6/30/2023 News Roundup


<<A grand jury has found two Portland police officers justified in the shooting death of a murder suspect accused of shooting and killing a man in a Southeast Portland shop in April, the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office announced.

The officers, identified as Nick Wombold and Brian Wheeler, along with Clackamas County Sheriff’s Deputy David Sloboda, were cleared in the death of Jack Watson.

Watson was a suspect in the April 23 shooting of 29-year-old Zachery Freeman, who had been inside the Fantasyland adult store and smoke shop at the time of his death.

A Fantasyland employee, who asked to remain anonymous for safety, previously told KOIN 6 News that a fight broke out between Freeman and Watson before shots were fired in the back of the store.

The day after the Fantasyland shooting, Portland police said they tried to pull over Watson shortly before 11 p.m. on Southeast 82nd Avenue near the Clackamas Square shopping center.

Police say that after several attempts to stop his car, Watson shot at law enforcement before Portland Police officers and Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office deputies returned fire, killing him.>>


<<The suspect in an adult-shop murder had been boxed in by police when the man fired two quick shots, one striking the windshield of an occupied Portland police patrol car, the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office said in a new report on the shooting.

Clackamas County sheriff’s Deputy David Sloboda and Portland police Officers Nick Wombold and Brian Wheeler returned fire and fatally shot Jack J. Watson on April 24, according to the report released Wednesday.

A grand jury determined all three officers were legally justified, the report said.

Watson, 20, was wanted for the April 23 killing of 29-year-old Zachery Freeman inside Fantasyland on Southeast Foster Avenue in Portland.

Freeman, a regular at the store, was inside the pay-to-play arcade and theater when clerks heard a shot ring out, The Oregonian/OregonLive previously reported.

The next day, police spotted Watson leaving a 7-Eleven on Southeast Powell Boulevard about 10:40 p.m. and gave chase as he fled south in his sedan, according to the report. Officers punctured his tires twice with spike strips as Watson continued his flight 5.5 miles down Southeast 82nd Avenue, the report said.

Watson eventually drove into a construction site on 82nd and Southeast Monterey avenues and was trying to turn around when multiple police officers rammed his car, disabling it, according to the report.

Watson then fired a revolver from inside his car, striking Wombold’s windshield, prosecutors say. He was declared dead at the scene.

The report doesn’t specify how many shots were fired by police.

Clackamas County deputies have returned fire after being shot at two other times this year, according to the district attorney’s office. In February, three deputies shot and wounded Brandon Gilpin and Felisha Cunningham in Wilsonville.

Gilpin and Cunningham are suspects in a Portland murder in the Eliot neighborhood and have since been released from the hospital but remain in custody. A grand jury found the shooting by deputies in the case was justified.

On April 29, Deputy Derek Huskisson returned fire on 23-year-old Sandy resident Carlos Sanchez at the end of a police chase in Happy Valley, according to the district attorney’s office. Sanchez had already been wounded in a prior shooting with two residents who confronted Sanchez for allegedly stealing their car, the DA’s office said in a release, and authorities have said it’s unclear whether Sanchez died from a self-inflicted wound to the head or the deputy’s bullet.

The district attorney’s office plans to present Sanchez’s case to a grand jury soon, according to a spokesperson.>>



<<A pipe-wielding man who allegedly bludgeoned two unclothed cyclists pedaling through Portland’s Nob Hill neighborhood now faces assault and hate crime charges, according to prosecutors.

Nine naked bicyclists were riding near Northwest 19th Avenue and Flanders Street on June 3 when a stranger took “baseball-like” swings at them, striking two men in the back, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The man shouted at the bicyclists to “get out of here,” adding a slur for gay people during the attack, the court document says. One of the injured identifies as gay, prosecutors say.

It’s unclear if the riders were affiliated with a clothing-optional Pedalpalooza event scheduled for the same day.

Police apprehended the accused pipe swinger, later identified as Robert E. Houchins, with the three-foot metal pole still in his possession, according to the affidavit.

Houchins, 39, has no listed address. He faces charges including second-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon and first-degree bias crime, the legal term for a hate crime.

