6/9/2023 News Roundup


<<Tigard police say a Drag Queen Story Hour event at the public library has been canceled for this Sunday due to threats of violence.

Police made the announcement on Twitter today.

They say due to repeated threats of violence and information indicating the safety of community members may be at risk.

The library will be closed all day Sunday.>>


<<Officials with the city of Tigard canceled a Pride Month event scheduled for the Tigard Public Library on Sunday and shut the building down for the day due to threats of violence.

The library was scheduled to host a “Drag Queen Storytime” event on Sunday, June 11. The library and the Tigard Police Department made almost identical statements about the decision to cancel:

“Drag Queen Storytime at Tigard Public Library on Sunday, June 11, 2023 is cancelled, due to repeated threats of violence and information indicating the safety of our community may be jeopardized. Out of an abundance of caution, the library will also be closed to the public for the day.”>>


<<Lawyers for right-wing protest leader Joey Gibson and one his followers have made good on their plans to sue Portland and Multnomah County, claiming malicious prosecution.

Gibson, who led the Vancouver-based Patriot Prayer, and associate Russell Schultz beat felony riot charges during a trial last July after they were involved in a face-off with left-wing protesters outside a bar in 2019.

The suit, filed Thursday in federal court in Portland, seeks a civil jury trial for unspecified damages against Portland, Multnomah County, Mayor Ted Wheeler and District Attorney Mike Schmidt, as well as Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell, former Chiefs Jami Resch and Danielle Outlaw, two prosecutors and the detective who handled the case.

“Amidst the chaos in Portland, Mike Schmidt’s office prioritized the prosecution of Russell and Joey for their political engagement,” lead attorney D. Angus Lee said in a statement.

Lee said he intends to seek the $100 million in damages he listed in an earlier tort claim.

Circuit Judge Benjamin Souede threw out the charges halfway through the criminal trial against Gibson, 39, and Schultz, 53, ruling that video evidence showed the two had engaged only in heated rhetoric while others hurled drinks and brawled outside the Cider Riot patio in Northeast Portland.

In the new lawsuit, Lee argues that police, prosecutors and political leaders orchestrated the charges to suppress Gibson’s rallies, which frequently spiraled into left-versus-right street fights.

He also pointed to a protest prosecution policy instituted by Schidmt after the 2020 murder of George Floyd, which ordered his staff to stop prosecuting riot cases unless paired with other allegations such as theft or use of force. Schmidt’s office said the policy wasn’t retroactive.>>



<<The Portland Police Bureau on Thursday unveiled a fleet of drones that officers say will help them document crash scenes, locate fugitives and respond to emergencies such as bomb threats and active shooters. The Portland City Council approved the bureau’s use of drones in a yearlong pilot program in April, allocating $80,000 to the bureau to buy 12 drones to help the Traffic Division and Metro Explosive Disposal Unit. The fleet’s arrival comes the same week as City Auditor Simone Rede found the bureau had not fully addressed security concerns outlined in her review of the bureau’s use of surveillance technology during Portland’s mass racial justice protests in 2020.

Portland Police Sgt. Jim DeFrain, who’s overseeing the technology, said the drones will be used primarily to reconstruct traffic accidents and crime scenes. To use the drones in searches or emergencies such as an active shooter, officers will need approval from the police chief’s office. A commanding officer will also oversee their use.

The drones cannot be used for mass surveillance, facial recognition, harassing people and managing crowds under Oregon statutes governing aircraft operation rules. In 2020, the Portland City Council approved one of the strictest bans on the use of facial recognition software in the country.

The bureau will need approval from the city council to continue the program after the yearlong pilot ends next spring. Data related to use of the drones during the trial will be published periodically on the bureau’s website, DeFrain said.>>

<<The auditor’s review of the bureau’s surveillance tools, published in April of last year, found the bureau lacked proper guidelines for officers when using surveillance technology, resulting in officers gathering and keeping information based on their own discretion.

Officers collected personal information and social media posts about lawful demonstrators, which is prohibited under Oregon law.

