2/9/23 News Update


<<Two Albany police officers shot and killed a man in a mental health crisis Wednesday morning after the man pointed a gun at them, the Associated Press reports.

The officers were initially responding to a welfare check for a man reported to be suicidal at a home in southwest Albany. The Albany Police Department said the man was armed and inside his vehicle.

Albany police, with the assistance of Linn County sheriff’s deputies, attempted to contact the man in his vehicle. Some of his family members were nearby. Police said a trained crisis negotiator was on the way to the location.

Officers and deputies said they attempted to calm the situation from a distance and asked the man to drop his weapon. According to the Albany Police Department, officers and witnesses saw the man move the pistol to his head and back down to his side.

Police report the man then pointed his weapon at officers, and that is when two officers fired their weapons.

The department did not say the man fired his weapon.

Officers said they immediately moved to provide first aid, but the man was dead.

His family members and other bystanders were uninjured, and no officers were reported to have been harmed.

Police did not release the victim’s name, or the names of any police officers who fired their guns.

All of the officers involved have been placed on leave as the investigation continues.

The Corvallis Police Department is leading the investigation into the shooting, in conjunction with the Linn County District Attorney’s Office and the Linn/Benton Major Crimes Team.>>



<<U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, is applauding updates made to the Department of Homeland Security’s use of force policy that clarify when it’s appropriate for federal law enforcement to use deadly force and adjust how the department reports use-of-force data.

Wyden tweeted saying he pressed for these changes and sees them as “a small but positive step toward preventing a repeat of Donald Trump’s unilateral deployment of federal law enforcement to U.S. cities when he was in the White House.”

In October 2020, Portland sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department and accused the agencies of overstepping constitutional limits in their use of federal law enforcement officers during the racial justice protests of 2020.

Former President Trump’s administration sent dozens of U.S. agents to Portland in July 2020 to guard the federal courthouse, which protesters had been targeting.

The federal agents’ work was supposed to be limited to federal property, but those agents clashed with protesters blocks from the courthouse on several occasions. They were also accused of picking up protesters in unmarked cars and removing them from the area without identifying themselves.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced the use of force policy changes Tuesday. The changes were required by President Joe Biden’s Executive Order to Advance Effective, Accountable Policing and Strengthen Public Safety.

The update includes clear use-of-force standards. DHS officers are now forbidden from using deadly force against a person whose actions are only a threat to themself or property. They are also not allowed to use chokeholds or carotid restraints unless the situation qualifies for using deadly force.

The new policy updates how DHS is required to collect and report use-of-force data and places limits on the use of no-knock entries.

It provides wellness resources for law enforcement officers who use force on the job and makes changes to law enforcement training in areas including the use of force, de-escalation techniques, the duty to intervene, and implicit bias and profiling.

“Our ability to secure the homeland rests on public trust, which is built by accountability, transparency, and effectiveness in our law enforcement practices. Today’s policy announcement is designed to advance those essential values,” Mayorkas said Tuesday.>>



<<Oregon lawmakers are discussing bills that address political extremism and domestic terrorism following unrest in Oregon in recent years along with the January 6th attack on the U.S. capitol.

Lawmakers hope harsher punishments will deter people from committing domestic terrorism.

When discussing the proposals, lawmakers mentioned a 2022 Oregon secretary of state audit, which found that Oregon had the sixth highest number of domestic violent extremism incidents in the nation from 2011 to 2020.

House Bill 2772 would make domestic terrorism a felony punishable by 10 years of prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. It would apply to an individual, acting alone or a group.

The bill defines domestic terrorism as intentionally attempting to cause “catastrophic harm” that “results in extraordinary levels of death, injury, property damage or disruption of daily life.”

The bill also says that domestic terrorism severely impacts the “population, infrastructure, environment, economy or government functioning” of Oregon.

We heard from the state representative who supports the bill along with Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt.

“I do believe this bill has the potential to create a relief valve ahead of what could be an increasingly violent election cycle and keep our state from descending into the further cycles of violence and chaos,” said State Rep. Dacia Grayber (D) of House District 28.

“By the time the violence erupts, we’re already too late,” said Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt. “I’ve prosecuted violent protesters from across the ideological spectrum and will continue to do so whenever necessary but those prosecutions have taught me that we are poorly served to simply wait to violence for happen.”

