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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

City of Secrets

About 13 hours ago, the Portland police shot and killed a man in the city's Washington Park, at Hoyt Arboretum. A witness reports hearing four shots being fired. It was the middle of a nice afternoon at the start of spring break, and the park was full of people enjoying the day, until they had to run for their lives.

Here it is 13 hours later, and we know nothing more than that. We don't know why the police were called, other than that there was "a disturbance." We don't know who the dead man was. We don't know whether he was armed, although there are rumors that he had a knife. We don't know who the police officer or officers are who killed him. We don't know why they shot, and specifically why they shot to kill, four times.

It's 13 hour later. The police have doubtlessly been up half the night lining up all their ducks, cross-checking whatever their story is going to be this time. Shouldn't we know more than what we do about this by now? Why isn't the media screaming bloody murder?

UPDATE, 10:10 a.m.: We're up to 19 hours now, and now we're told that the police chief is going to have a press conference at 11:30 a.m. Sounds as though the official story on this one is going to be fairly elaborate.

Comments (62)

Forget it, Jack. It's Stumptown.

Maybe it was a PDC whistle blower being hushed up.

Can't the cops be trained to not kill people at 3 pm in a public park?
Geeze this is getting to be really scary.

I just left this comment on an Oregonian story about the shooting:

It's ridiculous that the Portland Police Bureau is taking an entire day to release any details about the killing. This makes it look -- and probably it's true -- that they're more concerned with getting their story straight than serving the public interest.

"Protect and serve." Question is: who is the PPB protecting, and who are they serving? I'd say, not the public. It's also disturbing that the Oregonian is so passive, apparently meekly taking whatever info the PPB dishes out rather than doing any independent reporting.

Can't the cops be trained to not kill people...

The answer is quite simple - yes they can. But until there's a media that cares to report facts instead of parroting out the party line, a true police oversight board that can investigate at arm's length and subpeona witnesses, a DA's office that will investigate and prosecute officer committed crimes, a city council that isn't afraid of the police union, and a citizenry that really cares, it won't happen.

And sadly, this sort of thing will happen again.

It is wrong and so obvious that they are spending all this time with their "story".

what ever happened to free press and the right to know.

who did they kill now...and why?

Asking what happened at the arboretum, reminds me of asking when we eat?

asking the cops why it takes time for facts to be released is reasonable, although i doubt you would be satisfied with the answer that you would get about the investigative process.

On television shows, the police claim they're not releasing information until they've informed the family of the death. Any chance this is the explanation?

I admit that I've watched a few live cop shows. These cops from other states and countries are shown apprehending sometimes violent and aggressive people that frankly probably would have been shot at had it been Portland. Portland Police are trained to kill, if they pull the trigger they are applying deadly force.

Scott Westermann is already out in front of this releasing information to the Tribune and KPAM. He said the man had a knife ("I have seen it") and that the police officer was in "full retreat". Nice work Scott, way to set the stage. Why is Westermann given access to the investigation?

I have heard that they don't have positive ID, so next of kin have not been notified. But I agree with Jack, they are in full dress rehersal for their performance in front of the grand jury. Sad to know that they can shoot a guy with a knife (at 20-30 feet away I guess) with two shots, then pause and then finish him off with two more shots. A knife versus a cop with a semi-auto handgun. But PPB are always innocent.

Tueller's drill

Personal Safety Expert Professor Arthur Cohen introduced me to the concept known as Tueller's drill. It is a drill which shows that most people can cover 21 feet in about 1.5 seconds.

Sgt. Dennis Tueller of Salt Lake City Police Department conducted experiments which let to the conclusion that an attacker with a knife in his hand covers 21 feet in 1.5 seconds. Therefore anything under 21 feet is considered to be in the zone of "imminent danger of death or great bodily harm."

In other words a person with a knife or any edged weapon is a direct and imminent threat to you if that person is within 21 feet (7 yards).

Research shows that a person with a knife who is closer than 7 yards can stab or cut you before you can stop them with a gun.

Most police officers, even with the gun already in hand, cannot hit a target twice before the "assailant" can cover 10 yards.

You're a real font of police propaganda, aren't you? Isn't there an episode of "Matlock" you're missing?

rumor has it that they're trying to locate the "unknown individual" that happened to be
nearby with a cellphone and recorded it all and then took a dash down the trail as the other copters arrived. they want this film footage and may hope to intimidate the citizen from sharing what they have, as it's needed for the "official investigation" (get it? wink! wink!)

