To: Chief Mike Marshman, Portland Police [9/15/16]
District Attorney Rod Underhill, Multnomah County
Chief Marshman and DA Underhill
At the September 7 Citizen Review Committee meeting, two of the three officers representing the Bureau were Jeffrey Bell, the new Captain of Internal Affairs*, and Chris Davis, the Commander of Central Precinct. Not only were these the two officers who shot and killed Jose Victor Santos Mejia Poot in 2001 (inside a psychiatric hospital), but they were awarded Medals of Valor, prompting community outrage. Seeing these two sitting in judgment of officers who escalated a confrontation with a man with mental health issues, including one who discharged his Taser 6 times, made us wonder whether the foxes with blood on their mouths are now guarding the hen house.
Meanwhile, DA Underhill has seen fit to hire out from the Miller Nash law firm one Cody Berne. Berne was one of the officers who followed African American 25-year-old Keaton Otis for driving his mother's Toyota in a hoodie, and one of the three officers who shot and killed Otis. Berne fired 11 times. We have to wonder whether the DA is aware that this ex-police officer prosecutor will be seen as 100% biased toward the police, but especially hope that he will never be assigned to an officer involved shooting, death in custody or serious injury case.
FYI, we were drafting this letter before the Willamette Week published its article in Wednesday's paper:
link to www.wweek.com
It was disappointing to read DA Underhill's defense of hiring someone who will be perceived as racially biased in addition to his violent past.
Please let us know what your plans are to address the distrust your actions of promoting/hiring these individuals brings to the community, particularly communities of color, in this post-Ferguson America.
*-We believe Bell is the 20th IA head in the 24 years we've been monitoring the PPB; Capt. John Brooks' 2-month tenure apparently ended when he became Chief of Police in another jurisdiction.