Another proposal, House Bill 2572, would address the threat and damages that people face from paramilitary activity involving a group of three or more people who illegally prevent others from accessing public areas or exercising their lawful rights, such as voting.

The report also urged lawmakers to take action, as Oregon is one of just 16 states without a definition of domestic terrorism in the law.>>



<<After two years of planning, officers in the Salem Police Department will start wearing body cameras on February 13.

The cameras will be worn by officers on patrol and detectives working in the field.

“This technology is just another tool in that plan behind the idea of transparency and accountability,” said Salem Police Chief Trevor Womack.

It’s been a long road for the department to get these devices that started two years ago in 2021. Salem police said throughout that time, the department had to budget, work with stakeholders, select the vendors then test the cameras.

“That included testing in the field, during stressed conditions, low light conditions, and how well the equipment stays on the officer,” Chief Womack said.

When an officer goes out on patrol, they tap their cameras on during any incident they respond to where they believe there’s suspicion or probable cause of a crime or violation.

“After that, they would turn off their camera once they have separated from that incident, then they can immediately view the footage on their phone,” Deputy Chief Brandon Ditto said.

Officers will be able to see the footage, but cannot edit or delete the recording.

For the first 60 days of the program, officers will have a grace period if they forget to turn their body camera on. After that, they will be disciplined if they deliberately de-activate their cameras, Salem police said.

Patrol cars will also have cameras that will record video around the car and the custody area inside the vehicle. Salem police said that part of the process will be complete by the end of summer.

David Rheinholdt, the chair of the City of Salem Community Police Review Board, said logistical issues have caused the delays in the body camera program getting started, but said this is a step in the right direction.

“I think it’s a good thing for the city as a whole,” Rheinholdt said. “The officers I talked to are very happy about having body cameras and most of the citizens I’ve talked to are happy as well.”

When it comes to other large departments in the area getting body cameras, Vancouver police said on Wednesday it anticipates launching the program later this month.

Police in Beaverton, Camas and Oregon State Police wear body cameras while on patrol.

Portland is the last major city in the U.S. where police don’t wear body cameras. The police department and city have been attempting to add body cameras for years, but the process has been a long one that’s repeatedly stalled. At last check, Portland police said they plan to start their program at the end of 2023.>>



<<The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission today released the results of a potentially explosive investigation.

The probe found that six senior agency officials, including longtime director Steve Marks, diverted rare and valuable whiskey from public sale to their own personal use—and to unnamed lawmakers. (Gov. Tina Kotek forced Marks out last month prior to learning about the investigation.)

One of the officials, Chris Mayton, who is director of distilled spirits for the agency, which has a monopoly on hard liquor sales in Oregon, told an investigator that it was agency practice to divert some rare bottles to legislators.

“Mayton wanted to reiterate how widespread this practice is and what his position requires, procuring product for individuals—which included OLCC employees and legislators.”

Hampton further wrote, “[Mayton] qualified he has served as a ‘facilitator’ for customers, OLCC employees and legislators hundreds of times as part of his work duties.” (There are no lawmakers named in any of the investigative materials the OLCC released to WW. The Oregonian first reported the internal investigation.)

The whiskeys in question, according the investigation, include some of the nation’s rarest and most valuable bourbons: “Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel; Pappy Van Winkle 10-year; Pappy Van Winkle 12-year; Pappy Van Winkle 15-year; Pappy Van Winkle 20-year; and, Pappy Van Winkle 23-year.”

Prices for such bottles on the OLCC website are a fraction of those quoted online from resellers. For example, the OLCC’s price for a fifth of 15-year-old Pappy Van Winkle is $119.95; online quotes from sellers in other states are commonly over $2,000.

Marks admitted to Hampton that he’d asked for some of the 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle to be diverted for his own use. Other senior agency officials made similar admissions.

The OLCC received allocation of the rare whiskeys from manufacturers. It sent some to state liquor stores, some to bars and restaurants, and set some aside for lotteries that gave the public an opportunity to buy the bottles.

Because the OLCC uses a standard markup for all liquor regardless of its rarity, prices for Elmer T. Lee and Pappy Van Winkle are vastly lower here than in other states—the issue is Oregonians just cannot buy them in most cases because demand overwhelms supply.

