Justice for Keaton Otis

Details of evidence in the killing of Keaton Otis by officers of the Hotspot Enforcement Action Team of the Portland Police Bureau. Campaign to get Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber to authorize the state Attorney General to hold an independent inquiry into the shooting.

❏ Did Keaton Otis have a gun?

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THE Taurus Millenium PT111 semi-automatic allegedly used by Keaton Otis to shoot a cop fired rounds with copper, gold-colored casings. The Glock-17 semi-automatics used by the police shooters of Keaton Otis fired rounds with silver casings.

After the shooting, detectives collected 32 silver casings. Each was carefully recorded in the crime scene before the car was towed nine hours after the shooting.

No gold casings were found.

There were none found in the Corolla from which Keaton Otis allegedly fired twice. There were none found in the road, on the pavement or the gutter next to the car in hours of painstaking searching.

Two days later detectives again searched the Corolla at the PPB’s Rivergate Vehicle Storage. They found one brass-colored casing.

Detective Kammerer wrote in his report: “We also located one brass-colored 9mm shell casing which was inconsistent in appearance to Portland Police Bureau issued ammunition. I believed this shell casing to have been ejected from the gun fired by Keaton Otis.”

Four days later the detectives returned to the vehicle storage to search again for the second casing. “Detective Slater and I removed the front seats and disassembled the dashboard area in order to access the venting system inside the vehicle in an attempt to locate a second shell casing. Despite extensive efforts, we were unable to locate an additional shell casing inside the vehicle,” wrote Detective Kammerer.

No evidence was presented to the Grand Jury to indicate the shell casing had, in fact, been ejected from the Taurus.

A close examination of the publicly-available police documents and live video of the shooting raises further serious doubt that Keaton Otis had a gun and fired it at officers.

❏ None of the independent witnesses to the shooting report seeing Keaton Otis fire a gun.

❏ The officers of HEAT say Keaton Otis, after being tazed by three officers, leaned across the Corolla from the front seat to the car’s glove compartment. He pulled out a purple Crown Royal bag. Moving over to the passenger seat, squirming to put his back against the passenger door, Keaton Otis then fired two shots from the gun inside the bag… hitting Officer Burley, who said he was at least 10 feet away from the car, in each thigh.

Crown Royal bags featured prominently at the Grand Jury, in lurid descriptions about how they are used by gangsters to stash their drugs. But the Crown Royal bag from which Keaton Otis allegedly fired did not appear.

And no evidence was presented to show that it had been tested for either gun or drug residues. No evidence was presented to show Keaton Otis had ever touched it.

Although they were firing at Keaton Otis from a range of as close as 3 feet — according to one of the shooters — none of the shooters saw the gun or could describe it.

Indeed, they say they not only did not see it, they all quite specifically deny ever seeing the gun as they describe facing Keaton Otis’s alleged shots.

And none report seeing it on the driver’s seat as they looked down on Keaton Otis’s prostrate body inside the Corolla. So, none of them could describe the gun.

Officer Foote shouted, “gun!” Officer Polas told Detective Kammerer. Polas, p17

But Officer Foote, looking in through the driver’s-side window as Keaton Otis allegedly reached across the car, says he never saw a gun and he heard another officer shout “gun”.Foote, p14/18

Officer DeFrain, who says he saw Keaton Otis lean over to get the gun before firing 15 shots at Keaton Otis, only saw the explosions from a gun. He didn’t see a gun he said later. DeFrain, p37

Officer Cody Berne, who fired 11 shots that day down at a prostrate Keaton Otis, also denies seeing the gun or a muzzle flash, only a hand and an arm outstretched as if holding a gun. Berne p28

Officer Andy Polas, who fired six shots, told detectives, “I did not see a gun in his hand.” Polas, p24

Officer Pat Murphy fired the taser, through the passenger-side rear window, which most likely hit Keaton Otis across the neck. Asked, at the Grand Jury, if he ever saw a gun he replied, “I did not”. Grand Jury, p215, line 25

Officer Aaron Dauchy beanbagged Keaton Otis and was with Officer Brian Dale when he and Officers Matt Delenikos and Bill Shaw moved to take Keaton Otis’s body into custody.