Houchins has at least 28 convictions on his record ranging from aggravated sex abuse to arson and theft, a booking report shows, and has failed to appear in court on roughly 45 prior occasions. He’s being held in Multnomah County’s Inverness Jail.>>


<<The Portland Police Bureau is looking for the suspect who recently attacked a Black food cart owner whose attorney say the man was beaten because of his race.

Darell Preston, owner of LoRell’s Chicken Shack on Southeast Foster Road, suffered severe facial injuries in an attack June 15. Preston’s attorney, Alicia LeDuc Montgomery, said he was beaten because of his race.>>

<<Preston’s attorney sent FOX 12 a video of the beating that shows the suspect kicking Preston on the ground in an attack she says was unprovoked.>>


<<Earlier this month, the Black owner of a Southeast Portland food truck was attacked, with an attorney for the victim saying that a white man yelled racial slurs during the unprovoked beating.

The Portland Police Bureau later confirmed that the case is being investigated as a bias crime. Now they’ve publicly identified the suspect, who remains on the loose.

A statement released by PPB on Thursday said that the suspect is believed to be Daniel Thomas Warren, 40. The agency released a mugshot of him from October 2021, plus a screenshot from video taken shortly after the attack.>>

<<According to the attorney, Preston was standing behind his food truck on June 15, talking to his wife on the phone, when someone “violently assaulted him from behind” without warning. The statement describes the assailant as a white man.

The attacker hit Preston in the head and continued beating him, the law office said, knocking him to the ground and yelling racial slurs. The attack and racial slurs continued as Preston tried to get up.>>

<<Cell phone video purportedly documenting the end of the attack, provided by LeDuc Montgomery, shows a bald white man wearing shorts and a black jacket walking nonchalantly away after pulling Preston back to the ground and stomping on him.

According to the attorney, Portland police responded to the scene but did not, to the family’s knowledge, “call an ambulance or provide medical care to Mr. Preston.” He was taken to the hospital by his wife, his injured face wrapped in a shirt.>>

<<In the notice to the DA’s office and PPB, LeDuc Montgomery reiterated that she had not received a response about the status of the investigation or whether it was being viewed as a bias crime. She said that her office was investigating the incident, as well as the “timeliness and sufficiency of the government’s response to this matter.”

On Wednesday, the Portland Police Bureau provided a statement about the investigation. It confirmed that the agency’s Major Crimes Team is investigating the attack as a potential bias crime, but said that no arrests had been made.>>

<<PPB said it would not discuss any video or photos of the crime or its aftermath being distributed.

The agency also pushed back on LeDuc Montgomery’s insinuation that police did not take the attack seriously.

“The officer, upon noticing the injuries to the victim, immediately offered to summon EMS,” Allen added. “The victim declined. Because he appeared to be conscious, oriented, and able to make his own health care decisions, it would not have been appropriate for the officer to override the patient’s wishes.”>>


<< Authorities are searching for an assault suspect who attacked a man in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood, the Portland Police Bureau announced.>>

<<“It was a really violent assault. There’s no question about it,” Sgt. Kevin Allen with the Portland Police Bureau said. “Anytime we’re seeing a violent crime happen on our streets, it’s shocking, but I think especially when it’s happening like that in broad daylight.”>>

<<Details of the assault and what led up to the attack are not clear — and PPB would not confirm if this is the same attack against the owner of LoRell’s Chicken Shack, which is being investigated as a bias crime.

However, the attorney representing the family of Darell Preston, owner of LoRell’s Chicken Shack, says he was the person attacked and that PPB’s suspect search is the same investigation.>>

<<Police searched for the suspect, who has been identified as 40-year-old Daniel Warren, according to authorities.>>

<<According to court records, Warren has a lengthy criminal history including assault, strangulation and harassment. He was sentenced to six months back in February for one of the cases, but it’s unclear how long ago he was released.

Alicia LeDuc Montgomery, the attorney for the Preston family, tells KOIN 6 the assault on Preston was severe, leaving him with fractured bones in his face and lacerations to his eyes, along with plenty of physical and emotional trauma. >>


<<Warren has a criminal record in Oregon stretching back to 2003, with convictions for domestic violence strangulation, assault and burglary, court records show.

