Jason Erik Washington, the man killed by armed Portland State University officers early Friday morning, had a valid concealed carry permit at the time of his death.
Two of Washington’s colleagues and at least one witness say Washington, 45, was black.
Keyaira Smith, a witness who took video of the moments leading up to Washington’s death, told OPB that he was “trying to be a good Samaritan” by breaking up a fight.
Video footage shows what appears to be a black object attached to Washington’s right side as he’s seen pulling one man off another. Two PSU police officers can also be seen.
“The gun slipped out of the holster when he had fallen, and I think he may have tried to retrieve it,” Smith said. “Then they said ‘gun.’”
That’s when police fired, she said.
Sgt. Brent Laizure, a spokesman for the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed that Washington had a valid concealed carry permit.
Washington was a Navy veteran and an employee with the United States Postal Service since 1998. He worked with the collections unit as a letter carrier at the main office in downtown Portland, where he also served as the union shop steward.
Washington was married with three kids and one grandchild.
“He loved those kids, he was crazy about them,” said David Norton, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Branch 82. Norton knew Washington for seven years.
“He was a big personality. He always had a lot to say. He kind of had a larger-than-life personality. He was always very animated and exuberant. And if you ever worked with the guy or knew the guy, you would never forget him.”
Norton said Washington was with co-workers the day he was shot.
PSU officials are already preparing to defend the university against a lawsuit. Leaders convened a closed-to-the-public executive session Friday afternoon to discuss potential litigation. The session came even as leaders knew little about the victim, other than that he likely wasn’t a PSU student.
Multiple agencies, including the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office and the Portland Police Bureau Homicide Detail, are conducting an investigation into the incident. PSU and PPB have not officially identified Washington or provided many details about the incident.
University President Rahmat Shoureshi said he’s asked the university’s Campus Public Safety Chief to conduct an internal assessment and evaluation of the incident.
The university’s board of trustees cast a controversial vote in 2014 to employ sworn armed police officers on campus.
“Everyone who has expressed dissent over the years to the armament of CPSO and creation of a police force knew that one day this decision would result in deadly violence, and we know that it will continue to happen so long as campus security remain a deputized and armed police force,” PSUSU wrote on its Facebook page. “There’s no way around it – this is how policing works.”
Rob Manning and Amelia Templeton contributed to this report.