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Monday, March 20, 2006

The night they shot Squeaky

The Oregonian waited until a Saturday, when readership is always down, to run a Maxine Bernstein story about the internal investigation into the fatal shooting by Portland police of Dennis "Squeaky" Young on Jan. 4. In case you missed it, here are some highlights:

The police officer who fired the fatal shot or shots "said he feared the car was going to run him down. 'There was no avenue of escape,' Kaer told detectives. 'There was no place to go.'"

The other officer on the scene "didn't think it was going to hit him, and he was unsure where Kaer was standing when the shots were fired. 'From my position, I didn't feel that I was going to get hit by the car,' Keller said. 'My mind was starting to think, you know, to back up, get out of the street.'"

The officer who fired the fatal shot "did not alert anyone in East Precinct, which handles that area, before he headed to check out the suspicious car, according to interviews with detectives. Kaer didn't tell a dispatcher by police radio or his mobile computer terminal where he was headed." He was responding to a call that came to him personally from his sister, who lived where Young was parked in a car in the middle of the night.

Nor had the officer run a check on the plates of the car Young was driving to see if it had been stolen, although the officer asked him whether it was stolen when Young revealed that it was running without keys.

The officer's sister's story reportedly changed shortly after the shooting:

Brenda Kotsovos, also interviewed by detectives, said she watched her brother's encounter with the suspicious driver from her dining room window. In her first interview the day of the shooting, she said the Oldsmobile Cutlass struck the tree, then rocked back and forth. Two days later, the sister called detectives back, saying she had remembered further information, that the car reversed rapidly.
Is that all there is? We've noted here before that Portland police regulations, although poorly drafted in at least one key respect, do clearly require that officers get out of harm's way rather than fire at a moving vehicle. The story does not express an opinion as to whether those regulations were obeyed in this case, or whether any disciplinary action is still pending.

Perhaps the dead man's family will bring a legal claim against the city. The $10 million claim arising out of the police shooting of James Jahar Perez two years ago was, at last report, still pending.

Comments (6)

Nice job, Jack. Just when i've thought you've gone off the deep end, you bring the focus back. Thanks!

Doesn't much matter anyway. D.A. Schrunk will protect the officer no matter what.

Maybe it will have some didactic value for the rest of Portland's multiple offense car thieves and tweakers: if a cop knocks on the window of your stolen car, the correct response is to turn the ignition off and put your hands on top of the wheel.

If you hit the gas, you may not live to regret it.

Slumber, cop disturb
Gas-n-go mighty maple
Tweaker twitch no more

As Andy Grove wrote: "only the paranoid survive." When I first read the initial news story, something smelled...."sister of the officer"...."responding from outside the area"....etc etc. First thought, and one that sticks with me: was it a setup?

And now the internal investigation and still no answers.

Still smells.

Is that Squeeky from Nonny's and Squeeky's. I thought he was dead years ago!

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