Officers exonerated in Kendra James murder
Police Chief Derrick Foxworth, after reviewing an internal investigation, finds no evidence of misconduct by police after Kendra James' shooting
Saturday, August 07, 2004
Portland Police Chief Derrick Foxworth has found no reason to discipline several officers and two sergeants who faced allegations of misconduct after last year's fatal traffic stop shooting of Kendra James.
After reviewing an internal affairs investigation into seven "post-shooting concerns," Foxworth exonerated the officers on six of them, including a charge that they didn't give James proper medical aid as she lay handcuffed in the street.
On the remaining allegation, Foxworth rebuked two officers involved in the traffic stop, saying they showed poor judgment by meeting for dinner before the grand jury convened, according to records obtained by The Oregonian.
Officers Scott McCollister and Kenneth Reynolds ate together at a Lake Oswego Applebee's restaurant the night after the fatal shooting and before McCollister had been interviewed by detectives.
It was McCollister who fired the shot that killed James, 21, as she tried to drive away from a May 2, 2003, traffic stop on North Skidmore Street .
"Their conduct did impact this organization's credibility and negatively impaired the public's trust in the Police Bureau," Foxworth said in a hand-written memo to the Internal Affairs Division.
But Foxworth also wrote that "we can't conclusively, definitively say" the officers discussed details of the shooting. He made a finding of "inconclusive evidence" on the allegation.
The chief's recent findings close the internal affairs investigation into the shooting, which sparked community outrage, led to former Chief Mark Kroeker's resignation and prompted an on-going review of bureau policies.
James' family is suing the city, McCollister, Reynolds and Officer Rick Bean, who assisted in the traffic stop, for $10 million in U.S. District Court.
Chris Bottoms, one of the James family's Portland attorneys, said he had hoped the three officers would be disciplined but wasn't surprised.
"We didn't have any expectations that police internal affairs would produce anything positive for the James family," he said. "It's like the wolf guarding the henhouse."
The lawsuit contends the three officers failed to provide medical care to James after she was shot.
However, internal affairs investigators found no evidence the officers violated the bureau's directive on emergency medical care. After pulling James from the car, McCollister called for paramedics. He said he found no signs of a gunshot wound and didn't perform emergency resuscitation because he saw her chest rising and falling. He then placed her "in a post-shooting position, patted her down for weapons and secured the area around her, which is consistent with training," according to a report.
Members of the Albina Ministerial Association, who have been outspoken critics of the shooting, said they were baffled.
"They had shot her," said the Rev. T. Allen Bethel, alliance president, "and then to handcuff her and just leave her there. I find that to be not-human treatment."
Bethel said he was equally disappointed by the chief's findings on the restaurant meeting between McCollister and Reynolds.
Although the dinner was planned before the shooting and occurred in the company of the officers' wives and officers not involved in the James traffic stop, "it was highly inappropriate," Bethel said.
According to the internal affairs review, the evidence showed McCollister and Reynolds began to discuss "the emotions connected to the incident" before they were stopped by another officer at the table.
In his June 23 memo to internal affairs, Foxworth said he found "some, albeit minor and small, inconsistent statements in the characterization of the conversation." But he noted that bureau policies prohibited "extensive discussion" of the case, and there was inconclusive evidence of that.
A Multnomah County grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing by McCollister, but Kroeker gave him a 51/2-month unpaid suspension for what he considered tactical mistakes.
Police said investigation into the post-shooting conduct of the officers -- McCollister, Bean, Reynolds, Stephen Endicott, Joshua Faris and Scott Broughton -- stemmed from questions raised during last year's review.
The other allegations ranged from officers leaving the scene without permission and neglecting to collect witnesses' names to inappropriate behavior outside the grand jury room.
Foxworth cleared Sgt. Denney Kelley and Sgt. Frank Gorgone of charges that they didn't write adequate reports and failed to tell officers and witnesses to avoid extensive conversation.
At the same time, Foxworth has ordered supervisors to discuss concerns raised during the investigation with the officers and sergeants.
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