It's been a couple of weeks since a judge released the transcript of the grand jury hearing into the Aaron Campbell case.
Campbell, a 25-year-old black man, was shot by a Portland police officer in January -- after cops were asked to check on him.
It's a racially charged case. Still, it's safe to assume few people have waded through the 450-page grand jury testimony. In it, officers explain in their own words exactly why they did what they did.
Kristian Foden-Vencil used the document to recreate parts of the testimony - and then asked Oregonians for their reactions.
A lot has been said about the last few moments of Aaron Campbell's life -- and why officer Ron Frashour pulled the trigger.
But this testimony makes it clear, there were actually a series of actions that led up to that final decision.
The judge never released an audio tape of the testimony. So what I did instead was to ask a few OPB staffers to read quotes from four key moments.
After each reading, I asked for the reaction of four Oregonians -- two black and two white, two male and two female.
You'll hear from them in a moment. But I want to start with a little background.
The day Campbell was shot, he was at the apartment of his girlfriend.
He'd spent the night drinking and he was mourning the death of his brother.
He had a gun, which he'd pointed at his head several times, and there were three young children in the home.
It was his girlfriend's mother who called 911 saying Campbell was suicidal.
| Joyce Harris|
Officer James Quackenbush responded to that call. He tells the grand jury that he reads Campbell's rap sheet on his patrol car's computer.
James Quackenbush: "It appears that there's two different case numbers, one in which he was a suspect and one in which he was arrested for attempted murder with a handgun. In time and experience you scan these records and certain things jump out at you pretty quickly."
Joyce Harris: "What immediately jumped out at me was there was a profile of this individual. The reason why they were called was not because he was a suspect. But that particular profile, gets embedded in the officer's head and so when they show up on the scene, they're operating from this information."
Joyce Harris is an educator and activist in Portland's black community.
Now we'll hear from white Portland Police officer Scott Westerman.
Scott Westerman: "I mean there are very few people on the planet that have been arrested for attempted murder and so that jumps out. That's some that every officer is going to want to know about. Especially the part about the handgun."
Shawn Blunn: "If he's not doing anything wrong. Then what's the point of going off a rap-sheet because that was from the past and people have the right to change."
That's Shawn Blunn, a black 21-year-old student from Portland Community College. And finally we'll hear from Guin Hillman a retired, white healthcare worker.
Guin Hillman: "Well, I was an ER nurse and this sounds like one of those situations where we get an influx of a crowd and they're rowdy. And we always would pause, just for a minute. I would pause, just to think, what do I want to do. I'm going into a strange situation, people are irrational. I don't know what I'm going to do so I've got to think about it."
Once Quakenbush and other officers arrive on the scene, they don't just knock on the door -- because of Campbell's history and a report of a gun.
Instead they surround the house and he looks out the window.
| Shawn Blunn|
Officer Ron Frashour, who took the fatal shot tells the jury, that concerns him:
Officer Ron Frashour: "To me that's somebody trying to gather their own intelligence. He's possibly counting how many officers there are. If it's a person that wants to escape, he's maybe trying to pick an escape route. If it's a person that wants to attack the police, he's possibly just trying to figure out where they are to attack them."
Guin Hillman: "I think I'd read it the same way. That he was either trying to get away or trying to figure out what he could do."
Scott Westerman: "He's possibly looking for an avenue of escape. He's possibly seeing if he's truely surrounded. He's possibly looking to count who the officers are, where and what his best vantage point is to have an officer kill him since apparently from the other testimony that was in fact his intent."
Joyce Harris: "To me it comes across as the police figuring out the worst and not even looking at the fact that, okay, there's all this going on outside and he's looking out the window saying 'what the heck is going on?'"
Shawn Blunn: "You can't just attack somebody because they're looking. If he never made a conscious effort to go after them why did they attack him?"
Eventually Officer James Quackenbush managed to talk to Campbell on the phone. He tells him that police didn't know of any illegal activity but that they'd been sent to check on his welfare.
Campbell just tells them to leave him alone.
But Quackenbush persists saying there are kids in the house and immediately, the children come out.
Officer David Kemple testifies that he's not sure if that's good news or bad news.
