Deal set in James Jahar Perez police shooting

From the Oregonian, September 3, 2008. Not available elsewhere online.

A $350,000 settlement has been tentatively reached between the city of Portland and the family of a man who was shot and killed by police in 2004.

The proposed deal would end four years of litigation and provide payments into the future for the son and mother of James Jahar Perez, 28, who was fatally shot during a traffic stop.

The settlement must be approved by the Portland City Council, which is scheduled to take up the settlement today.

Mayor Tom Potter issued a statement saying he believed the police officer’s actions were justified.

Still, Potter said, “any loss of life diminishes not only a family and the officers involved, but our entire community. And every death raises old questions of trust between the community and the men and women we have asked to protect us. We must continue working together to break down the stereotypes that keep us from being true partners in building the Portland we all desire. I hope that the settlement will bring closure to the officers and their families and to the family of Mr. Perez.”

Elden M. Rosenthal, the Portland civil rights attorney who represented the Perez family, said he would issue a statement after the City Council approves the settlement.

Portland Officer Jason Sery shot and killed Perez on March 28, 2004. The shooting sparked an outcry. In response, Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk held a rare public inquest after a grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing by the officer.

In August 2004, Sery resigned from the Portland police, saying he wanted to become a minister. Earlier this year, he took a job with the Beaverton police.

The settlement would be among the highest ever paid by the city for a police shooting.

Last year, the city paid $500,000 to the family of Raymond Gwerder, who was shot and killed in 2005 by a police sniper as he talked on the phone to a police negotiator.

In 2003, the city agreed to pay $200,000 to Bruce Browne who was shot and wounded in 2001.

The Perez lawsuit went beyond the shooting and charged that the Portland Police Bureau’s use-of-force policy was unconstitutional.

A federal judge in Portland rejected the challenge, and an appeals court earlier this year said the policy was not unconstitutional as written.

Still, the rulings meant the case against the city could still go to trial on the question of whether the police violated Perez’s constitutional rights.

In 2005, a federal jury in Portland sided with an officer who shot and killed Kendra James during a traffic stop in 2003.