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Lukus Glenn deserved better than what happened to him

(Soapboxes are guest opinions from our readers, and anyone is welcome to write one. Reid Iford is a Tigard resident.)

One of our neighborhood children died last week, shot to death at his own home by Washington County Sheriff's deputies.

This should not have happened, and in fact need not have happened. I've already seen what I believe is the system gearing up to smear the boy, and I want to make it clear now that there will be no whitewash of this incident.

Not on my watch.

Lukus Glenn was a close friend of my teenage son, Paul. When Paul learned what happened, my boy broke down crying and said, 'Lukus was the kindest kid I ever knew. He was so gentle. He never hurt anybody. Why did they have to kill him?'

The simple truth is, they didn't. As a former reporter who has covered police beats and dealt with officers for years, and even was appointed by a former Washington County sheriff to serve on a county police committee, I am very familiar with police procedures and also with the tough challenges facing officers.

Every police officer is prepared to lay his or her life on the line to protect us, and I cannot begin to convey the gratitude I feel for a stranger prepared to die to protect my wife and children. I also should qualify my statements by explaining that I know personally several Washington County deputies for whom I have the utmost respect and admiration.

But none of that excuses what was done to Lukus Glenn. He did not need to die.

At best there appears to have been what I believe was gross misconduct and incompetence, and at worst what I believe was negligent and reckless actions.

The police are indicted by their own words and actions. Asked by Lukus' mother Hope in a 9-1-1 call to come 'save my son,' who was suicidal and holding a knife to his throat, the police instead burst onto the scene with guns drawn, screaming at the confused, frightened, drunk child.

When he tried to talk to them, they responded with beanbag rounds, and as the injured boy grabbed his pants legs with both hands (hardly a threatening gesture) and stumbled back gasping for air and turning toward the safety of his home, he was gunned down by police.

The first time I saw the public information officer for the Washington County Sheriff's office speaking on the air, he said the officers felt threatened.

However, when credible eyewitnesses came forward to report what actually happened and the pubic learned Lukus was a good boy and a popular local athlete who was shot multiple times in the back, the police changed their story. Now, they claimed they killed Lukus 'to protect his family.'

But this claim too is put to the test by their own actions that night. Aside from the obvious fact that no one claimed to be threatened, and the stunned boy - gasping for air - was in no physical condition to harm anyone, the police actually fired wildly, directly into the house containing the people they claimed they wanted to protect.

One police bullet reportedly penetrated the room where Lukus' grandmother was. The only danger any member of this family ever faced that night was from the police they had asked to help their child.

The police charged into the yard that night, guns drawn, screaming and resorting almost instantly to the escalating use of their weapons. This was indefensible in light of the words of the 9-1-1 call and the assurances of the 9-1-1 dispatcher that the police were trained professionals coming to help the boy.

Even at the moment the boy was gunned down, his mother was begging that her son not be shot.

Usually when someone is killed by police, there are a lot of extenuating and confusing factors, many of which were not present that night.

Lukus Glenn was a nice local suburban boy, a high school graduate, a sports star, and well liked and loved by all who knew him. There is a complete record of the 9-1-1 call and the information given police, there is a concise and verifiable timeline for the events, and there are credible eyewitnesses to everything that happened.

There is no way there will be a cover up of this police killing. Lukus was one of our children, and our community is not going to stand by and let that happen. There will be justice and an accounting. We demand it - and Lukus and his grieving family deserve it.