Friday, February 19, 2010
A family provided photo of Aaron Campbell, 25, in the hospital visiting his brother, Timothy Douglass, 23. Douglass died Friday, Jan. 29 of heart failure and his brother, Campbell, was shot to death hours later in a confrontation by police. Courtesy of the family
Portland Woman Who Loses Two Sons In One Day Says 'This Doesn't Make Any Sense'
Marva Davis, mother of Aaron Campbell, who was shot by police in January, attended a rally at the Justice Center protesting the police action and a grand jury ruling that the police acted properly. Michael Lloyd/The Oregonian
By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian
February 01, 2010
Marva Davis' 23-year-old son, Timothy Douglass, who had received a heart transplant 10 years ago, had finally lost his battle and died from heart and kidney failure about 8 a.m. Friday at OHSU.
By early afternoon, an emotionally-exhausted Davis returned to her Parkrose home, where she flopped down on her living room loveseat. Within hours she heard relatives talking about how police were looking for her other son, 25-year-old Aaron M. Campbell, who was distraught about his brother's death. Campbell had helped feed his brother, and stayed by his bedside his last days.
Shortly after 6 p.m., the call came: "Aaron's been shot" by police. He was pronounced dead at 6:51 p.m.
"Two sons in one day. It's crazy," Davis said Monday as she made arrangements for a double funeral for two of her four sons. "I don't understand it. ... This doesn't make any sense."
Police shot and killed Campbell in the parking lot of a girlfriend's Portland apartment, Sandy Terrace , after being called about a suicidal man with a gun. Police say he was shot "in response to perceived threatening actions."
Campbell's family and witnesses said Campbell was not carrying a gun; police would not confirm that. Police did seize a .22-caliber Beretta pistol from a hallway closet of his girlfriend's apartment, with four bullets. Witnesses say Campbell was trying to comply with commands, having stepped outside with his hands locked behind his head. He may have been mouthing off, but was not a threat, they say.
Now, a family is overcome with grief, witnesses are questioning why the call had to end in a man's death and police are interviewing the officers involved and will present the case to a Multnomah County grand jury.
Portland police were called to Sandy Terrace Apartments at 4:22 p.m. Friday. A friend of Campbell's girlfriend had called 9-1-1, saying she was concerned because she couldn't reach her, and thought Campbell was with her. Police say she also said Campbell possibly wanted to commit suicide by having officers shoot him.
East Precinct officers arrived at 4:30 p.m., and met Campbell's girlfriend in the parking lot. She said Campbell was despondent, and she'd seen him put his gun in the pocket of his black coat. While talking to police, she sent a text message to her boyfriend, asking him to come out.
Police say he returned the message, saying something about bringing his gun with him. An East Precinct officer made contact with Campbell via text messages and cell phone calls, with a hostage negotiating sergeant helping. By 5:33 p.m., three children came out.
By 6:07 p.m., at least two witnesses say, Campbell walked backward out of the unit and into the parking lot, toward police. Several were crouched behind a patrol car, guns drawn.
Kenny Boyer, who watched the nearly two-hour event unfold from his window about 30 feet from the parking lot, and Ryan Pannell, who watched from a second-story Sandy Terrace unit, said Campbell was complying with officers, his hands locked behind his head. They heard Campbell shouting something like "Go ahead and shoot me! You all want to shoot me, so shoot me."
Boyer said he may have heard one officer shout, "Get down!" Both witnesses said Campbell still had his back to police, his hands behind his head, when one officer fired bean-bag shotgun rounds at him. Police said they fired beanbag rounds because Campbell wasn't following commands.
Boyer and Pannell said Campbell kept his hands behind his head until the last bean-bag round struck him in the back. He then reached one hand around to where he was hit.
"He's starting to walk away from police, and when he reached down towards his back, that's when I heard the loud shot, boom. He kind of stumbled two steps and fell on his stomach," Boyer said.
Pannell said he saw Campbell reach behind him and run toward bushes alongside the apartments when he was shot in the back with the AR-15 rifle.
"I don't know why they shot him," Pannell said.
Police say Campbell had come out of the apartment, appeared to be complying with officers' commands but then his actions suddenly changed. One officer fired the bean-bag shotgun rounds, and Officer Ronald Frashour, with the bureau eight years, fired one shot from an AR-15 rifle "in response to perceived threatening actions," police said.
They have not said what those actions were, adding they will release more details today once interviews are done.
Once Campbell was shot and fell to the ground, police released a dog toward him, called up the Special Emergency Response Team, and kept shouting at him, "Aaron, move your leg, move your foot," witnesses said. They said there was no movement. SERT medics pronounced him dead at the scene.
Campbell had prior run-ins with police. He was convicted last January of unlawful possession of a firearm, and had convictions for resisting arrest, interfering with police, and driving with his license suspended.
Frashour was involved in the 2006 Tasing of a man who was videotaping police officers searching for a suspect -- a case that led a federal jury last fall to award the man $55,000.
Marva Davis' last conversation with her son, Aaron Campbell, was Friday morning. He was distraught, and wailing, "My brother is gone. It ain't worth living." Amid her own tears, she urged him to think of his four children, but had to hang up.
By early Friday evening, Marva's husband, John Davis, Campbell's stepdad, and a younger son, rushed to the site of the police action. Marva wanted to go, but her family wouldn't let her. She wonders now if she could have intervened.
"If they would have let me go, I could've talked to him," Marva Davis says, her voice trailing off. "I can't believe it. I'm still like shocked."
– Maxine Bernstein
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