Officer Dane Reister, whose ammo mixup seriously injured man, is fired

By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, Oct. 16, 2013

Dane Reister

Dane Reister

Portland Police Chief Mike Reese has fired Officer Dane Reister, citing his unsatisfactory performance when he mistakenly fired lethal rounds from a beanbag shotgun, critically wounding a man in Southwest Portland on June 30, 2011.

READMHAP’s response to shooting

“This has been a long and thorough investigation, which had complexities due to the pending criminal charges,” Reese said in a statement Wednesday. “The events of June 30th devastated the lives of those involved, but we hope that this action will bring some sense of closure.”

The Police Bureau notified Reister of his termination on Tuesday.

“We’re very disappointed in the chief’s decision,” said Reister’s lawyer, Janet Hoffman. “However, we’re confident the union will pursue all grievance procedures.”

Reister, 42, joined the Police Bureau in February 1996. He’s been on paid administrative leave since the shooting. He also faces criminal charges, becoming the first Portland officer ever to face a criminal indictment for force used on duty.

He has pleaded not guilty to third- and fourth-degree assault charges. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office added a negligent wounding charge, which is now being challenged before Oregon’s Court of Appeals.

This past spring, the city of Portland agreed to pay a record $2.3 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed by William Kyle Monroe, the man wounded by Reister. The suit had called for Reister’s firing, but the termination wasn’t part of the settlement agreement.

“This is an appropriate ending to a very sad story,” said Mayor Charlie Hales, who as police commissioner signed Reister’s termination letter. Hales’ office said the firing was the chief’s decision.

The Portland Police Association also is disappointed by the firing and questions whether the chief considered all the appropriate factors, said Officer Daryl Turner, union president.

“We’re looking at the discipline letter with our legal counsel, and we will make a decision on how we move forward next week,” Turner said.

Reister’s gunshots fractured Monroe’s pelvis and punctured his bladder, abdomen and colon. The fourth shot, fired from less than 15 feet away, left a softball-sized hole in his left leg and severed his sciatic nerve. He narrowly escaped bleeding to death because OHSU Hospital was near the shooting scene, his lawyer has said.

Monroe was 20 at the time and diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

According to the settled federal lawsuit, Monroe, who was living with his father in Hillsboro, had intended to drive to Bremerton, Wash., to visit his mother the day before the shooting, but became disoriented and was suffering from paranoid mania.

He ended up in Lair Hill Park the next morning, where children from a day camp were playing. Monroe pulled discarded flowers out of a park garbage bin and tossed them near the children. Camp supervisors told Monroe to leave the park. Police received two 911 calls from camp officials. The camp director said in the second call that Monroe may have a pocket knife up his sleeve.

Reister responded to the call. He spotted Monroe on Southwest Naito Parkway, commanded him to stop and get down on his knees with his hands behind his head. Reister asked Monroe if he had any weapons, and Monroe emptied his pockets, discarding his miniature Swiss Army knife, the suit says. Monroe put his hands behind his head, but asked why he should get on his knees. Reister described Monroe as “highly agitated,” and grabbed his beanbag shotgun from his car, and two more officers arrived.

Monroe assured police he hadn’t done anything wrong as he backed away and then began running and yelled for help. Without warning, the suit says, Reister chased after Monroe and fired five times, emptying his gun. The fifth round jammed because of Reister’s “excessively rapid firing,” the suit says.

In court filings, Reister admitted misloading his less-lethal shotgun, which he had checked out that morning from Central Precinct’s armory. He said he carried the shotgun across the street to the dark basement of the parking garage on Southwest Second Avenue, found his duty bag there – which contained both lethal and non-lethal ammunition in it — and then walked to his car and mistakenly loaded the beanbag shotgun with lethal rounds.

The day after the shooting, Reese and then-Mayor Sam Adams called the shooting a “tragic mistake.”

Four months after the shooting, as Reister’s lawyer argued in court that her client’s mistake was partly due to the Police Bureau’s negligent and inadequate policies, the police chief issued a new policy. It required that beanbag ammunition be stored only in a carrier attached to the side or stock of the orange-painted, 12-gauge beanbag shotguns.

Five years earlier, Reister mistakenly fired a loaded riot-suppression launcher during training, injuring an officer posing as a protester with a smoke round.

Reister is the second officer that Reese has fired for their use of force. Last year, the chief fired Officer Ron Frashour, concluding that his fatal shooting of Aaron Campbell on Jan. 29, 2010, wasn’t justified because Campbell didn’t pose an immediate threat. An arbitrator, though, ordered Frashour back to work. Last fall, Mayor Adams reinstated Frashour, paid him nearly two years of back pay and placed him on paid leave while the city appeals the arbitrator’s ruling to the Oregon Court of Appeals.