The Portland City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a settlement for Don Perkins, a homeless man shot by police in 2017 after he called 911 and reported he was overdosing on pills.
Two Portland police officers, Roger Walsh and Bradley Clark, shot Perkins after seeing him toss what they believed was a pistol out of his van and then reach for it twice. The gun was a replica. Perkins was struck in the hand and the abdomen and survived the shooting
The City Council had initially planned to vote on the settlement without public comment or council debate, until Dan Handelman, with the grassroots group Portland Copwatch, pulled the item from the Council’s consent agenda.
Handelman urged the Council to allow public discussion of all settlements involving police use of force.
“There is no public discussion of these very high-profile incidents that are of concern to the community,” he said.
The settlement passed without discussion from the Council, after Mayor Ted Wheeler read a brief statement.
Perkins was one of two people Portland officers shot on the same day who had what turned out to be fake guns. The other, 17-year-old Quanice Hayes, died.
Perkins had sought $1.3 million. The city settled the case for $60,000.
His injuries have required multiple surgeries and caused pain and numbness in his arm, permanent injury to his lungs and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the civil lawsuit Perkins filed in U.S. district court.
The lawsuit alleged that Perkins’ shooting was the result of a pattern of officers using excessive force against people suffering mental health crises. The suit also noted that one of the officers, Bradley Clark, had shot another man in a mental heath crisis, Marcus Lagozzino, in 2010.
In 2012, the city settled a lawsuit with the United States Department of Justice that alleged officers had a pattern of using more force than needed against people with actual or perceived mental illness.
City attorneys responding to Perkins’ lawsuit said that Perkins’ actions had put the officers at immediate risk of death or injury, and their decision to use lethal force was reasonable under the circumstances.
They said Perkins had ignored officers orders not to reach for the replica gun, and had yelled at officers that they were going to have to kill him.
The officers provided medical aid after he was shot, applying a tourniquet, according to the city’s response.
The $60,000 settlement payment from the city is just a fraction of the $358,719 Perkins’ listed as his past and future medical costs.
The family of Quanice Hayes has also filed a civil lawsuit against the city, alleging that poor police training beforehand and contradictory commands at the time of the confrontation caused the teenager’s death.