The city of Portland unanimously agreed Wednesday to settle a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of Quanice Hayes, a Black teenager who was fatally shot by a police officer in 2017 while on his knees.
The city has agreed to pay $1.5 million to the Hayes family, as well as nearly $600,000 in attorneys fees and additional costs. As part of the agreement, the city admits no wrongdoing.
Despite no formal acknowledgement of wrongdoing, a majority of council members used the session to apologize to the Hayes family for both the shooting and how city officials had conducted themselves in the aftermath.
“I genuinely hope this settlement provides some level of relief after all the trauma and hardship the Hayes family has had to endure,” said Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “But let me be clear: what is happening today is not justice. It’s not accountability. This decision does nothing to fix our broken system.”
On Feb. 9, 2017, Officer Andrew Hearst shot Hayes, 17, three times with an AR-15 rifle from about 10 feet away as Hayes was on his knees with his arms raised. Police had cornered Hayes in a driveway in Northeast Portland following reports of armed carjackings in the area. Hayes was not armed when Hearst killed him. Police later found a replica gun nearby.
A grand jury later declined to charge Hearst for the shooting.
Related: Grand jury clears Portland officer who shot Black teen
“Every time this happens we know we are not seeing justice,” Hardesty said. “This is harming our community and making it increasingly difficult for Portlanders to trust their police bureau.”
Hardesty’s lengthy statement was punctuated by an audible disturbance outside her house that could be overheard on the video meeting. Her office said police had responded to a man who had been protesting the commissioner outside her home. The man was reportedly yelling at neighbors, who came out to defend the commissioner.
Sergeant Kevin Allen, with the Portland Police Bureau, said they received a call around 2:30 p.m. after someone was reportedly sprayed with bear mace. They arrested Eli F. Richey, 40, and booked him into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of unlawful use of mace in the second degree and assault in the fourth degree.
Allen said the officers did not have contact with Hardesty. Her office said she remained in her home while the disturbance was taking place.
Hayes’ family filed its lawsuit in June 2018 against both the city and Hearst, alleging the officer’s use of deadly force was “unreasonable and unjustifiable.” In response, the city attorney’s office pinned part of the blame for the death on Hayes and his mother, arguing Hayes was partially at fault because he’d ingested cocaine and not slept enough before the shooting.
Commissioner Carmen Rubio apologized for the legal response Wednesday, calling the reaction “horrifying and wrong.”
“No mother or parent member or family or friend should have to endure this kind of compounded trauma,” she said.
Commissioner Mingus Mapps also apologized to the family for the pain that the city had caused.
“The death of a child by a police contact is the ultimate nightmare for every Black parent,” Mapps said. “As a Black dad I know this deep in my bones. I also know no amount of money will ease the pain caused by the death of a child.”
While individual members of the council expressed remorse for how the city had handled affairs, Ashlee Albies, one of the attorneys representing the Hayes family, said the city overall seemed to accept Hearst’s actions.
“It became really clear that the city condoned officer Hearst’s conduct,” Albies said, noting a member of the police bureau had testified that Hearst was acting consistently with the bureau’s training and policy.
“The question I have is what is the city going to do different or going to do moving forward to ensure something like this does not happen to anybody else?”
Steven Hayes, Hayes’ uncle who’s representing his nephew’s estate in the lawsuit, told the council Wednesday that the settlement had failed to achieve one of the outcomes he most wanted: more accountability for Portland police officers. Hayes said he wanted to see Hearst removed from the force, or, at minimum, have his gun removed.
“Officer Hearst didn’t have any remorse in the deposition - and I sat across the room from him,” said Hayes. “I was deployed to Iraq a couple of times. That was the worse thing I had to endure: this man not showing any remorse for killing one of my family members”
In a deposition transcript, Hearst said that, at the time of the shooting, he believed Hayes had a real gun on him and said there was nothing he could have done differently given what he knew at the time. He testified to a grand jury that he believed the teenager was reaching for a concealed gun in his waistband when he fired.
Hearst remains with the Portland Police Bureau — a fact the Hayes family said they struggle to accept.
“The fact that Andrew Hearst still works for the Portland Police Bureau and me and my family have to navigate these streets every day is astounding,” said Terrence Hayes, Quanice’s cousin. “And the fact that we still have a mayor who has changed nothing and done nothing concerning these things is not surprising.”
In his remarks, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he, too, saw the need for broad change after the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old - though he remained vague about what this change should look like.
“Today is an opportunity to ask ourselves what will each of us do to improve the public structures and systems that cause us to be here today when other systems and interventions have failed.”
Wednesday’s settlement is among the largest amounts the city has paid out for a police officer killing an individual.