18 years later, Kendra James’ mother wants answers

Civic Affairs

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On May 5, 2003, Kendra James was in the back seat of a car pulled over by Portland police. There was a warrant for her arrest.

After the driver and front seat passenger were removed, police said James — who was 21 — jumped into the front seat and tried to drive away. An officer tried to use a Taser but it didn’t connect.

Kendra James, 21, was shot to death by Portland police on May 5, 2003 (KOIN, file)

Then Officer Scott McCollister pulled the trigger. Kendra James died.

Investigators tried to recreate McCollister’s actions that night. He said he thought he was going to be run over.

“I had fallen back, out towards the open door,” he said at that time.

Now, 18 years later, Shirley Isadore still wants to know why Officer McCollister shot and killed her daughter.

“I like to know why, why would you hurt somebody that’s 97 pounds?” she told KOIN 6 News this week.

Kendra James was a 21-year-old Black woman who was killed by Portland police in 2003 during a traffic stop on the Skidmore overpass. A sign with her name marks the spot where it happened. June 22, 2020 (KOIN)

A grand jury cleared McCollister but the PPB chief at the time, Mark Kroeker, determined McCollister shouldn’t have put himself in the car where he felt he had to fire his gun and suspended him.

“I’m committed to improving the organization anyway I can,” Kroeker said then.

An arbitrator later overturned the discipline.

Shirely Isadore believes her daughter’s actions that night did not justify deadly force. She does not believe Officer McCollister feared for his life.

Shirley Isadore, the mother of Kendra James, still wants to know why her daughter was shot to death in 2003 by a Portland police officer. May 5, 2021 (KOIN)

“No, I don’t. I don’t,” she said.

Kendra’s boys were 3 and 18 months old when she died. They are now 21 and 19 and make Isadore proud as she deals with another year gone.

“I just want some justice and I want some peace,” she said. “I’m never going to get it.”

Last August, Shirley Isadore went to Washington DC for a Black Lives Matter march with family members of other local Black people who died in police encounters.

“I’m just hoping that I could get some peace,” she said. “You know, I need peace in my heart. I haven’t cried in a long time.”

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