Agencies: Portland Police Bureau Oregon
Last updated: 6 months ago
In the most recentand controversial--case, at about 3:00 AM on February 22, a security guard at a southeast Portland motel called the police claiming a man was abusing a child in one of their rooms. According to the February 26 Portland Tribune, the police arrived two minutes later and burst into the room where Byron Hammick, 26, was allegedly harming a three-year-old boy. Witnesses told the media that the officers told Hammick to get away from the boy and shots were soon fired, killing Hammick. The boy's mother returned to the motel hours later, apparently not knowing what was going on. Hammick's family had gathered at the scene, only to be held back by police tape. The family admits Hammick had a past history with drugs, but claims that he was not violent. The coroner said Hammick had PCP and meth in his system.
The two primary officers in this incident were Stephen Mosier (#1683) and Christopher Gilbert (#34017). Mosier has been on the force since 1970, but took 18 years off for stress leave after a shooting in the early '80s.
This incident is particularly disturbing because police fired a gun at a suspect with a child in his arms just weeks after the noted ten-year anniversary of the shooting of Nathan Thomas, a boy shot along with his captor in January, 1992. Thomas' death supposedly devastated the police and brought about changes in responding to emergency situations, but this incident shows otherwise. The March 8 Orego-nian notes a third officer, Paul Jensen (#16456), who had been at the Thomas incident, was also present when Hammick was killed, and wanted to talk to Hammick to avoid "a repeat."
The article says that another officer, Rick White, arrived with a less-lethal "bean bag" shotgun at the same time Mosier decided he "couldn't wait." Mosier smashed the already broken motel room window, entered the room, and shot Hammick, who was on the floor holding the boy.
Hammick's family and leaders of the African American community expressed outrage, insisting that the police could have found non-lethal means to subdue Hammick. Clergy members called a news conference, at which Rev. Roy Tate proclaimed, "If three trained public police offiers cannot subdue one suspect that's half on the ground, that has no weapon, then we've got a strong problem" (Oregonian, March 9).