Jason Washington was shot by police in June carrying a gun that wasn’t his, according to records released by the Portland Police Bureau on Friday.
Portland State University officers arrived outside the Cheerful Tortoise bar in downtown Portland to an alcohol-fueled brawl among men who had been drinking heavily for hours while bouncing between several bars.
Washington, a Navy veteran and postal worker, had met two friends at the Cheerful Tortoise on the afternoon of Thursday, June 28.
Hours later, one of his friends handed Washington a handgun he’d been carrying.
Washington’s friend, who had already shoved a bouncer earlier in the evening, was drunk and told Washington he wanted to fight the men he had been arguing with at the Cheerful Tortoise.
They’d had so much alcohol that they were cut off from being served more drinks at one of the bars they’d gone to that day. A toxicology report shows Washington’s blood alcohol level was at 0.242 g/dL when he died.
“I told Jason that, you know, these guys are gonna fight, ‘cause we’re not avoiding it,” said Jeremy Wilkinson, Washington’s friend, according to a police report. “I said I’ll go do it and I took my, my, my gun and my holster and gave it to Jason.”
That gun — 9mm Walther PPQ pistol — would play a role in Washington’s death at the hands of two PSU police officers.
Law enforcement’s criminal investigation records and body camera footage from PSU Officers James Dewey and Shawn McKenzie released Friday revealed new details of the moments leading up to what would become the first campus officer-involved shooting at PSU. University leaders armed its officers in a controversial 2014 vote.
The videos and documents come one day after a Multnomah County grand jury decided not to charge Dewey and McKenzie. The grand jury determined the fatal shooting was a lawful act of self-defense and/or the defense of a third person.
Multnomah County grand juries have repeatedly exonerated officers for using deadly force while on duty, including the shooting at a Portland homeless shelter in April and the February 2017 death of an African-American teen.
Ryan Pratt, one of the friends out with Washington, told officers he met up with Wilkinson at his apartment at 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon. The two of them took an Uber to the Cheerful Tortoise to meet Washington. The three have been friends since their time in the Navy together.
Pratt told police the three men had been drinking heavily all afternoon and into the evening.
“While at the Cheerful Tortoise they all had beers before walking to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the Oregon State Beavers baseball game,” wrote homicide detective Todd Gradwahl who interviewed Pratt in his truck after the shooting.
“While at Buffalo Wild Wings they each had two shots of Pendleton Whiskey and one or two beers. They stayed at Buffalo Wild Wings until the game finished,” he wrote.
The game finished around 7:30 p.m. Afterward, the three men walked to the pool hall and betting lounge Rialto, where they had “one or two beers,” according to Pratt.
Pratt declined to provide further comment when contacted by OPB.
Detectives interviewed Derrial Peterson, the security guard at the betting lounge, a week after the shooting.
Peterson said he remembered Washington well, and that the two of them discussed their families that night.
“Washington described his love for his family and how things were going well for him right now,” the detectives wrote.
Peterson also told detectives that Washington appeared to be less intoxicated than his friend Wilkinson.
“Jason Washington told him that he needs to keep his wits about him because he never knows what is going to happen with Jeremy Wilkinson,” Peterson said.
The bartender said he was cutting both men off from being served any more alcohol. Wilkinson continued to drink his beer.
Peterson told police he intervened at that point and suggested to Wilkinson that he pay and leave.
Peterson tried to take Wilkinson’s beer. Wilkinson responded by wiping his wet hand on the bouncer, which prompted the bouncer to shove him to the ground.
At that point, according to Pratt, Wilkinson pulled up his shirt and showed the bouncer the firearm on his hip.
“I have one too,” Wilkinson said.
“I have one too,” the bouncer said.
According to the investigation, this is the same gun that would end up in Washington’s possession and prompt PSU officers to shoot.
As they left, “Mr. Peterson said he could hear Jason Washington chastising his friend about always getting them in trouble and asking him why he couldn’t just keep his mouth shut,” detectives wrote.
Having been cut off at the pool room, the men returned to the Cheerful Tortoise where they continued to drink and began arguing with people inside.
The argument continued outside.
At this point, Washington took possession of Wilkinson’s gun, holstering it to his hip. Wilkinson said he then began to fight with men outside the bar.
Body camera footage shows the two officers arriving in the midst of the drunken brawl early on June 29.
Washington can be seen on the tape attempting to stop several men from brawling. He’s seen with his arms extended attempting to keep the men apart.
The incident escalates when Wilkinson pushes another man to the ground and punches him. Washington is among the first to respond.
“Sir, sir,” Officer Dewey can be heard saying as he grabs Washington’s arm. “I got to have you back up.”
Washington, who had a valid concealed carry permit, pulls a man up from out of the pack and falls to the ground.
“He’s got a gun,” someone can be heard saying, referring to the gun on Washington’s hip. Washington gets up and walks away from the fight.
It’s unclear in the video whether he has the gun in his hand.
“Drop the gun!” an officer yells several times. “We’ll shoot you!”
One second after that warning, Officer McKenzie shoots.
Wilkinson can be seen in the video, lying next to Washington’s body. The police report shows Washington had sustained gunshot wounds in right knee, his back, left chest, the right side of his neck and left cheek.
Wilkinson tries to get up and stumbles, falling to the ground.
“Holy sh** Michelle’s going to kill me,” Wilkinson later told police, referring to Washington’s wife. “I gave him my gun. He got in trouble for that, oh my gosh.”