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Family To Sue Portland, 1 Year After Police Shot And Killed Their Son

UPDATE (Feb. 8, 4:33p.m. PST) — One day before the one-year anniversary of when a Portland Police officer shot and killed Quanice Hayes, his family hand-delivered a letter declaring its intent to sue the city of Portland.

“This is your notice that Venus and Steven intend to sue the city and the police officers involved for wrongfully causing Quanice’s death,” the family’s tort claim states.

State law requires the family file a notice to sue within a year.

Surrounded by family, Quanice’s mother, Venus Hayes, hand delivered the tort notice to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s chief of staff, Maurice Henderson, Thursday at Portland City Hall.

Venus Hayes speaks to media outside the Portland mayor's office Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. Hayes delivered notice of intent to sue the city and the Portland Police Bureau over the 2017 fatal police shooting of her 17-year-old son, Quanice Hayes.

Venus Hayes speaks to media outside the Portland mayor’s office Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. Hayes delivered notice of intent to sue the city and the Portland Police Bureau over the 2017 fatal police shooting of her 17-year-old son, Quanice Hayes.

Bryan M. Vance/OPB

Wheeler’s staff said the mayor was in east Portland “meeting with constituents” at a previously scheduled event. Still, members of the Hayes family criticized the mayor for not being there.

Terrance Hayes, Quanice’s cousin, said the fact that the mayor wasn’t there was indicative of the treatment the family has received from the city.

“They not really concerned, they don’t really care,” he said. “For them, the matter of a 17-year-old being killed is least important to the fact that another officer didn’t get an indictment.”

Wheeler is also Portland’s police commissioner. A spokesman for the mayor declined comment because of the pending litigation and referred questions to the city attorney’s office, which declined comment.

“Quanice Hayes was only 17 years old when he was killed and taken from a family and community and loved him dearly,” the tort states. “In a city where young black men are discriminated against at every stage of their interactions with police and the criminal justice system, we expect that the damages in this case far exceed the limitations set by the Oregon Tort Claims Act.”

Hayes, an African-American teen, was shot in the head and killed by Portland Police Officer Andrew Hearst on Feb. 9, 2017. He and other officers were responding to a report of an armed robbery.

Hearst fired his assault rifle three times, believing Hayes — who was on his knees when he was shot — was armed with a gun. At the time Hearst fired, officers had not seen a gun.

Police later found a fake gun nearby that Hayes had been carrying. Police say he pointed it at an individual near Northeast 82nd Avenue in Portland.

Last March, a grand jury did not indict Hearst, who has used lethal force once before.

The family’s tort claim said the shooting investigation process was one-sided and that the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office “presented evidence designed to vilify Quanice while painting the shooting officer in a highly positive light, making it seem as if that officer had no choice but to shoot Quanice,” the family’s claim states. “We disagree.”

In March, Portland Police confirmed Venus Hayes found out about her son’s death on social media.

Speaking at Portland City Hall on Thursday, Venus Hayes said pursuing litigation was not a difficult decision.

“Since no criminal charges were brought against Officer Hearst that there can be some kind of accountability, which is what we (are) lacking all over the country,” she said. “My son was just one, one kid.”

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