “an ongoing investigation.”
Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch called the decision not to release the officer’s name illogical.
“If they are doxxing the officer and already know the officer’s name, how can they put the officer in any more danger by releasing the number to the public?” he said.
The police were already under intense scrutiny by the public. The Centennial shooting was captured on video by Chris Ponte and posted on YouTube. That night, police responded to a fight between a man and woman. In the video, a woman can be heard screaming “no, no!” while two cops wrestle Worth on the ground, followed by a series of gunshots.
St. Johns and East Portland are both shooting hot spots. The unknown officer who fired in Wednesday’s shooting was a member of the Focused Intervention Team, which was launched earlier this year to address surging gun violence.
Four members of that team were involved in another shooting earlier this year, when they exchanged gunfire with 36-year-old Matthew Leahey during a traffic stop. Leahey was charged with attempted murder.
This latest burst of violence comes as a Multnomah County grand jury declined to pursue criminal charges against two officers in the February killing of 30-year-old Joel Michael Arevalo. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office announced the decision Thursday morning.
According to police, Arevalo did not respond to commands and was suspected in the shooting of a friend. Officers found a gun next to Arevalo after he was shot, the bureau told the Oregon Department of Justice.
Indictments of officers are rare and fraught. After a grand jury indicted Portland Police Officer Corey Budworth for assault of a protester in 2020, all 50 of his teammates on Portland’s special crowd control unit, the Rapid Response Team, resigned.
Mayor Ted Wheeler responded to the latest string of shootings in a tweet, saying, “The number of recent officer-involved shooting incidents—and the violence leading up to each—is alarming.”
Sgt. Aaron Schmautz, president of the city’s police union, blamed understaffing at the Police Bureau when interviewed earlier this week about the killing of Worth. “If we have three or four officers there, that subject may not be so willing to pull out a gun and shoot at police,” he told KGW.
There have been five “officer-involved shootings” so far this year, according to a dashboard on the Portland Police Bureau’s website. Three resulted in deaths.
Last year, there were eight such shootings. For the prior 10 years, there were never more than six.