The Multnomah County District Attorney released transcripts Monday from the grand jury review of the death of an African-American teen shot by a Portland Police officer in February.
The transcripts include statements from 27 people, including the officer who shot and killed Quanice Hayes, other officers who witnessed the shooting, civilians who had reported being robbed by a suspect who matched Hayes’ description, and detectives who investigated Hayes’s death.
In the transcript, Officer Andrew Hearst said he did not see a gun before he fired three times on 17-year-old Quanice Hayes, but that he believed Hayes was reaching for a weapon.
The incident began around 7 a.m., Feb. 9 when man called 911 to report being held at gunpoint and robbed.
Armando Suarez told the grand jury he was homeless and had been sleeping in his car near 82nd Avenue when a person knocked on his window.
“I wasn’t only robbed at gunpoint, I was held hostage for an extended period of time,” Suarez said.
Suarez described seeing “a .45 caliber gun coming at me,” and hearing a man say “you’re lucky you’re not dead right now.”
Suarez told the grand jury that the man tried to get him to drive his car around the neighborhood, but the gas tank was empty. When he realized Suarez was homeless, he took his food stamp card and a vest, took two cigarettes out of Suarez’s pack, returned the rest and then left. Suarez called the police.
Shortly after, officers received two more 911 calls from people nearby. A woman called to report a young man had broken into her car, and another woman reported that a young black man was pounding on the door of her house and would not leave.
Two officers found Quanice Hayes outside the third caller’s house and attempted to arrest him, but he ran from them.
Officer Andrew Hearst testified that he responded to a call for back-up from other officers who were searching for a suspect and had asked for a rifle operator to join them.
Hearst said he never saw Hayes holding a gun. But he’d heard a description of the suspect’s weapon, with a “desert camo frame and a black slide,” in a report over his radio.
Those details convinced him “this guy absolutely has a gun,” Hearst told the grand jury.
Hearst said he was also concerned by a radio report that the suspect had held the waistband of his pants as he ran from officers.
“That tells me that this is an extra dangerous situation because the person is keeping that weapon with them,” he said.
Police eventually cornered Hayes in the backyard of an East Portland home.
Hearst and numerous other officers had surround Hayes, who was complying with orders to crawl toward officers on his knees.
Hearst said he warned Hayes, “If you reach for your waistband, I will shoot you.”
Then Hayes “reaches to the front of his waistband, and I fired my rife,” Hearst told the grand jury.
“I can’t wait, because if I let him get his hand on his gun, he will be able to pull that gun out and shoot me or my coworkers before I’m able to react to it,” Hearst said.
Officers who were there with Hearst told grand jury members they, too, had warned Hayes multiple times after he had lowered his arms to some degree while they confronted him.
Lt. Richard De Land, the commander in charge of the East Precinct morning shift, had arrived on the scene and was among the officers who witnessed the shooting.
DeLand told the grand jury that Hayes was just moments away from being taken into custody when Hearst shot him.
“All he needed to do was crawl another four or five feet and they would have him go all of the way down on the ground and officers would move in and put handcuffs on him,” De Land said.”
De Land said that at that point, Hayes stopped crawling, and started moving his hands.
“I’ll tell you that this first reach that he made for me, my impression was that he was reaching down to pull up his pants,” De Land testified.
De Land said Hayes moved his hands a second time “as if he was reaching for a pocket,” or “going to something that was in his waistband,” prompting De Land to step out of the line of fire, concerned Hayes was reaching for a weapon.
Detectives later found a replica gun, desert camo colored, two feet from Hayes’ body. It could only fire BBs, but the orange tip indicating the gun was a fake had been removed.
Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Donald Rees asked Hearst where he aimed after he decided to shoot Hayes.
“I aimed at the largest portion of him, somewhere between his shoulders and his waist,” the officer testified.
During a news conference last week, Hayes’ mother, Venus Hayes, said she learned from her son’s death certificate that he was shot in the head.
“How many times did you fire the gun?” Rees asked, during the grand jury proceedings.
“I fired three times,” Hearst replied.
“And why did you stop shooting?” Rees asked.
“I stopped until I started to see him fall on his face until I knew that he couldn’t get that gun,” Hearst responded.
Hearst said those actions were consistent with his training as a police officer.
Later in the proceeding, Rees asked the officer if he had reflected on the incident in the time since it had happened.
Hearst said he had, and that he stood by his decision to use force.
“With all of the information I knew up to that moment, there was no doubt in my mind he had a gun,” Hearst said. “And through his actions in those final moments, I believed that he was going to pull that gun on us.”
Hearst said he believed he needed to fire his weapon to defend himself and his coworkers.
The grand jury cleared Hearst in the shooting March 21. The day after Hearst was cleared, the Hayes family called for a federal investigation into the incident.
“I would like the community to stand with us, with me and my family,” Venus Hayes said during the March 22 news conference.
“Quanice was on his knees when he was shot in the head and in the chest,” she said. “I think that’s important when anybody wants to say that he was this dangerous robber.”