If you know the person with the video, tell them we'd love to host it.

Maybe we need a PPB Youtube channel?

The reaction time from recognition to action is about 3/4 second. I really am doubtful, particularly when at least 2 officers would likely have the suspect covered, that a shot or two from a Glock would not be rendered. If the suspect is hit, he would not continue running but be thrown back, or other reaction to the energy of the bullet.

Besides, where is the suspect going to actually stab the officer with any deadly results? The wear body armor.

The employment application test used by the City of Portland Police Department should work to exclude all persons seeking the job for personal or financial reasons.

Being cursed to it would be appropriate and acceptable.


Real life isn't like the movies. Getting shot doesn't send you flying backwards. Check out the tv show Mythbusters for the proof.

They wear ballistic body armor which stops some bullets. It has NO effect on knives.

Still nothing from PC Rosie-fingered Sizer? Has it not dawned upon her that she reigns over the wine-dark secrets? No progress since this:

There is a classic photo from WWI by Robert Capa clearly showing a soldier at the moment of being shot throwing his rifle back and flying backwards:

It's Physics: Action- reaction.

You have a point about knife protection, but some vests do offer extra protection. They all offer some protection, especially if it's a slashing attack.

What Portland uses I don't know.

Most police officers, even with the gun already in hand, cannot hit a target twice before the "assailant" can cover 10 yards.

That's presumably the reason they had to shoot Aaron Campbell in the back.

Now we know the person charged at the office with a knife. So what was the officer supposed to do, freeze time with their super powers and disarm him?

Remember, if an officer sees the knife, it's too late.

On Channel 12's website, it is reported that the deceased not only had a knife, but emerged from a bathroom covered with blood. Suicide by PPB? Crazy guy? Drugs/alcohol? And it does seem interesting that they'be put the call out for witnesses who left before they could be interviewed. They were probably worried about being shot and decided to skedaddle out of there.

Lawrence - That Capa 'Falling Soldier" photo is from 1936, the era of the Spanish Civil War, not WW1, and most serious folks who have investigated it have concluded that Capa staged it. It's probably fake. So much for this demonstration of Newton's Laws.

The video, if it exists, may cast some light.

Whose blood was on the dead man? His own? Someone else's?

Perhaps there is a victim of a knife attack lying dead in a Washington Park squat?

Lawrence - That Capa 'Falling Soldier" photo is from 1936, the era of the Spanish Civil War, not WW1, and most serious folks who have investigated it have concluded that Capa staged it.

Oh, I don't know about that. From PBS's "American Masters":

The allegation that Capa had posed his photograph was first made by O.D. Gallagher.... Gallagher told Phillip Knightley ... that “at one stage of the war he and Capa were sharing a hotel room.” (Knightley does not tell us where or when during the war Gallagher had shared a room with Capa.)


In any case, it is possible to document Capa’s travels in Spain between the outbreak of the civil war and the first publication of his photograph; he was never anywhere within several hundred miles of San Sebastián. Gallagher probably did share a room near San Sebastián with a photographer who made pictures of posed exercises, but that photographer was certainly not Capa. Nearly forty years after the events, Gallagher’s memory had clearly played a trick on him. No doubt in perfectly good faith he confused Capa with someone else with whom he had shared a hotel room there in 1936. There is no evidence that Gallagher and Capa ever met before January 1939, when they were both staying in the Hotel Majestic in Barcelona.


There can be no further doubt that The Falling Soldier is a photograph of Federico Borrell García at the moment of his death during the battle at Cerro Muriano on September 5, 1936. May the slanderous controversy that has plagued Robert Capa’s reputation for more than twenty-five years now, at last, come to an end with a verdict decisively in favor of Capa’s integrity. It is time to let both Capa and Borrell rest in peace, and to acclaim The Falling Soldier once again as an unquestioned masterpiece of photojournalism and as perhaps the greatest war photograph ever made.

An X-ACTO knife?

Derrelplant - That was Whelan's conclusion in 1995. The discussion continues, and a 2007 Spanish documentary found an alleged eyewitness who said he saw the 'victim' die behind a tree (no tree in Capa's shot) 35km away. See, for example:

The fact that the guy shows up happy & alive on Capa's contact sheet in frames numbered after the famous shot also speaks for a fake. But the fakery is not my main point - the allegation of Newtonian laws blowing a gunshot victim backwards violently was. A shot capable of knocking the guy back five feet would have done even more to the guy firing the gun, even if the bullet did not go through the victim (thus not transferring all of the kinetic energy.) But both are small points & I have no time to debate them with monomaniacs. I'm sorry the PDX guy is dead, but at least he seems to have been white, so we'll be spared the parade of dubious characters claiming Blacks are singled out - The cops are equal-opportunity shooters, and they are not always in the wrong. The delay in releasing info & privileged access for Cop union folks is ridiculous, though, & feeds the anti-Cop frenzy.

