Police Review Board: No Discipline in Death of Keaton Otis

From the Portland Mercury, January 10, 2012

It’s tucked all the way at the end of the latest (and still unceremoniously quiet) release of Police Review Board reports: After a meeting last fall, the discipline panel — which reviews cases and advises Chief Mike Reese on punishment — overwhelmingly found every aspect of the May 2010 police shooting of Keaton Otis “within policy.”

READ – Police Review Board untitled set of documents, released January 12, 2012 & redacted

Otis’ death, you’ll remember, was steeped in controversy. Otis, a young African-American suffering from mental illness, was stopped by gang enforcement officers who thought he looked suspicious because he was slouching in his car. Otis was Tasered and shot dead, amid an eruption of gunfire that left an officer injured (with The Skanner wondering, at one point, whether that injury was from friendly fire). Then, in an awful turn, Otis’ body, lying on the road, was hit three times with a bean bag shotgun.

The shooting came the very first day Reese took over as chief, and it will be Reese who will ultimately decide if any discipline may yet be meted out, despite the review board’s nearly unanimous recommendation against it. Only one member raised any formal blemish, questioning whether shooting Otis’ body with a bean bag gun was excessive. General questions also were raised about documentation of witness interviews.

The board did, however, recommend that the bureau use the case as a training exercise.

Otis’ case wasn’t the only prominent one contained in the reports.

The latest packet, the second ever, also includes scathing review board filings recommending discipline for Sergeant Kyle Nice, sued over a 2010 pistol-waving road-rage incident; Officer Scott Westerman, the former union president fired last summer after he was accused of lying to investigators probing a pair of road-rage incidents involving the same woman; two off-duty officers who enjoyed free “private dances” at a strip club they usually patrol on-duty; officers involved in DUIIs; and officers who crashed their service cars.

READ – Police Review Board: No Discipline Recommended in Shooting of Jack Dale Collins, Mercury July 13, 2011