Lincoln County sheriff’s deputies most recently arrested Warren Dec. 11 in Yachats after his girlfriend told police he had punched her in the face up to five times and bit her arm. Warren was sentenced Feb. 2 to 180 days in Lincoln County Jail with credit for time served after pleading guilty to a charge of fourth-degree assault constituting domestic violence, according to court records.

Warren wrote in a May 24 letter to Lincoln County Circuit Judge Sheryl Bachart that he had been working on anger management and sobriety while in jail, court records show.

Warren is suspected of attacking Preston less than a month later.>>



<<A federal judge in Portland indicated Thursday he would sign off on new changes to the Oregon State Hospital’s admissions and discharge procedures for people charged with crimes who are deemed too mentally ill to assist in their own defense or stand trial.

For years, the state-run psychiatric hospital has been over capacity. It regularly leaves people with serious mental illnesses languishing in local jails, well past court-ordered admission deadlines established decades ago to protect their constitutional rights.

These proposed changes stem from a major shift last year that limited the amount of time people could stay at the hospital — a decision that drew criticism from district attorneys, state court judges, local governments and private hospitals. The idea was that moving people through treatment more quickly would reduce the time people spent in jail before being admitted. But critics have said the timeline simply allows for the release of seriously mentally ill people with no institutional support.

During a hearing Thursday, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman said he planned to issue an order next week adopting the changes the parties have now agreed on. He also denied a motion from Marion County to intervene as a party in the long-running case.

“This is not a good outcome for the county,” Marion County Counsel Jane Vetto told Mosman. “It was the best of a bad situation.”

Mosman acknowledged that “there was no path forward” that didn’t produce challenges as the state, justice system and local communities attempt to balance public safety and the constitutional protections for people with mental illness charged with crimes. Mosman told Vetto some of the challenges date back “longer than you’ve been an attorney.”

Broadly, these new changes before Mosman provide more flexibility. They would allow some patients charged with serious crimes an avenue to potentially remain at the hospital longer. They would also prevent those charged with the lowest level crimes from ever going to the state’s psychiatric hospital in the first place. The agreement, outlined in federal court records, is the result of weeks of settlement negotiations between disability advocates, state health officials, and those same parties frustrated by last fall’s agreement.

In September, Mosman agreed to sweeping changes that reduced the amount of time people known as “aid and assist” patients could stay at the psychiatric hospital to a maximum of 12 months and only for those charged with the most serious crimes. That agreement, now referred to as the “Mosman order” was the result of years of litigation between Disability Rights Oregon and Metropolitan Public Defender, who sued the Oregon Health Authority, which runs the state hospital, over the delay people faced getting admitted.

In 2018, disability advocates noted the state was regularly violating a decades old federal court injunction that requires the State Hospital to admit people charged with crimes within seven days of a state court judge finding them unable to aid and assist in their criminal case.

Advocates argued that a failure to do so violated the defendant’s constitutional rights.

But throughout 2019 and 2020, the number of people waiting more than seven days grew and the litigation intensified.

Late in 2021, Mosman agreed to a court-appointed expert to help the health authority and the advocates make headway. Last September, they did and presented Mosman with an unopposed motion to limit the amount of time people can stay at the hospital.

The order granted 90 days for people charged with misdemeanors, six months for non-violent felonies, one year for violent charges that carry mandatory minimum sentences under Ballot Measure 11. After, the plan called for the hospital to discharge patients back to the county jails they came from where local prosecutors and judges would have to determine how to proceed.

Days after the Mosman order, district attorneys in Marion, Washington and Clackamas counties moved to intervene in the case. Local prosecutors were concerned about the prospect of having to drop charges and release defendants, particularly those charged with violent person crimes who were still unable to aid in their own defense.

The elected prosecutors were joined by the state’s largest private hospitals, several counties and state court judges.

This latest proposal is the result of months of litigation and negotiation between all of those groups and the original parties to the lawsuit.

The tweaked proposal allows some patients who still cannot face trial or plead due to their mental illness the ability to stay up to 30 additional days, if it means they can get placed in an appropriate housing situation, rather than being released back to jail or the streets. For cases involving people charged with serious crimes, district attorneys could petition to have those patients remain at the hospital a few additional months. But prosecutors would have to show that the additional time would have a likelihood of success, making the patient mentally stable enough to plead guilty or go to trial.

