Jason Erik Washington, who was black, was shot by PSU campus officers June 29. It’s the first officer-involved shooting at Portland State.
“What this community experienced on the morning of June 29, 2018 is not uncommon in this city and around the country,” said Andre Washington, Jason’s brother, at a press conference Friday. “Black men being gunned down by white police officers is an affliction in America.”
The family is also demanding the two officers involved, identified by the university as Shawn McKenzie and James Dewey, be fired. McKenzie and Dewey were placed on paid administrative leave following the shooting.
Washington said no one at the university has been in contact with the family and that he still has more questions than answers.
The university issued a statement after the rally, saying that PSU offers its “deepest condolences to Jason Washington’s family.”
“We fully recognize the severity of what has occurred,” PSU’s statement said. “We understand there are a lot of unanswered questions right now, and it’s very important to answer them. That’s why it’s important to have multiple comprehensive investigations.”
Andre Washington would not say whether the family intends to file a lawsuit against the university.
Keyaira Smith, a witness who recorded cellphone video of the incident, told OPB that he was “trying to be a good Samaritan” by breaking up a fight in the moments before he was shot.
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 at the time of his death.
PSU’s board of trustees cast a controversial vote in 2014 to employ sworn armed police officers on campus. University leaders said at the time that campus officers were not equipped to respond to safety needs on campus.
The decision drew backlash from students who worried it would make the university less safe. PSU’s student union has since renewed calls to disarm campus officers.
“We are demanding that Portland State University disarm its officers immediately and retrain its officers to deal with conflict without the use of weapons,” Washington said.