Officer Dauchy says he looked into the Corolla and reports to investigating detectives, “there’s nothing in the car”. Dauchy, p13

Only HEAT’s sergeant, Don Livingston, standing at the driver’s-side door and holding a taser, says he did see a gun, but his description is ambiguous and vague Livingston, p18. “He’s holding the gun — He’s pointing it in our direction. From where I’m standing I can see that it’s pointed not at me, but it’s pointed more towards where Officer DeFrain is standing… at that point I realized I’ve got something in my hand that is not adequate… I throw it to the ground… I’m gonna use my engine block as cover, I’m gonna draw my gun.”

He adds: “I didn’t see a muzzle flash, but I saw his wrist break back after, when I heard the shot, I saw his wrist crack back at the same time, consistent with recoil after you shoot a gun. And that’s what I saw twice coming out of the vehicle.” Livingston, p19

At the Grand Jury Sergeant Livingston describes seeing the gun come out of the driver’s-side window: “The next thing I know is, I see — I don’t see how it happened or where he got it, if he had it in his hands before — I see a gun come up over the top of the window above the door. It looks like it’s still inside the vehicle, itself.

“And it’s pointing — I’m standing next to Jim. It looks like it’s pointing right at Jim. I’m standing close to the car, but Jim is standing to my right. I look at the angle of the gun, and I think it’s pointed at Jim.” Grand Jury, p79, lines 19-25

So, lying on his back, hunched up against the passenger door, with the claws of at least one tazer embedded in his right forearm, Keaton Otis pulls out a Crown Royal bag from the glove compartment and fires the gun twice out of the driver-side window down at Officer Burley’s thighs. And hits him twice. That is the claim of the officers.

No evidence was presented to the Grand Jury to indicate that Keaton Otis had any gun-shot or drug residues on his hands or his body.

❏ The injuries to Keaton Otis as recorded at the autopsy and detective reports do not make comfortable reading. But they do raise questions about where he was in the car as he was shot.

According to the officers, Keaton Otis was lying across the front passenger seat with his back to the passenger door firing the gun with his arm outstretched. Keaton Otis was right-handed. His right arm had tazer claws embedded in it.

But many of the shots hit him in the left of his body.

Keaton Otis’s father, who viewed his son’s body, says his son suffered many shots to hands and forearms, particularly the left arm. He is convinced his son had his hands up as the officers opened fire. The video records him shouting, “I have my hands up”.

Detective Madden in his “word picture” of the crime scene describes “many injuries to the left hand, wrist and lower arm”. He raises the question that these injuries were “possible defensive wounds”.

“When the ME presented the left hand for viewing, there were several, perhaps as many as six wounds visible that were apparent gunshot wounds. The left wrist was noticeably swollen and possibly broken. It could not be determined at the scene what were entrance, exit and/or possible defensive wounds.” Detective reports, p49

Dr Karen Gunson, in her autopsy, recorded all the gunshot wounds to Keaton Otis.

Of the 23 wounds, 15 were to Keaton Otis’s left side. Two hit Keaton Otis in the left arm plus five in left wrist and left hand.

The shot that was fatal, entered his left chest, passed through the left lung, the pericardial sac, transected the pulmonary artery and aorta before coming to rest in the right shoulder.

Was Keaton Otis lying withhis back when he was shot? Or, was he sitting in the driver’s seat with his hands up?

❏ If, as the officers say, Keaton Otis was firing at them with his arm outstretched it seems, at best, odd that when he dropped the gun as he was shot it should land perfectly on the driver’s seat, and not on the floor.

❏ The Taurus Millenium PT111 allegedly used by Keaton Otis had been stolen four years earlier.

It was traced to an elderly gentleman, a Mr Heinz, who had purchased it in 2004. In April 2006 Mr Heinz reported a burglary where other firearms were stolen from his Gresham home along with his car.

The semi-auto was not one of the firearms reported as stolen. Mr Heinz told investigators he believed the gun had been in the stolen vehicle, but he had not realized this at the time of the burglary. He had never reported the gun as stolen.

It came to light again after four years on the evening of Wednesday 12 May 2010.

After all the mayhem, it was discovered by investigating detectives sitting on the driver’s seat of the Toyota and labelled exhibit #67 at just after 7:30pm.

The gun was a Taurus Millenium PT111, 9mm Luger calibre, double-action, semi-automatic, serial number TVK95611.

To fire it first time, you need to pull back the slide and manually cock the gun. To fire the gun you need to manually pull the trigger each and every time. This, it is alleged, Keaton Otis did while a tazer was embedded in his right forearm.