"Besides, where is the suspect going to actually stab the officer with any deadly results? They wear body armor"

Yes they do. Kevlar on the upper torso. Body armor is worn under the uniform shirt. It does not protect the jugular vein, the lower femoral artery, major arteries in the wrist,or the eyes. A blade is a blade. It cuts stuff.

Right. The officer had to kill him because his Exacto knife was so dangerous at 20 feet.

Yet another execution of a distraught mentally disabled person who posed no real threat, which we will again be told was in full conformance to PPB policy and training.

Sign the recall!

"If the suspect is hit, he would not continue running but be thrown back, or other reaction to the energy of the bullet".

Thats a good one. Talk about too much tv.

There may not be a great number of police officers killed by knives in any given year, but there are a significant number of officers killed with their own firearms after being overpowered by a deranged or angry suspect who came after the officer.

has anyone done a dig on Officer Jason Walters yet? The killer of unknown man (the
would-be X-Acto Knife Killer, as labeled by the cops!) surely has a background worth the digging. Never know what nuggets are found till ya dig. I'm going to do a Google on him now...

"An X-ACTO knife?"

Yeah, and I have know several people who are missing the tips of their fingers due to x acto knives. They can do a lot of damage really fast.

However the final result of the dissipation of kinetic energy turns out, it has to be accounted for, perhaps slowing down the forward motion or stopping it altogether. The Fallen Soldier may have been off balance, the energy exacerbating the effect of the shot.

At any rate Newton still holds. The devil is in the details.

Oh, you could certainly do some damage with an X-ACTO knife — used them for a quarter century of graphics arts work — and you could probably plunge one of the ones with a thin handle in several inches in short order. But it's not what I'd choose for an attack weapon.

...there are a significant number of officers killed with their own firearms after being overpowered by a deranged or angry suspect who came after the officer.

I keep hearing this used as a justification for officers having to shoot people before they get close enough to take their guns, but it's starting to sound like it might not be safer to just have the cops not carry guns if their only option for controlling a suspect is shooting them.

Nobody should suggest the cop isn't allowed to defend himself against an aggressive person looking to cause injury, but WTF ... they didn't have a beanbag gun like the officer on the MAX platform? They didn't have a car to climb back into (presumably with the windows rolled up)? They couldn't shoot the guy in the legs or hit him with a nightstick?

The fact that the guy shows up happy & alive on Capa's contact sheet in frames numbered after the famous shot...

Tis claim by Weston is based on a memory of his having seen the sheet at some distant time in the past and not on a copy of anything that's publicly available or verifiable. Not really much of a "fact."

Fake or real, the picture doesn't show someone being "thrown back" by a shot as the original person who brought it up claimed. The guy's just falling backward.

Lawrence - This repetition is getting boring - if a .30-'06 bullet goes through someone (say 180 grains, c. 2,900 ft-lb), most of its kinetic energy flies off with it, & victim falls whichever direction his CG + inertia dictate. Even if stopped by bone in the body, it won't knock the guy five feet, for the same reason the guy pulling the trigger didn't get knocked back five feet when he fired. At this scale, Newton rules, & the facts are in the formulas. Now, why are we having this discussion? I'm going out on the patio for a beer.

(At the risk of prolonging this, I will admit that when I was young & even more foolish, I had been told that a pilot of a P-47 firing a burst from the aircraft's 8 - .50 caliber machine guns would experience a loss of 5 kts IAS. I later came to know an ex-Jug pilot who said he'd experienced no such speed loss, but he knew from experience that such a burst would drop a Japanese General at a latrine. "Drop" was his word, not "knock into the next prefecture," but I bet the bullets went right through with minimal transfer of kinetic energy. For what it's worth, he said they were told that a prolonged burst of all 8 .50s in the top 1/3 of an empty boxcar might derail the car, but he never tried it under controlled circumstances, or otherwise. And that's far more firepower & energy than the most macho cop has access to.)

"Maybe it was a PDC whistle blower being hushed up."