That’s where the practice of diversion comes in: According to the investigation, the OLCC set aside a “reserve” roughly equal to the number of bottles made available to the public through lotteries. At least six senior managers ordered bottles be set aside from that reserve for their own personal purchase. All were interviewed by Hampton and all said they paid for the bottles, usually picking them up at a state liquor store in Milwaukie near agency headquarters.

It may not matter that officials paid for the bottles. Oregon’s government ethics laws prohibit public officials, such as lawmakers and state agency officials, from using their public position for private gain. In this case, the gain would be the opportunity to buy rare whiskey not available to others and worth far more in the free market than the price officials paid.

Much remains unknown: which lawmakers benefited from the diversion; how many bottles were diverted over how long; whether agency officials or others resold their bottles (agency officials denied reselling the bottles), among other questions. Gov. Tina Kotek has asked the Oregon Department of Justice to conduct a civil investigation and it’s highly likely the Oregon Government Ethics Commission will investigate as well.

For his part, Marks ordered an end to the diversion in August, according to a letter included in the investigatory materials. And the OLCC found Dec. 22 that agency officials had violated state ethics laws by diverting bottles for their own use, placing reprimands in the affected employees’ files. It is unclear whether the agency referred its findings to the ethics commission.>>


<<Oregon Governor Tina Kotek asked for new leadership in Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission Wednesday after requesting the resignation of the head of the organization.

Gov. Kotek said the leaders within the agency, including the director, abused their position for personal gain.

The executive director of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, Steve Marks, and five other agency officials were found to have diverted sought-after bourbons, including Pappy Van Winkle’s 23-year-old whiskey, for their own use, according to an internal investigation obtained by FOX 12 on Wednesday through a public records request.

The investigation found that although the officials were paying for the whiskey, which can cost hundreds of dollars a bottle, they were able to obtain them thanks to their connections and inside knowledge at the commission. As a result, the public was denied access to the pricy liquor.

That, according to the commission’s inquiry, violates Oregon laws, including one that forbids public employees from utilizing private information for personal advantage.

“This behavior is wholly unacceptable. I will not tolerate wrongful violations of our government ethics laws,” Kotek said in a statement. “I urge the commission to install new leadership and remove the managers and executive leadership who have taken advantage of their access and authority to benefit themselves.”

According to the Governor’s statement, leaders in the OLCC admitted to their violations in an internal investigation. Kotek has also asked the Attorney General to conduct an independent investigation.

While being questioned by the investigator, Marks refuted claims that he had broken state and Oregonian ethical laws. He did admit, though, that as a commission worker, he had “to some extent” benefited from special treatment in getting the whiskey. The whiskeys they acquired, according to Marks and the other authorities, were never resold.

Kotek has requested that Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum launch a separate civil inquiry into the scope of any wrongdoing and make recommendations for stricter procedures to make sure ethics laws are upheld.>>


<< A thirst for rare bottles of bourbon appears set to cost the executive director and other top officials of Oregon’s liquor and marijuana regulating agency their jobs.

An internal investigation by the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, obtained by The Associated Press via a public records request Wednesday, concluded that Executive Director Steve Marks and five other agency officials had diverted sought-after bourbons, including Pappy Van Winkle’s 23-year-old whiskey, for their personal use.

The officials were paying for the whiskey, which can cost thousands of dollars a bottle, but they had used their knowledge and connections at the commission to obtain them, and consequently deprived members of the public of the spendy booze, the investigation said. And that violated Oregon statutes, including one that prohibits public officials from using confidential information for personal gain, the commission’s investigation said.

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek on Wednesday asked the agency’s board of commissioners to remove Marks and the other implicated officials, alleging they “abused their position for personal gain.”

“This behavior is wholly unacceptable. I will not tolerate wrongful violations of our government ethics laws,” Kotek said in her letter to the board of commissioners.

In his responses to questions from the investigator, Marks denied that he had violated Oregon ethics laws and state policy. However, he acknowledged that he had received preferential treatment “to some extent” in obtaining the whiskey as a commission employee. Marks and the other officials said they never resold the whiskeys they obtained.

