PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Just-released body-camera footage from 2 Portland State University officers and investigative reports from the Portland Police Bureau shed new light on the shooting death of Jason Washington.
Washington was killed outside the Cheerful Tortoise on June 29, 2018. He had a concealed weapon permit and had a gun when he was shot. But documents released Friday show he took the gun from his friend earlier in the evening to keep his friend from getting into trouble.
A grand jury ruled Thursday that no criminal prosecution of Officer James Dewey and Officer Shawn McKenzie was warranted in the shooting, which occurred near the PSU campus at SW 6th Avenue and College Street.
The body cameras and the witnesses
The body-camera footage shows Dewey and McKenzie arrive on the scene, where Washington can be seen trying to break up a fight outside the Cheerful Tortoise bar around 1:30 a.m.
As the officers approach, a man in a camouflage sweatshirt, identified through police records as Patrick Dean, can be seen pointing at Washington and telling the officers that Washington “pulled a gun” on them. The video does not show Washington pointing the gun at the men involved in the fight. Dean, in an interview later with police, recanted, saying, “He didn’t pull it out anybody, he didn’t point it at anybody.”
As had been reported shortly after he was killed, Washington had a concealed weapon permit. Police records released Friday, however, reveal that the Walther PPQ 9mm gun did not belong to Washington, but instead belonged to his friend, Jeremy Wilkinson.
Derrial Peterson said Washington, Wilkinson, and Ryan Pratt were drinking at the Rialto earlier that night. Peterson, a bouncer at the Rialto, said Wilkinson flashed the gun Wilkinson was wearing in a holster inside his waistband, after Wilkinson and Washington had been cut off from being served more alcohol.
Peterson said, however, that Washington was not overly intoxicated at the time. (Wilkinson denied showing Peterson his gun, but said the gun may have been revealed if his shirt was lifted.)
According to multiple accounts given to police, Washington took Wilkinson’s gun at some point after they left the Rialto to prevent Wilkinson from getting into further trouble. Wilkinson told police he believed he gave the gun to Washington after they exited the Cheerful Tortoise.
Witnesses told police Wilkinson was arguing with a few regulars at the Cheerful Tortoise; some said that Wilkinson had used a racial slur, which Wilkinson denied. Several people, including Wilkinson, told police that Washington was trying to break up the fight and de-escalate the situation.
After Dean is seen on camera kicking Wilkinson in the head, giving him a concussion, Dewey’s body-camera footage shows the officer walking up to Washington from behind. Dewey placed his arms on Washington’s back, trying to pull him away from the fight. Dewey instructs Washington to back up.
Washington falls to the sidewalk, which causes his gun to drop from his pocket and hit the ground. Dewey can be heard saying, “He’s got a gun.”
The officers repeatedly yell at Washington to “drop the gun,” as he picks up his gun and starts to stand up. Right before shots are fired, an officer is heard saying, “We will shoot you.” It takes 3 seconds for shots to be fired from the moment when Washington is first told to drop his weapon.
Records show both officers fired their weapons, with 17 bullet casings found at the scene indicating that 17 shots were fired.
Dean, who had initially told officers that Washington had pulled a gun, becomes distraught following the fatal shooting.
“You killed him. He’s dead,” he screamed and cried. “He’s dead, bro, I don’t even know him, and he’s dead.”
Blood alcohol content questions
In documents obtained by KOIN 6 News, Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Davidson emailed Washington family attorney Chris Larsen about toxicology results that revealed that Washington had been drinking earlier that night.
Davidson was writing to address Larsen’s concerns about how Washington’s blood alcohol content would be used by the grand jury.
Davidson wrote he instructed the grand jury that Washington’s blood alcohol content could only be used in a limited way.
In his instructions to the grand jury, Davidson wrote, “You may use evidence of intoxication in this case to evaluate the objective reasonableness of the officer’s perceptions and actions in using deadly force against Mr. Washington. You may not consider this evidence for any other purpose.”
Davidson’s email shows that Larsen had also raised concerns that Washington’s blood alcohol content was not accurate due to an effect known as “post-mortem fermentation.” Davidson wrote to Larsen the medical examiner said the phenomenon would not have been a factor because Washington’s body fluids were collected the same day that Washington was killed.
Several witnesses told police Washington did not seem heavily intoxicated. However, his blood alcohol content was .242, more than 3 times the legal limit.
Washingon family statement
Jason Washington was a married father of 3, a Navy veteran and longtime letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service.
Washington’s widow, Michelle Washington, released a statement Thursday following the grand jury’s decision:
“Although my family and I are disappointed the PSU officers will not face criminal charges, we appreciate the hard work of those serving on the grand jury. I will be looking to my attorney, Christopher Larsen, to guide us through the next steps in this process. We want those responsible for the death of my husband to be held accountable. We will always remember and love Jason and know he was needlessly killed while attempting to keep the peace.”
The family’s attorney, Christopher Larsen, said he respected the decision of the grand jury and will now have the opportunity to review all evidence obtained and developed by law enforcement and the district attorney’s office.
“We intend to vigorously pursue legal action against those who are responsible for this tragic death,” Larsen said in the statement.
In his interview with police, Peterson described Washington as a devoted family man.
“I wish his wife knew that he was talking about the family and um, how he loved ’em man [sic]. He just, he was a good guy. He was stand up,” Peterson said.