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Unarmed Black Man with His Hands Behind His Head Shot and Killed by Portland Police

February 18, 2010

This unarmed man was also attacked by the police dog when he came out of his apartment.  Apparently relatives called 911 when they feared for their relative’s safety after he was expressing extreme grief over the death of his brother, so what happens when police show up?  Well, the 29-year old unarmed black man ends up being shot and killed by police and attacked by the police dog while he lay on the ground, falling from the gunshot wound to the back.

The police officer in question says that the man looked like he was reaching for his gun, so his hands must not have been behind his head the whole time, but the fact remains that the man was unarmed and had been supposedly a suicide:

Officers were sent to Campbell’s apartment after relatives called 911 to say he was upset over his brother’s death from heart disease, that he had a gun, and wanted police to kill him.

At the scene, officer James Quackenbush tried to reach Campbell by cell phone but couldn’t get a voice connection, so he tried texting him and was able to reach him that way.

Campbell told Quackenbush he had no intention of killing himself.

“Thanks Aaron, I appreciate your help. I’m truly sorry about your Brother, can u promise me u won’t hurt yourself-Jim,” Quackenbush wrote.

By that time Campbell’s girlfriend and her three young children were out of the apartment and were no longer in harm’s way.

Documents released by the police show that the commander at the scene — Sgt. Liani Reyna — believed the crisis at that point was over.

She is quoted as saying “I’m ready to walk away from this, we don’t need to be here.”

But then something went awry.

Campbell emerged from the apartment with his hands on his head. Officers told him to put his hands in the air instead, and when he didn’t comply they pelted him with nonlethal beanbag rounds. As Campbell began to run away, he reached toward his waistband, and an officer shot him with an AR-15 rifle.

The body lay in the parking lot for more than half an hour before a special weapons team called to the scene determined Campbell was dead.

Adding to outrage over the shooting is the fact that as police were trying to get Cambpell to raise his hands above his head they sent a police dog after him. The police report released this week showed the dog had bitten Campbell on the leg as he lay on the ground.

A Multnomah County grand jury ruled the use of deadly force against Campbell fell within guidelines because the officer who shot him believed he was going for a gun. But the grand jury took the unusual step of writing a letter to District Attorney Michael Schrunk sharply criticizing police for the way they handled the incident.

And when the police are called in to help, they kill him?  Why was he attacked by the police dog as he lay on the ground fatally wounded by the police shooter?  Why didn’t anyone try to stabilize his condition after he was shot instead of leaving him on the ground to die?  Officers waited a half hour before even moving his body after he was shot?

We all acknowledge that people do things that may not be smart in the face of a gun barrel, and reaching toward his belt was a mistake, but why did the victim remain unattended for a half hour?  Even though the District Attorney Michael Schrunk was criticized, a grieving young, unarmed black man was shot by police officers who were called in to help prevent his family’s fears of suicide.  Aaron Campbell was shot in the street and left to die.

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