PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Questions have been raised about why it took the Portland Police Bureau 6 days to release the name of the person who was shot by an officer after he reportedly robbed a bank and a check cashing store.
On Wednesday, The Oregonian/OregonLive Editorial Board published the opinion: “A disappointing start for Chief Outlaw: Editorial Agenda 2017.” The article states that information about an Oct. 25 officer-involved shooting – involving a potentially unarmed individual — “has been limited.”
On Tuesday, 6 days after the shooting, the police bureau publicly identified Chase A. Peeples as the individual responsible for the Oct. 25 robberies that occurred at the Ace Check Cashing and U.S. Bank in North Portland.
The bureau released the name of the involved officer on Oct. 26 — one day after the shooting.
Officer Ryan Reagan, a 19-year-veteran of the force, remains on paid leave, which is standard following any use of deadly force.
Peeples, meanwhile, remains at a hospital. In a statement released Tuesday, Sgt. Chris Burley, a police spokesperson, said that Peeples is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Typically, police wait to release the names of officers and suspects in officer-involved shootings until at least 24 hours following the incident, or until the suspect is formally charged, which triggers a set of legal requirements for prosecutors.
Burley, speaking with KOIN 6 News Wednesday, said that “this incident is a little different than other incidents.”
Officials said there are multiple investigations into what happened on Oct. 25, and that those investigations are simultaneously occurring. Because a federally insured bank was robbed, the FBI is involved. The robbery at the check cashing store is being investigated by detectives assigned to the PPB Robbery Detail. Homicide detectives and officers assigned to the East County Major Crimes Team, meanwhile, are investigating Officer Reagan’s use of deadly force.
Burley said investigators were unable to immediately release Peeples’ name because police needed to conduct additional follow-up with witnesses. Some of the witnesses were asked to conduct suspect identifications.
The bureau has specific policies on how eyewitness identifications are supposed to be handled.
KOIN 6 News also confirmed that a Multnomah County grand jury will review the use of deadly force by Officer Reagan because Peeples sustained what is considered serious physical injuries.
Kevin Sali, a criminal defense attorney, said Wednesday “it makes a lot of sense” that police waited to release Peeples’ name in order to protect the integrity of the criminal cases.
Sali worked as an attorney on the high-profile and landmark aggravated murder case involving Samuel Lawson. The case ended up before the Oregon Supreme Court on appeal, and the decision by the Supreme Court changed the way courts and law enforcement officials handle eyewitness identification evidence.
“Eyewitness evidence, in particular, is a very sticky type of evidence because it relies on complex aspects of human perspective and memory, both of which are subject to error and alteration over time,” Sali said.
Sali said people have the idea that their minds work like a digital camera — where they see something “and that it is then stored there forever and can be retrieved later, but it’s more complex and fluid than that.”
It appears, Sali said, that police, in not releasing Peeples name, were trying to avoid “source confusion.”
“When you start publicizing that ‘this is the person we think did the robbery’ – now you have pictures showing up [in the media],” Sali said. “Every time you do, you are risking contaminating the memories of potential witnesses.”
Sgt. Burley said Oregon law does allows the bureau to withhold certain information that could potentially jeopardize criminal investigations, including information that could impact potential witnesses.
On Oct. 27, a detective with Portland Police, who is also an FBI robbery task force member, filed an affidavit in U.S. District Court that explained the probable cause investigators had developed in connection with the bank robbery at the U.S. Bank.
According to the criminal complaint, around 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 25, Peeples entered the bank and approached a teller’s window. He gave the teller a note. The piece of paper had a handwritten message that said, “I need” with the number “5” followed by “a lot of zeroes.”
At first, the teller thought she was dealing with a customer who was having difficulty speaking. She started asking him routine banking questions, including asking for his name and account information. Peeples reached into his jacket and gave the teller an ID card out of Washington. The teller recalled the first name being “Chase,” according to court documents.
The teller put Peeples’ information into the bank’s computer system, but was unable to find any corresponding accounts. When the teller told Peeples that she was unable to help him, he replied something to the effect of “this is a robbery” or “this is a stick up,” according to the federal complaint.
The teller gave Peeples $2,149 in cash, including so-called “bait bills,” according to the complaint.
KOIN 6 News learned that investigators were able to track the location of the cash immediately following the robbery.
A witness inside the bank told investigators she overheard the robber tell the bank employee that he did not have an account, and heard him tell the employee “this is a robbery,” according to court documents.
When police were notified of the bank robbery officers from North Precinct were dispatched to the area to start looking for the suspect. Police located Peeples at the intersection of North Oatman and North Saratoga.
“A confrontation ensued, and the robber was shot by police,” the detective wrote in his affidavit.
Police were given a judge’s approval to search several items on Peeples after he was shot, including a backpack. During the search, they found $2,070 in cash and a Washington ID card in the name of Peeples.
The affidavit filed by the PPB detective does not include information about the robbery that occurred at Ace Check Cashing because it’s not a federally insured business and the investigation is being handed by Portland Police, not the FBI. Additionally, the affidavit does not include specifc details on the officer involved shooting, because that is irrelevant to developing probable cause for the bank robbery since the shooting happened after the robbery, officials said.
Police reports on the check cashing store robbery and the shooting cannot be released, officials said, because the investigations are still ongoing and subject to the grand jury’s review. In earlier statements, however, police said that the robbery at Ace Check Cashing occurred around 1:15 p.m. on Oct. 25. Ace Check Cashing is located in the 2700 block of North Lombard.
The note that Peeples reportedly gave the U.S. Bank teller was described as being from an advertisement from “’Ace’ or ‘Ace Advantage’ or something similar, and [the teller] stated it was from a business that was located just down the street,” according to the federal complaint.
Peeples has not been booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center. He will be once doctors clear him for release, police said.
After he is booked into jail, an arraignment will be set in U.S. District Court.
No timeline has been established for when the grand jury will review the officer’s use of force.