The killing of Keaton Otis
HOURS AFTER PORTLAND’s mayor sacked his police chief, officers killed a young black man — stopped at random — during the evening rush hour¹, The killing of Keaton Otis, a detailed review.
Keaton Otis died in his mother’s Toyota Corolla barely one hundred yards off two of Portland’s busiest streets at just after 6pm². Three officers had each tazed him twice. He was then shot 23 times in a seven-second barrage by three other officers. Nine further shots missed, one ricocheting into a Radioshack two blocks away.
Keaton Otis (right) had been stopped at Portland’s NE Halsey and NE 6th less than three minutes previously.
Keaton Otis had no criminal record. There was no contraband in his car. There were no drugs or alcohol in his blood. He was a recluse who suffered from depression. He was stopped, officers later claimed, because he failed to signal a turn 100 feet in advance.
They admitted it was nothing more than an excuse.
The public lynching was recorded on the i-phone of a witness.
Seven officers of the Hot Spot Enforcement Team (HEAT)³ murdered Keaton Otis in a military-style, pre-meditated assassination of an innocent. Other known and notorious officers colluded in the organized cover-up⁴.
HEAT was under the direct control of the chief-of-police Rosie Sizer sacked that morning by the city’s mayor Sam Adams. ⁵.
It was weeks after police shot, in the back, an African-American man with his hands on his head while walking backwards under police command… for being distraught and suicidal⁴. Portland city is still trying to uphold the shooter’s dismissal against the city police association⁵.
And the city was still angered by the death of a local schizophrenic musician with 16 broken ribs in the back of a police car… after being arrested for urinating in public⁶. Several hundred police had marched in defense of the accused officer⁷, who had a consistent record of violence, after he also bean-bagged a 12-year-old girl.
The message to Portland’s political and civil authority from Keaton Otis‘s killers was immediate and blunt: Portland’s police would not be accountable to the people of Portland. They would continue to be an organized racist gang… acting with impunity… and contempt for civil authority in Portland. And get away with it.
And they have. The officers involved still patrol Portland’s streets. Portland’s police remain beyond the control of the city’s civil authority.
Portland’s political and police leadership remains intimidated and cowed into silence over the killing of Keaton Otis. They continue to block attempts to find justice for Keaton Otis.
The HEAT officers claim they saw Keaton Otis at just before 6:20pm as he drove north along Portland’s busy four-lane Grand Avenue, as they were leaving the Starbucks they daily used⁸. The radio conversation between their four cars was not recorded. We do not know what they said or what happened before they called a full code 3 alert for all cars to converge on a terrified Keaton Otis… only what they say they said and what they claim happened.
“He kind of looks like he could be a gangster,” they later claimed⁹, “he’s got his hood up over his head,” and he had “some scruffy, scruffy facial hair.”
Witnesses say Keaton Otis appealed for help — “don’t leave… they’re gonna kill me”¹¹ — as officers lined up along one side of the car.
Witnesses¹² tell of him being punched in the face through the car window, of the officers not letting him out of the car¹². Video of the killing shows cars and a motorcyclist still driving by just feet away after the murder.
Within minutes Portland’s most notorious police officers — with prior, proven histories of violence against innocent, mostly black, Portlanders — and close associates of the HEAT officers have converged on the scene, taking control of the car, the body and evidence… and arguing to keep out the rival Strategic Emergency Response Team¹³.
Later they claim Keaton Otis had opened fire first and shot an officer in the thigh. An hour after all the mayhem, a gun — stolen in 2006 but never reported — was found sitting on the driver’s seat. No bullet cases from the two shots Keaton Otis allegedly fired were found. ¹⁴.
Keaton Otis‘s body was sprawled out of the passenger door. His watch was found beneath the car. The gun was in the middle of the driver’s seat. None of the independent witnesses report seeing Keaton Otis fire a gun. None of the officers who shot Keaton Otis saw the gun… indeed, they all specifically denied seeing any gun¹⁵.
No evidence has been presented that Keaton Otis ever had any link to the gun¹⁶.
The Grand Jury¹⁷ prosecuted Keaton Otis‘s guilt and defended the officers’ story. Without question. The witness who shot the i-phone video was asked to leave the Grand Jury when the DA showed the police-edited version of her video. That version has since been removed from the DA’s web site. Witnesses whose testimony was favorable to Keaton Otis were either not called, or were discredited as hostile witnesses by the DAs.
The Portland Police Review Board¹⁸ found the officers’ actions “within policy” and stated HEAT radio communications should remain unrecorded.
The parameters of a recent report by the US department of Justice into excessive force by the Portland police avoided any examination of the police killing of Keaton Otis.
Keaton Otis was aged 25 when he was executed by Portland police officers on Wednesday 12 May 2010 at just before 6:30pm on the busy streets of rush-hour Portland… on the same day the mayor sacked the police chief.
Keaton Otis still awaits justice. The people of Portland still await a police force that they can trust.
The 15-minute i-phone video of the killing can be viewed here.
A 21-second enhanced version of the video with time stamp and sub-titles can be viewed here.
For links to publicly-available documents, including the Grand Jury transcript and transcripts of police interviews with witnesses and officers, officer biographies, press reports, statements and maps click here.
For a detailed review of events, police claims, the publicly-available documents + inconsistencies and questions raised click here.
For more information about the Justice for Keaton Otis Campaign see Justice for Keaton Otis on facebook.