One thing all parties agree on is that it’s unclear whether this latest proposal will give the state hospital the capacity it needs to admit people faster, while also providing the flexibility necessary to ensure public safety. What is clear, according to the parties, the state needs more levels of care beyond what exists now.>>



<<Clark County’s emergency services agency has recorded 857 “Level Zero” incidents so far in 2023 — a code for when there are no ambulance crews available to respond when someone calls 911 in an emergency.

American Medical Response — the ambulance provider contracted to operate in Clark County, Clackamas County, Multnomah County and soon-to-be Washington County — has received criticism for lagging response times and gaps in emergency care.

The company has cited a national shortage of paramedics as reasoning for failed performance standards, feuding with Multnomah County over the county’s two-paramedic requirement for ambulance crews.

While EMS service in Multnomah County represents the company’s biggest challenge, public records show AMR has been unable to immediately respond to hundreds of emergency calls north of the Columbia river as well.>>

<<Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency reports 857 “Level Zero” incidents between Jan. 1, 2023 and June 20, 2023.

Dispatchers received 25,625 calls to 911 during this timeframe, meaning all AMR ambulances were busy and unable to respond on about 3.3% of 911 calls.

For comparison, Multnomah County data shows about 6,300 “Level Zero” incidents over the first six months of a year, representing about 10% of the 911 calls received.>>

<<“We need more paramedics to staff more ambulances, but that will only fix part of the problem,” Maurer said. “We’ll also need more nurses and hospital staff and hospital beds to get those patients off the ambulance so the ambulance can go back into service.”

A growing concern over “Level Zero” calls has prompted some community and fire department leaders to find ways to innovate.

On Thursday, the Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue received an ambulance that fire department paramedics will operate.

The Cowlitz Indian Tribe, through the Cowlitz Tribal Foundation gifted the fire department $700,000 to buy and outfit two ambulances in November.>>

<<The concept is, when AMR is at Level Zero, when AMR crews are delayed, or when all ambulances are concentrated elsewhere, Clark-Cowlitz Fire Rescue can respond to medical calls and transport when needed — something that’s seen as being needed for the resident of CCFR and the Cowlitz Indian Reservation.>>



<<Jennifer and Lauran Parise liked to run errands together on weekends while their 10-year-old son, Edwin, stayed home and played video games.

On Sunday, the couple was heading home from the Wood Village Fred Meyer in their blue 2012 Yaris when something slammed into them from behind, lifting the car off the ground and spinning it around.

When the car came to a stop, on Northeast Glisan Street near 147th Avenue, 39-year-old Lauran Parise looked over to see their wife unconscious in the driver’s seat.

Paramedics rushed them both to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, where Lauran Parise was treated for a broken nose, fractures in their cheekbones and cuts and bruises over their arms and face.

Doctors told them later their wife had died instantly. “It’s an indescribable kind of pain,” Lauran Parise said Wednesday.

Witness statements, video surveillance footage and accounts from police show Jennifer Parise, 40, died after at least one Gresham Police Department officer chased a speeding motorist for 34 blocks, from Gresham to Portland, because the officer suspected the driver’s silver Buick Regal matched one linked to a string of armed robberies. Police say Nathan Franklin Jr., the 61-year-old driver of the Buick, rear-ended the Yaris while fleeing the attempted traffic stop. He now faces charges of first-degree manslaughter, driving under the influence of intoxicants and reckless driving in Jennifer Parise’s death.

For now, Gresham police officials are not answering questions about what role the officer’s pursuit may have played in the crash, how fast the cars were going and what degree of danger Franklin may have posed to the public if the officer had stopped chasing him. They’re also not saying how the chase aligned with the police department’s written policy on pursuits.>>

<<Under Police Chief Travis Gullberg, Gresham police policy allows officers to pursue felony suspects, reckless drivers and people they suspect will commit a violent felony if allowed to escape. But officers are supposed to stop when “the risks to the public or the officer(s) outweigh the interests of apprehension,” according to the police department’s policy manual.

