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Saturday, May 15, 2010

The new dead guy

The Portland police finally got around to telling us who it was they shot to death on Wednesday evening. It was Keaton Dupree Otis, a 25-year-old black man with mental illness. The family has released a brief statement that does not challenge the police's version of the killing, but does not completely affirm it, either.

There has been no mention of drugs, a criminal record, gangs, or even alcohol, and given the police's pattern in incidents of this type, you can bet that if they had any evidence of that, we would have heard about it by now.

The police say Otis was being pulled over for alleged traffic infractions when he refused to stop. Something about not signaling properly when turning -- the same story that set the scene for the James Jahar Perez killing several years ago. Did the driver's race have anything to do with it?

An amateur videotape of the incident shows many, many shots being fired -- dozens. A police officer was shot in the leg, but was it from a gun fired by Otis? Some are asking whether it could have been "friendly fire" from another police officer's gun. Bullets were flying all over the place -- one reportedly wound up in a Radio Shack more than a block away. There are lots of apartments nearby; were other neighbors needlessly endangered?

Did the police actually wait until Otis shot at them before killing him? They say so, but under their training policy of "By the time you see the gun, you're dead," they would have fired even before it reached that point. That is what happened in the case of Perez, who it turned out was not armed.

One hopes that the official version of this event turns out to be accurate, and can be proven beyond all doubt. Because given the recent track record of the Portland police, there are more bullets in the air these days than trust.

Comments (17)

I smell another 3-year coverup, er I mean "investigation" (wink wink).
Shall we start a pool on how long before Creepy hands off the PPB again?

Educated, caring parents. Friends who knew him as a normal guy before mental illness. Non-functional mental health system. Dead body on the sidewalk.

Obviously the family tried to get him treated and presumably ultimately had to try civil commitment in Multnomah County. Did Multnomah County fail here? All depends on the timing perhaps. There would have been petitions, investigations and a hearing or not, all under the auspice of Multnomah County. Right?

The quote from the article to which you link, Jack, tells me who the parents look to for an apology.

"Felesia and Joseph Otis indicated in a statement that they wanted to get help for their son, but were stymied by "limited options and restrictive laws preventing families from intervening earlier."

"It is his progressive illness is what has us here today. ... In the future we want to expand the law's definition of harm to self or others for a civil commitment to include additional significant symptoms," they said in a statement."

"The police say Otis was being pulled over for alleged traffic infractions when he refused to stop."

What I don't understand was how, after only driving a couple of blocks and not stopping as directed, the PPB had three cars box him in.

If I ignore the police car (for two blocks) who wants to ticket me for an improper lane change, would I get three cars to corral me in, in the 60 seconds it would take to go two blocks? Does PPB really have that many cruisers just trolling traffic for bad lane changers?

Many unanswered questions....

Harry- It was reported that it was PPB's HEAT team that first was involved and made the traffic stop, so yes they would have had two or three cars within a small area, as they work together. They focus on "hot spots" for gang problems and other issues, and the Lloyd Center area has seen a ton of drug and gang activity over the past few years.

I tend to believe PPB's story so far, but time will tell. The video is pretty cruddy, but you can hear a couple of shots than see/hear the officers response. I think the blame on this shooting (and many of the others) is on the mental health system.

I hate to say it, but if the guy pulled a gun and aimed towards the officers he got what he deserved, whether he was ill or not. Luckily this time the officer didn't die.

Were I a black man, I would run like hell every time I saw a Portland cop. It is so hilarious to hear the "City leaders" decrying Arizona's "racial profiling" immigration law, while continuing to send Portland's finest out to the streets each day to shoot people for driving-while-black.

There is a theme to these recent shootings, and it's not that the police are wrong. It's that the person who is killed has mental problems and has a weapon.

I don't know what we thought would happen when we shut down residential treatment facilities for the mentally ill, but this sort of result was predictable. The fundamental problem is that we as a society have decided we no longer want to pay for long-term residential psychiatric care.

Let's stop jumping on the cops for making split-second life/death decisions that none of us would want to make. And, please, let's stop with the paranoic footsteps. Instead, let's look in a collective mirror at the deliberate funding decisions we've made that have produced this dangerous stew.

This is the first one they've killed in a long time who actually (allegedly) had a gun. In Portland, the crazy people with guns are the ones wearing blue uniforms.