Where had the gun been in the previous four years during which the owner, responsible for this lethal weapon, irresponsibly simply forgot all about it? Had the car thieves found the gun? Had Mr Heinz’s car been recovered? If so, when, by whom? Had they found the unreported stolen Taurus? Had a rogue police officer found the gun and kept it for just such a day as Wednesday 12 May 2010?

If Keaton Otis did not have possession of the gun, then how did it get into the Corolla? There is an alternative scenario that, at least, raises more doubts and questions.

Officers Dale and Dauchy who earlier that day had been with the HEAT officers in their informal HQ at nearby Starbucks were among the first to arrive on the scene after the shooting. A coterie of some of Portland’s most violent officers converged quickly on the crime scene.

They were very anxious to reverse a call made by Sergeant Livingston to the PPB’s Strategic Emergency Response Team, SERT.

After minutes of seeming confusion, the bizaare beanbagging of Keaton Otis’s body seems to be staged with the sole aim of providing the reason to keep SERT officers away from the crime scene.

On their arrival, SERT officers would have undoubtedly taken over control of the entire scene. Officers like Shaw, Delenikos and Dauchy — all close associates of the HEAT officers — would have been moved to one side and away from car, the body of Keaton Otis and influence over the post-shooting events.

In 2005 Officer Shaw had been one of three officers involved in the shooting of a homeless African American, Vernon Allen. Later in 2010, Officers Delenikos and Shaw will beat and taser a young black student to unconsciousness.

A minute after the beanbagging — a complete farce, had it not been so cruel — the call to SERT is cancelled.

Officers Shaw and Delenikos took control of the inner-perimeter of the crime scene, controlling who came in and and who went out. And then someone closes the rear door of the Corolla… after leaning in.

Officer walking, door open

Officer walking, door closing

door closed

The sequence of pictures from the video (right, top to bottom) show the first officer starting his walk with the Corolla passenger door open, the first officer returning from the center of Halsey as the second officer walks while the door closes behind him, and, finally, both officers returning together to the group with the passenger door now closed.

An officer strides out from the middle of the crowd gathered around the body and boldly and purposefully walks towards NE Halsey and out into the middle of the road where he seems to talk into his shoulder radio.

Ten seconds after he breaks away, a second officer also starts to walk towards Halsey. In about 20 seconds the first has turned around and the two have met on the corner of Halsey, seemingly exchanging brief words and returning back into the gathering of officers around the body of Keaton Otis.

The sequence is clearly visible on the video — between 6:20 minutes in and 6:50 minutes in. Before the officer starts his walk to the middle of Halsey, the passenger door of the Corolla is clearly open. By the time the two officers return, the door is closed.

While the two officers are taking their walk, at just before 6:30 minutes into the video, a shadow appears to move from the group to behind the Corolla’s passenger door, bend over and look or reach into the car.

At 6:31 the door closes.

Is all this significant? Is there an obvious explanation? Probably. Maybe not.

Or, is it interfering with a crime scene? Are the officers trying to divert the attention of the person recording the video or are they calling up medical? Do the officers even know they are being recorded? Is the officer approaching the car just curious, or taking an opportune moment? Is the door closed to make moving around easier?

Or, is this when the gun Keaton Otis allegedly used arrives on scene and is placed on the front seat to be found an hour later?

One would hope that such an outrageous suggestion would be out of order. But this was Portland and the PPB, 2010, in the wake of Aaron Campbell, and officers of the likes of Frashour, Chris Humphreys, suspended for beanbagging a 12-year-old girl along with Officer Aaron Dauchy and marches by hundreds of PPB officers defending their right to terrorize the people of Portland as of right, without question.

So, if there is serious doubt that Keaton Otis had a gun and shot Officer Chris Burley, who else could have shot Officer Burley? Perhaps Officer Burley shot himself.

The issue is, there are just too many questions, too many doubts about the killing of Keaton Otis.

Now is the time for a full, rigorous and transparent investigation by a credible, respected and independent authority… which will not accept the brush offs of the chief of police and his PPB, which will ask the questions the investigating detectives never asked and which will turn over stones the PPB was more than happy to leave undisturbed.

The good officers of the PPB deserve better, they need to be rid of the rogues. The good people of Portland deserve a police in which they can have trust and no longer fear.

Written by pifactory

January 27, 2013 at 8:06 pm

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