Officers are also asked to weigh several factors before initiating or continuing a pursuit, including the severity of the suspected crime, general public safety and whether officers have identified the suspect and believe they can arrest the person later.

Gresham police officers are not allowed to pursue suspects for traffic violations or misdemeanor crimes in most cases, according to Gresham police policy.

The Portland Police Bureau was not involved in the chase, a spokesperson said, but its policy allows pursuits only for reckless drivers or people suspected of violent felony crimes. Portland’s policy states officers “must be able to articulate reasons why the benefit of capture outweighs the safety risks posed to the community in the pursuit,” and are supposed to stop when “the safety risks posed to the community clearly outweigh the benefit of capture.”

In September 2021, Clackamas County Sheriff Angela Brandenburg ordered deputies to limit car chases two days after a shoplifting suspect followed by deputies fatally struck 54-year-old Kris Nickelson of Milwaukie in unincorporated Clackamas County.

Brandenburg’s memo ordered deputies not to engage in vehicle pursuits unless they had reason to suspect a driver had committed a violent felony or the suspect’s driving, before deputies initiated a traffic stop, put the public in immediate danger of serious injury or death.>>



<<Portland’s homicide numbers were slightly down as of May, mirroring national trends. There were 36 homicides in the first five months of this year, compared to 39 during the same period in 2022.

At a routine press briefing Tuesday, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt highlighted more reasons for optimism that the recent wave of violence in Portland may be receding. The city has seen a 14% decline in homicides with guns. Gresham had an even sharper decline, from seven homicides to one.

Schmidt noted, however, that his office has responded to more homicides so far this month than it did in June of last year. There were three in the past week alone, including a case in which a son allegedly beat his mother to death with a baseball bat.

Schmidt said his office is partnering with Oregon Health & Science University to form a commission to review recent murders and what could have been done to stop them. “It’s the same kind of health approach and methodology that led to seat belts in cars,” he says.

Here’s one thing the commission might find: Cheap guns have proliferated on Portland’s streets. “It’s a downward spiral,” Schmidt says. “The more that people are in fear and are actually in jeopardy, the more people want to get guns.”>>



<<Fred Meyer shoppers can expect to see a variety of new security measures when they visit Portland stores in the coming weeks, the most visible of which will be more security guards and a new system to verify receipts at the door.

“It may not look identical to a Costco style, but we’ll employ measures where we will check receipts as customers leave the store,” said Fred Meyer President Todd Kammeyer.

Both changes are part of a broader effort to crack down on crime and shoplifting, and the company said they were developed in partnership with the City of Portland and the Portland Police Bureau.>>

<<“Portland is proud to partner with Fred Meyer in this crucial initiative,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said in a statement. “We recognize the critical role Fred Meyer plays to our residents, and this partnership exemplifies our joint effort to combat crime, increase safety, and serve the needs of our diverse community.”>>



<<In an unusual step, Jeff Auxier, the elected district attorney for Columbia County, has resigned to take a staff position as a senior deputy district attorney in the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.

Auxier worked as an assistant district attorney in Multnomah County from 2008 to 2017, when he won election as DA in his county of residence.

(Auxier started his career as a prosecutor in Marion County.)

Now, he’ll return to his own shop to work for an ally, District Attorney Mike Schmidt, moving his base of operations from a county where he is the boss but that only has 53,156 people (as of the most recent Portland State University figures) to a county that has 810,242 and therefore a lot more crime.>>


<<Former Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty will host a house party for incumbent Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt on July 13, according to an email Hardesty sent out June 28.

“Three years ago, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, voters chose a new direction to make our community safety systems fairer, smarter and reduce disparities,” Hardesty said in the email. “We elected Mike Schmidt as District Attorney and he is getting the job done. In his first term, Schmidt has strategically added prosecutors to meet the challenges of gun violence and car thefts, and created the neighborhood district attorney program that is building trust and serving the community.”

Not everybody agrees with that rosy assessment. The dark money group People for Portland has targeted Schmidt with an online campaign of attack ads and a prominent billboard downtown. Some people affiliated with the group are helping Nathan Vasquez, a senior deputy district attorney in Schmidt’s office, mount a challenge to the incumbent.>>


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