...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004
      ( 1:35 PM )
Atrocities in Portland

Once again, in less than a year, a little north of my neighborhood, a Portland police officer has shot and killed an unarmed African American at a traffic stop.

Police said the motorist refused to produce a driver's
license or get out of the car once he was pulled over
for failing to signal a turn in North Portland.

North Precinct Officer Jason Sery, 29, shot James
Jahar Perez three times in the chest with a 9 mm
handgun, police said. Sery fired after his partner, North
Precinct Officer Sean Macomber, 30, had grabbed
Perez's arm and was trying to remove him from the
front seat of a four-door car, according to a preliminary
police investigation.

Once again, police used deadly force at a traffic stop. Okay, the guy didn't have his drivers license. Okay, maybe he was refusing to cooperate. They pulled him over for supposedly "failing to signal a turn." More likely, he was pulled over for DWB (driving while black). This shooting comes less than a year after a Portland cop shot and killed 21-year old, mother of 2, Kendra James at a traffic stop in the same neighborhood. She wasn't armed either.

A call has been made, by even Portland's mayor, Vera Katz, to have a public investigation into the matter, and not a secret grand jury hearing, as was done in Kendra James' shooting. As our Beloved B!x reports, of course the police union is totally against a public inquiry.

What is going ON?!?!?! Our neighbor called the cops the other night when, at midnight, cars were screeching down our back alley, crashing into each other. This was both disturbing the neighborhood peace and causing possible danger for residents. The cops didn't come. She called again. They finally came. Too late to do anything. Yet, here once again, they use deadly force at a traffic stop. I just don't get it. What are their priorities as cops? I was willing to listen to their side of the story when the inquiry into Kendra James' shooting took place. I have to admit that I am not so willing to listen or believe anything the cops say about this incident.

We have a new police chief, not in small part due to the handling of the Kendra James case last year. But having a new chief hasn't seemed to change the general behavior of the cops. The two involved in the shooting of Mr. Perez are under 30 years old, though the bureau says they are "5-year veterans." So that means they've been carrying guns and doing police stuff since they were 25. I'm sorry, that doesn't give me a whole lot of confidence in their ability to maturely handle tough situations.

We just had a huge investigation by a local weekly about our police's over-zealous use of tazers. Evidently, a tazer was used in this situation. The guy was pulled over for not signalling, for godsake! Even if he was resisting cooperating, even if he didn't have his driver's license on him - what in heaven's name could have provoked shooting him to death?

I am heartbroken for his family, for my neighborhood, and for my city. If the cops aren't getting trained in how to handle situations like traffic stops without deadly force, even when they may escalate into confrontations, then what good are they as peace officers? It's getting harder and harder for me to want to tell my kid that cops are there to help us.

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