Rede’s update to the audit this week found the bureau has made some progress by adopting a policy that provides guidance on who can access sensitive information related to a criminal case and how those records are kept.

Nearly every law enforcement agency within the Portland metro area uses drones, DeFrain said.>>



<<The three Vancouver police officers and Clark County deputy involved in the fatal shooting in a Safeway parking lot last month have been identified by the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office.

Colton Price, Brandon Riedel Aron Yoder were the three Vancouver officers identified in the shooting. Zach Nielsen from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office was also identified. The four officers have been placed on leave and the investigation into the shooting is ongoing.

On May 30, Joshua Wilson, 43 was spotted going into Safeway at Mill Plain Boulevard and Andresen Road in Vancouver. While he was in the store, officers arrived and “formed an arrest team” near his car in the parking lot, officials said. When he came out, Wilson ignored their orders to stop and ran off.

Authorities said videos show “Wilson reaching behind his back” and then is seen “pointing a pistol directly” at an officer. He “engaged with gunfire from three officers and one deputy,” officials said.

Despite officers rendering first aid to Wilson, he died at the scene “and did have a pistol in his possession.”

Videos of the incident will not be made public until the officer interviews are concluded, Chief Criminal Deputy Troy Brightbill of the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office said. Brightbill is also the commander of the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team.

Before the shooting, Wilson was being sought for a burglary on May 20 plus armed robberies in Vancouver on May 21 and 29, officials said.>>


<<They are:

Detective Colton Price of the Vancouver Police Department. With the department since 2012, he serves on the Safe Streets Task Force and is assigned as a detective on the Neighborhood Response Team.

Officer Brandon Riedel of the Vancouver Police Department since 2018, he is assigned to the East Precinct Patrol.

Detective Aaron Yoder of the Vancouver Police Department. With the department since 2015, he is assigned to the Neighborhood Response Team and is also a SWAT team member.

Detective Zach Nielsen of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. With the office since 2016, is assigned to the Sheriff’s Office Tactical Detectives Unit.>>



<<Ambulances in Multnomah County are arriving later and later, a result officials blame on a lack of paramedics to staff them. The crisis has become so drastic in some cases that an ambulance simply isn’t available when dispatchers ask for it.

Beginning in January, after reviewing data that showed the number of late ambulances had skyrocketed, the county began tracking such calls.

Now WW has obtained a list of those calls, which the county refers to as “level 0 incidents.” There have been 5,063 such incidents between Jan. 17, when the county first began collecting the data, and May 9, when WW first asked for it.

There’s been around 10,000 calls for medical assistance per month, according to a county report analyzing data up to March. That means, by rough approximation, that ambulances have been unavailable more than 10% of the time this year.

In one instance documented by the county in February, the system became so backed up that dispatchers had 17 calls requesting medical help and no ambulances available to send out.

American Medical Response, which contracts with Multnomah County to provide ambulance services, says the problem is a lack of staffing. It says calls are up while applications for new paramedics are down by more than 50%. “We can’t have as many ambulances as we want to, because there’s not enough paramedics,” says Randy Lauer, AMR’s vice president of operations for the Northwest region.

The county has declined to penalize AMR, despite the fact its ambulances’ response times were out of compliance with its contract. In a statement to WW last month, county health officer operations manager Aaron Monnig said the delays weren’t AMR’s fault.

“The pandemic wasn’t in their control, nor was the subsequent national workforce shortage,” Monnig said. “We’re working on different projects to help the system provide the right care at the right time with the right providers.”

The county recently began dispatching “basic life support” ambulances with two EMTs instead of paramedics on board. But AMR says that’s not enough to deal with the current crisis, and wants the county to change its policy requiring that the rest of its ambulances be staffed with two paramedics at all times. It prefers a system similar to that in Washington and Clackamas counties, where ambulances are required to have only one paramedic.

“That’s a lot of data showing that there’s no difference in outcome between a dual paramedic and a paramedic/EMT system. We’ve provided those studies to the county,” Lauer says. “It’s just they’re not willing to do it.”>>