Sam's just happy they didn't catch him walking out of the bathroom with the guy.

The cop isn't shooting at boxcars.

The Spainiard is falling backward after being shot, ok? Maybe he was thrown back. Maybe not. I did a swag on that photo. The bottom line is "sensitive dependence on initial conditions".

Right. Boring. Ferget it.

"The Spainiard [sic] is falling backward after being shot, ok?"

Ooooh! Is Big Lawrence going to beat me up if I don't agree about some Commie's 70-year old photo? I'm shaking in my boots! Jeez - Get a Life. (And maybe learn some physics. Or spelling.) A Swag???

Its not like this dude was a productive member of society... He should of known not to bring a knife to a gunfight.....

I don't care if you agree or not. And the photo is 73+ years old. Do your math.

SWAG : Scientific Wild-*ss*d Guess.

Look it up.

I see no evidence that supports his being a "Commie":

I'm sure the dude wasn't expecting a gunfight.

Funny how some constantly complain about the police, but those same complainers would not hesitate to call the police if their lives or friends and families were in danger.....

Really? If someone I knew was in the midst of a serious mental health crisis, the LAST THING I WOULD DO is call the Portland police. They don't know what they're doing and would probably kill the person in trouble.

Funny how some constantly complain about the police, but those same complainers would not hesitate to call the police if their lives or friends and families were in danger.

Last I looked, the Portland Police had a monopoly racket going. So I would call them only because I have no other choices, not because they are my preferred service provider.

And the fact that people still call them is no reason to not expect better of them.

For those making fun of "its an X-acto knife", I'm in the business of using their products. There are several forms, from the small pencil type with numerous types of blades that can be inserted to the wood handle kind (more of an mat cutting instrument) with a 4" blade. All of them I wouldn't want to deal with, and can critically wound and kill someone. Some of my friends in the boat building business do serious wood cutting of hardwoods with X-acto knives. Don't think X-actos are a pen knife. Plus, it wasn't so long ago that a violent killing occurred using even a pen knife.

We're making big progress in accuracy - moving from mislabeling the Capa photo as WW1, to nitpicking a seven-decade rounding to "73+ years - do the math," and all in one short evening. And if Wikipedia doesn't say so, well, it just can't be so! "SWAG" sounds like such a sound system on the face of it, I see no need to look it up. This new approach to history sounds a lot easier than that old, fact-based one. I'm sure these new techniques will be useful in sorting out the Police incident. Thanks!

I labeled it as WWII, or so I thought.

Typo, fella, typo. I back space frequently.

As for Capa, I have strong reasons to believe Wiki and American Masters and not you. This isn't the place to go into it.

I'm done here with this OT.

I have ZERO sympathy for someone who charges at a cop with a knife, no matter the size. Based on the facts known so far, the guy deserved to get shot. I feel bad for his family but what happened was completely within his control. If he wanted to live, he should have obeyed the cop and not charged after him. If he had done that, he would be alive...pure and simple.

Yet another execution of a distraught mentally disabled person who posed no real threat,

The report says he was covered in blood. He was a threat to someone.

The police union has to realize that their insistence on a day or longer to get the story straight only feeds the suspicion that they are out of control & their behavior can't stand daylight. In some cases it clearly can't, but good cops will suffer needlessly because of these tactics.

Just like Chasse and Campbell, Poot, James, etc, etc, the idea that this guy was so immanently dangerous that he had to be killed is ridiculous. We all know that 99 out of 100 experienced bartenders could have talked this guy into an ambulance. It is not asking too much of our armed peace keepers and protectors to demonstrate crisis response skills at least as good as a bartender.

The Capa Photo was the Spanish Civil War, not WWI.

Don't know if that was already pointed out.

but good cops will suffer needlessly because of these tactics.

There are good ones? Interesting, everyone seems to be lumping them all together.

the idea that this guy was so immanently dangerous that he had to be killed is ridiculous.

You really think that's what was going through the cops' minds? They HAD to die?

Thanks, Jennifer - I had pointed that out in my post, which appears two posts above yours, but that part was edited out by the Keeper, to protect the tender feelings of Lawrence.

By the way, speaking of photographic reality, if you haven't viewed the image obtained from "[a] search of the state court database" and described as "a snapshot of a man," then you really should pause and do so immediately:

As you said, not a snapshot, but an extraordinary portrait.

Worthy of an Arnold Newman or a Richard Avedon.

Thanks for the link.


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Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 113
At this date last year: 155
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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