Mejia grand jury calls witnesses to incident

From the Portland Tribune, April 27, 2001

In the case of Jose Santos Victor Mejia Poot, at least four Spanish-speaking witnesses to the arrest were called to testify before the grand jury on Wednesday. They were Celmi Carrillo, 24; Glendy Cortes, 23; Fredy Interian, 23, and Roger Yah, 21.

Thomas Kossak, assistant manager of the Northeast Portland Plaid Pantry store located directly in front of the bus stop where Mejia was arrested March 30, said he appeared Wednesday but did not testify. He returned on Thursday.

The Spanish-speaking witnesses were a group of friends seated in the back of the bus at the time of the arrest of Mejia, who was fatally shot two days later in a psychiatric hospital. They were acquainted with Mejia because they came from the same area in the Mexican state of Yucatan.

Yah said they told the grand jury they saw five police officers kick, punch and pepper spray Mejia after he had been subdued on the ground.

Yah said he was kept on the witness stand for about 10 minutes and was questioned by an English-speaking attorney Ñ with a translator present. Yah said he was asked, among other things, where he was sitting on the bus and if he could see the arrest clearly from his seat or if the bus door obscured his view.

“We were a little scared and uncomfortable because it was the first time that we’ve done something like this,” Yah said. “But if we don’t do something now, this could happen again.”

Yah said it was the first time he had been questioned about the arrest.