PPB might as well give up now, they're skunked. No more enforcement activity or interactions with the non-white population. If an officer walks up on a traffic stop and sees the violator doesn't look like himself, turn around and walk away. If an officer responds to a call and there is a person involved who isn't white, they need to call for the appropriate race of officer to come deal with the call. If there's a call involving a mentally ill person, only a mentally ill officer can respond.

I hate to say it, but if the guy pulled a gun and aimed towards the officers he got what he deserved, whether he was ill or not.
You don't hate to say it, and deserve has got nothing to do with it.


How is life in your alternate universe? Do the policemen really ride unicorns and subdue mentally ill/distraught/violent ciitizens with rainbows?

It sounds like a beautiful place, Utopian almost. You're very lucky to have such a nice place to live.

How did your society persuade those with Bi-polar to take their meds? How did you get the homeless drug addicts/drunks to get clean? How did you get rid of violent gang activity?

Of these 40 some rounds flying around from police weapons, how many came from Humphries?

Why haven't the cops revealed what kind of gun Otis had or how he obtained it?

For all the promises of transparency, something doesn't smell right here.

Here's a plausible explanation for the audio of the shooting, in which you hear a quick shot, then a barrage of bullets: One of the officers drew his weapon and it accidentally discharged, hitting Burley in the groin. (It could have been Burley himself -- the groin is the easiest place to accidentally shoot yourself.) The other officers, thinking Otis had a gun, open fire, killing him.

Given Portland's abysmal record of transparency in other shootings, you'd have to consider that a possibility until someone produces the weapon and bullets that hit Burley.

where's the gun??????

This does not feel right to me.

The HEAT team is out cruising...spies a DWB man alone in car....follows him. He gets nervous and makes bad turns.....suddenly he is surrounded by three unmarked cars ..(he must have thought, "what the F--K!" and resists getting out..

then he gets tased twice..and then he "reaches for a gun and shoots...." ok, so it is established that he was moody...so am I..over this! Where's the gun??????

what do the ballistics show about the bullets in the officer's leg.?

They sure do seem to shoot a lot of "mentally ill" people. Its kinda scary that there seem to be so many of them roaming our streets unattended.

Once the forensics team does their work on this it might take an FOIFA request to find out anything. And from what I once heard from a friend trained in forensics on the East Coast the PPB's team at that time (about 6 years ago) were pretty amateur hour and making mistakes right and left. Including at the time allowing a news team on scene to tape them. I am more than sure there will be all kinds of stonewalling if the bullet in Burley originated from a PPB weapon, especially his own. They wouldn't want to look like the Keystone cops or anything.


I can understand some of your criticism of the police as of late. This case, however, was a justified shooting. Sure they boxed him in. I am sure he was wearing gang banger like clothing and probably resembled a gang banger. There are two facts that are the elepahnt in the room:

1. He refused to pull over.

This lead the police to belive something was up. Had he been white, the same procedure would have been followed. So therefor they called for backup. And boy, weren't their instincts correct? Rememer, they tried non lethal force first, and that decision alone could have cotst the life of the cop. But that probably doesn't matter to you, it seems you would have had the cop die and this poor victim live. This leads me to the second FACT:

He was illigally posessing a gun, AND, AND Jack, he used it against a cop. Doesn't this cop have a right to protect himself? He took two bullets before they fired back. And who cares if they fired 40 or 100 times. The point is to neutralize the threat. You absolutely cannot be a monday morning QB in this case. I am sure the most dangerous situation or scariest situation you've ever been in was getting in a fender bender. Before you critize, and start with the whole BS victim mentality bit, I suggest you do some ride alongs with the police. Jack, you're right on about most things, but once in a while you're totally irrational.

It is very sad this happened. It's unfortunate a young man was mentally ill. We do need to do more for our mentally ill. But until we do, you cannot jump all over the police who's job is to keep the peace, enforce the law while making sure they go home to their families alive. Someday maybe we cn help the mentally ill better, provided the ACLU doesn't sue.

He was illigally posessing a gun, AND, AND Jack, he used it against a cop.

Show me his gun, and show me that the bullets came from his gun. Some people have suggested that the bullets could have come from another cop's gun, or from the wounded cop's own gun.

I haven't accused anybody of anything. I'm just asking questions about this incident. So far the PoPo, who are proven liars in this kind of situation, haven't answered. As I said, I hope that their version of the story turns out to be true. I wouldn't bet on it, however. They're simply not trustworthy.

As for all your words about me personally, please know that that is why you won't be posting here any more.

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