The Multnomah County District Attorney announced on Wednesday that Portland police officer Curtis Brown will face no charges for shooting and killing Michael Ray Townsend. District Attorney Mike Schmidt sent out a statement saying a grand jury declined to indict Brown.

Townsend called 911 on June 24 seeking help for suicidal ideations. He told an operator he had the means to hurt himself.

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According to the district attorney’s office, Townsend told responding officers and paramedics that he wanted to go to the hospital. When Officer Brett Emmons told Townsend he would need to be patted down, Townsend reached for his pocket and refused the search, according to Schmidt’s statement.

Security camera footage shows police officers and paramedics talking to Michael Ray Townsend moments before being shot and killed by Portland police officer Curtis Brown.

Security camera footage shows police officers and paramedics talking to Michael Ray Townsend moments before being shot and killed by Portland police officer Curtis Brown.

Courtesy of the Portland Police

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“Mr. Townsend then pulled a sharp-ended screwdriver out of his pocket,” the statement said. “Witnesses heard Mr. Townsend threaten Officer Brown and saw Mr. Townsend move towards the officer.”

Security camera footage of the shooting shows first responders move abruptly away from Townsend and Brown draws his firearm. Townsend stands up and advances toward Brown, appearing to hold a weapon in his hands. Brown then shoots Townsend who, according to the district attorney’s office, died in the ambulance en route to the hospital.

In the early 2000s, Townsend was diagnosed with bipolar depression and schizophrenia. His sister, Rachel Steven, previously told OPB that right up until the day he was killed, her brother struggled to get help for his mental health.

Michael Ray Townsend with his younger sister, Rachel Steven.

Michael Ray Townsend with his younger sister, Rachel Steven.

Courtesy of the family / Courtesy of the family

She said instead of finding the mental health help he needed in Portland, Townsend instead wound up in and out of jail, where his mental health declined further. Steven said she thinks her brother was terrified of going back to jail.

According to medical records reviewed by OPB, Townsend’s June 24 call for help was at least the 14th time he had called 911 or sought mental health help since moving to Portland in 2015. An ambulance had brought him to the Legacy Good Samaritan emergency department just two days earlier for suicidal ideations, but Townsend checked himself out after he didn’t meet the requirements for a psychiatric hold,

Townsend was at least the second person killed this year while in the midst of a mental health crisis, and among the 43 people killed by a Portland police officer since Kendra James was shot and killed in 2003. Of the more than 60 officers involved in those shootings, zero have been indicted or disciplined.

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Portland police killed 2 people this year. Both sought mental health care before their deaths

When police shot and killed Michael Ray Townsend, it reinvigorated community calls for police to no longer dispatch to these types of calls, while bringing added pressure on the city to speed up its rollout of policing alternatives like Portland Street Response. Townsend’s and Delgado’s medical records show how the city and county’s under-resourced health care system bounces people suffering from untreated addiction and mental health needs from crisis to crisis. Their cases also show how health care workers often successfully deescalate the most urgent situations, but fail to meaningfully help in the days and weeks that follow.