Fatal shooting of Jose Mejia Poot prompts probes on many levels

From the Portland Tribune, April 13, 2001

Several groups are conducting individual investigations into the circumstances surrounding the April 1 shooting death of Jose Santos Victor Mejia Poot at BHC-Pacific Gateway Hospital in the Sellwood neighborhood. However, the scope of the probes and reasons for investigating differ.

The Internal Affairs Division of the Portland Police Bureau decided Tuesday to launch an investigation into the March 30 arrest of Mejia in Northeast Portland.

The Portland Police Bureau’s Sgt. Van Stearns is supervising an investigation into whether officer Jeffrey Bell’s actions were legally justified when he shot Mejia.

The East County Major Crimes Team is working with the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office to investigate “any crimes in connection with his death,” said Norm Frink, chief deputy district attorney. They will present their findings to a Multnomah County grand jury in about two weeks. All officer-involved shootings that result in death are reviewed by a grand jury.

Portland FBI’s White Collar Crime Squad is looking to see whether Mejia’s civil rights were violated under federal law during all of his contacts with police. The squad will present its findings to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Department of Justice. The FBI often investigates cases in which excessive force claims have been made against law enforcement officers.

Multnomah County’s Department of Community and Family Services’ Behavioral Health Division will conduct two investigations:

One, mandated by state law, will determine if abuse or neglect has occurred and whether protective services are needed. Findings will be reported to the state Department of Human Services’ Mental Health and Developmental Disability Services Division.

The other inquiry will review the care and well-being of all patients and staff. The findings will help to assess the county’s contract with the hospital, and to determine whether any changes in the contract are required.