“This incident underlines the importance of having public accountability,” said agency spokesperson Mark Pettinger. “The OLCC will need to work on rebuilding and restoring our public trust … and adhere to Oregon’s ethics laws.”

Kotek has asked Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to conduct an independent civil investigation into the extent of any wrongdoing and recommend stronger protocols for ensuring ethics laws are followed.>>



<<The parents of a Portland middle school student say their son was attacked by two classmates during school hours in an apparent racially motivated incident — and that Portland Public Schools administrators rebuffed their requests to raise awareness of the attack districtwide.

Angela Canton and Raheem Alexzander say their eighth-grade son, who is one of the few Black students at West Sylvan Middle School, had a hall pass to get a drink of water during third period on Jan. 20. The Oregonian/OregonLive is withholding the child’s name at the request of his parents.

A handful of other eighth graders — acquaintances but not friends of their son — were in the hallway at the same time, Alexzander said, some of them without hallway passes, though the family was later told that official school policy is that students are only allowed to leave class one at a time, and then only with a hall pass.

Two of the other students grabbed his son and put him belly up against a wall, pretending as though they were putting him in handcuffs, according to Alexzander.

“And from there, the students were acting like they were police officers, saying that they were going to turn off their chest camera,” Alexzander said. “They put him on the ground, face down. One of the kids had a hall pass on a lanyard and proceeded to tie his hands behind his back. One put their knee on my son’s back and told him that he was going to wait 20 seconds.”

“They were acting as if my son was George Floyd, waiting for him to die,” Alexzander added.

By that point, Alexzander and Canton said, students standing nearby saw what was unfolding and another student who came out from a nearby classroom helped break up the incident. Their son went back to class, told his teacher what had happened and then informed administrators at West Sylvan.

The two students involved in the physical attack have been expelled from West Sylvan, a district source confirmed.>>



<<A man has been arrested for posing as a police officer in the Mt. Hood area and now the real cops want people to come forward if they have previously come in contact with him.

According to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, Timothy Jacob Benz, 41, of Rhododendron, was being held without bail in Clackamas County Jail on charges including Impersonating a Police Officer, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and Felon in Possession of a Restricted Weapon.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Benz on Saturday, Feb. 4 after they say several people called 911 reporting that he had been impersonating a police officer.

Benz was spotted “patrolling” the Mt. Hood Meadows parking lot in a silver Dodge Charger that looked like an unmarked police car, according to investigators. Additionally, he was reportedly wearing black body armor and claimed to be a member of the Oregon State Police when contacted by Mt. Hood Meadows security personnel.

The sheriff’s office revealed on Tuesday that Oregon State Police arrested Benz in 2011 after he reportedly drove recklessly in a vehicle equipped with police lights on the roof, strobe lighting, and a siren to move through traffic after the Hillsboro International Air Show. Benz later pled guilty to reckless driving.

According to the sheriff’s office, Benz has two registered vehicles with emergency lights: a gold 2006 Toyota Sequoia SUV, license plate KK7TEX, outfitted with a rooftop light bar, and a silver four-door 2019 Dodge Charger, license plate 849NVB, outfitted with a spotlight, aftermarket emergency lights, and black badge decal near the driver’s-side door.>>



<< In a coordinated effort, Tigard police arrested more than a dozen people over the weekend during a shoplifting sting in the Washington Square Mall area.

With the help of loss prevention employees and patrol officers, detectives arrested multiple people who they say were shoplifting from at least one of three major stores being monitored at the mall. A photo shared of the operation shows at least one person being arrested outside the nearby Target.

Authorities recovered more than $4,000 worth of merchandise, shoplifting tools and a few blue pills believed to contain fentanyl. Among the stolen goods recovered were a Nespresso machine, Quay sunglasses, Nike apparel and several other pieces of clothing.

Of the 14 people arrested, 12 are facing second-degree theft charges and nearly half of them were booked on a warrant charge.

The bust was part of Tigard Police Department’s “proactive enforcement” to curb shoplifting, which is a crime police say has become more violent as shoplifters are often arming themselves or fighting with loss prevention employees.>>



<<Portland’s famed Belmont Goats were temporarily set free early Tuesday morning in what appeared to be an act of protest against a planned sweep of a nearby homeless encampment.

