PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Protests in Portland and in cities around the nation go deeper than the death of George Floyd. Nearly every major American city and many smaller communities have stories of African-Americans killed by police.
It’s pain that Portland’s Joe “Bean” Keller knows well. In 1996, his 20-year-old son Deontae Keller was shot and killed by police in North Portland.
“I mean it was painful, very painful, very hurting. I actually cried,” Keller told KOIN 6 News. “Deontae, he was driving a car, got pulled over by police. You know, he jumped out of the car and ran. … The result was him getting shot in the back.”
The pain, Keller said, never goes away.
Lloyd “Tony” Stevenson
In April 1985, off-duty security guard and former Marine Lloyd “Tony” Stevenson was at a 7-Eleven on NE Weidler Street when it was robbed. He helped stop the thief, then got into an argument with a witness in the parking lot.
Police arrived and Officer Gary Barbour put Stevenson in a carotid artery “sleeper” hold, a tactic since banned.
Stevenson was 31.
The community was outraged.
“They’re not going to do nothing to these people. They gonna keep on being policemen, and keep killing our Black men and women. They’re not gonna do nothing about it.”
The day of Stevenson’s funeral, two officers sold t-shirts with a smoking gun and the words, “Don’t choke ’em. Smoke ’em.” The officers were terminated but later re-instated.
On May 5, 2003, Kendra James tried to drive away from a traffic stop in North Portland. Officer Scott McAllister shot her dead. He said he feared James would run him over, even though he was leaning into the car’s driver’s side window.
Her mother, Shirley Isadore, said, “Justice has still not been served.”
Vigils for Kendra James continued for a decade. She was 21.
James “Jahar” Perez
James “Jahar” Perez was shot to death by Portland police on March 28, 2004, just 9 months after Kendra James. It was another traffic stop in North Portland, this time for failing to use a turn signal.
A witness to the shooting said, “They opened up his door, told him to get out. They slammed his head against the steering wheel, then they Tasered him. There were 3 shots and then he was foaming at the mouth.”
A public inquest resulted in no charges.
Officer Jason Sery said he feared for his life and thought Perez was reaching for a gun.
There was no gun. Perez, 28, was still seatbelted when he was killed.
In January 2010, Aaron Campbell was distraught and going through a mental health crisis. Police surrounded the Northeast Portland apartment complex and witnesses said it appeared Campbell was trying to surrender.
Officer Ron Frashour shot him in the back with an AR-15. Campbell, 25, was unarmed.
Frashour was fired but was later ordered to be re-instated. Campbell’s family received a $1.2 million settlement from the city.
Terry Kruger, the police officer who shot Joe Keller’s son in 1996, is now the police chief in West Linn. He’s on paid administrative leave, pending federal, state, local and civil investigations of the department into the wrongful arrest of Michael Fesser, an African-American who lives in Portland.
The City of West Linn recently awarded Fesser a $600,000 settlement.
“Black men and women are being attacked. We’ve been being attacked for awhile now,” Joe Keller said. “So when is this going to stop? That’s the bottom line.”