Officer David Kemple: "In my mind, with the kids in there, I consider them -- if the guy is hostile -- to be possible hostage type situation. Once I see the little kids out, I know that anybody -- that these kids are safe, that they are going to be to totally out of the situation, so that's good. But at the same time, in my mind, I'm thinking, "Okay, he just set the little kids out, so I'm" -- it's possible that he is going to come out shooting or something like that, because now you have little kids -- if he cares about them, he is going to get them out of the way just so they don't see it, or something doesn't happen to them."
Joyce Harris: "Sounds like a scizophrenic personality to me. It was real clear that those children were not hostages. The girlfriend was not a hostage. They create this, this possible scenario that's not based on anything in reality. Give people the benefit of the doubt at least don't jump to the worst case scenario and I thank that's what, part of what I see happening in this situation."
Scott Westerman: "Having the kids out of the house clearly is a good thing because there's no hostages that are there. But at he same time the officers have to look at all perspectives. And one of the perspectives that they've got to look at is maybe this guy is preparing for the worst. There is no one conclusion that somebody can draw based on those statements, so they have to prepare f or everything."
Guin Hillman: "I don't, I don't really know. That seems like a positive thing for the man to get the kids out, so he has some warm feelings going at least protection of his kids. I don't know what it means; I can't get inside his head to know what that means he's going to do."
Shawn Blunn: "They asked for the kids to be let go and he let them go. So what was the purpose of them using that as an excuse? I think that was just something that they think could have twisted the story around but no."
After the children walk out, police consider leaving.
But they figure they ought to check Campbell's state of mind.
Officer Quackenbush builds a rapport with Campbell and then Campbell comes out.
He walks backwards with his hands interwoven behind his head. But several officers, like Jeffrey Elias, testify he moves too fast and with too much self assurance.
Officer Jeffrey Elias: "Officer Lewton was giving him specific orders to put his hands up, and he wouldn't put his hands up. And at one point he said -- Officer Lewton said, you're going to get shot if you don't put your hands up. And he said something like, shoot me then, or fucking shoot me then. I can't remember exactly what he said. He said shoot me then. And Officer Lewton shot him with the bean bag."
Joyce Harris: "Wow, if he did say 'Shoot me' and then the officer shot him, you know there's a problem with that you know from my estimation. If I came out and I had my hands behind my head, that's a signal that I am trying to show you that I am putting my hands where you can see them. I mean if he wasn't being compliment and wanting to make sure that his hands were visible he wouldn't have put them behnd his head."
Guin Hillman: "Well I'm a little puzzled about the hands up. At first you said that he did have his hands up but behind his neck. And so when you say put your hands up maybe he's thinking that he's complying."
Shawn Blunn: "There's no way a gun can fit behind someone's head, I my opinion. Like to just be hidden. And then too like, you're on a suicidal call, so if you're telling somebody they're going to shoot you and they're saying just shoot me then It's two things either he was scared to do it himself and so he wanted you guys to do it or he just wanted to run himself in. And so I feel that they jumped the gun too fast."
Scott Westerman: "Why couldn't they have waited? Why couldn't they do things? This was a very rapidly evolving thing he comes out very, very quickly, he's got his hands up. But I will tell you that when you've got a person who is supposed to be armed, wants you to shoot him, wants to die, and you're giving him specific commands and he is not complying with those that elevates the risk significantly. So I will also say that when it comes to the action reaction principles, if he's got a gun strategically placed within his waistband one of the things that, had he not come out as quickly as he'd done, he would have been advised to come out without a shirt on, he would have been advised to come out in certain circumstances but Aaron Campbell escalated this by coming out on his own mcuh quicker than anybody expected."
That was Scott Westerman, the President of the Portland Police Union. Before him you heard from student Shawn Blunn, retired nurse Guin Hillman and Portland activist, Joyce Harris.
Here's how things ended. After Campbell was shot with a beanbag, he stumbled and officers say he began to run.
Officer Ron Frashour, the marksman on the scene, says Campbell then reaches down the back of his pants.
Frashour tells the jury quote: "I knew -- I knew he was grabbing his gun."
Campbell, who was unarmed, died at the scene.
The federal Department of Justice has launched a civil rights investigation.