Robin Casey, co-owner of the Belmont Goats, said she discovered Tuesday morning that the goats’ fence had been cut and found a note rolled up inside the fence.

“In what reality is the comfort of five goats valued over the shelter of more than fifteen people,” said the letter, signed by “some anarchists. So, it’s time for the Belmont Goats to enjoy a little walk in the park.”

Casey said all the escaped goats have been retrieved and appear to be healthy.

The nonprofit-funded goats currently live in a fenced area near Peninsula Crossing Trail in North Portland. The land is owned by the Portland Housing Bureau. When the city announced a year ago plans to construct a tiny home village at that location at 6631 N. Syracuse St., they agreed to help relocate the goats just south of that spot.

The new site planned for the Belmont Goats is located where more than a dozen people currently are living unsheltered. The city has informed residents that it will conduct a sweep of the encampment.

“People don’t know where to go. People are desperate. Sweeps are a cruel, inhuman and murderous way for the city to push people around,” the letter said. “To kick the can down the road and avoid addressing the real issues, which are the astronomical rise in the cost of housing.”

The city has been providing outreach to the encampment residents for about six months, at least twice a month, said Cody Bowman, spokesperson for Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. The residents were offered shelter beds, free rides to a shelter and storage for their belongings, among other services, he said.

The note left in the fence claimed that those living in the encampment were just told to call 211 for information about shelter resources. Over the past few years, many have reported that calling 211 often fails as a connection to shelter or other resources.

“This long-term cleanup effort is to allow for the development of a new safe rest village location, led by Commissioner (Dan) Ryan,” Bowman said. “The senseless incident that occurred last night caused damage to private property and posed an immediate threat to the goats who were released. City staff has been in contact with Belmont Goats since early this morning to help the staff bring the goats back to safety.”

Bowman said that the city needs to move the goats just south of where they currently are to begin constructing tiny homes on the site, a process that will take place over the next couple of months.

The note in the fence expressed concern that those being swept wouldn’t be offered spots at the future safe rest village. Bowman said the city is interested in trying to offer those who are swept spots at the site.

However, he said it will be up to the shelter operator to select residents for the safe rest village and an operator hasn’t yet been chosen to run the site.>>


<<Sometime Monday night, someone cut the fence to an animal enclosure in Portland’s University Park neighborhood, releasing the city’s famed Belmont Goats in what appears to be a protest over homeless camp sweeps.

So far, authorities have not arrested anyone for the vandalism, but the perpetrators left a note signed “Some Anarchists.” The note questioned whether the comfort of goats is being valued above people.

The goat enclosure is on city-owned land being developed for a new Safe Rest Village, a city-sanctioned homeless camp. The goats need to move elsewhere. Their current home sits next to an unsanctioned homeless camp that is in the process of being swept.

Robin Casey, a volunteer with the Belmont Goats nonprofit, said she’s sad the activists didn’t talk to the nonprofit workers first, because they’re sympathetic. “I really don’t feel like there was a need for this kind of action,” Casey said.

Casey said nonprofit organizers originally thought they would have more time to find another site for the goats, but the city is moving quickly to set up the new village. She said there wasn’t enough time to talk to potential new neighbors or set up a crowdfunding campaign before they needed to move.

So the city suggested the goats move to the spot of the current unsanctioned camp.

“The city was like: ‘Hey, what about if we basically just rearranged your fence line and put you on the other side of the field. Would that be an okay thing?’” Casey said. “And it was something that we were agreeing to because we want to stay in that neighborhood. Because we’re part of that neighborhood.”

In addition to questioning whether goat comfort is valued above people’s comfort, that note said people experiencing homelessness don’t know where to go.

“People are desperate. Sweeps are a cruel, inhuman, and murderous way for the city to push people around, to appease developers and business owners, to keep unhoused people from forming communities at networks of support that might allow them to survive,” the note said.

The Portland mayor’s office issued a statement saying the Street Services Coordination Center has worked for the past six months to talk to people camping along the Peninsula Crossing trail. People camping near the goats were offered shelter beds, rides to a shelter and storage for their belongings, according to the city.

With regard to the goats, the city statement called it a senseless incident that caused damage to private property and posed an immediate threat to the goats.>>