Featured Stories

Gunshot wound victim sues Washington County deputies

A 2010 Aloha melee started with a neighbor's complaint

A California man shot by a Washington County Sheriff's Office deputy in Aloha last September filed a lawsuit seeking economic and punitive damages from the deputies involved and the agency for injuries he received in the incident.

Leonard Salanitro, 49, of Orange, Calif., filed a civil complaint Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland that seeks unspecified compensation for alleged damages and violations of his civil rights in the Sept. 21, 2010, incident.

The complaint names Washington County Sheriff's Deputies Patrick Altiere and James Wheaton and the public entity of Washington County, the deputies' employer, as defendants.

The incident began around 9 p.m. at the home of Dale and Sue Ann Fortune in the 17000 block of Southwest Stark Street in Aloha. The Fortunes are family friends of Salanitro, and he was visiting them at the time.

Deputies were investigating a neighbor's complaint that Dale Fortune, who was 62 at the time, had earlier kicked the neighbor's truck, a misdemeanor property crime. The deputies were not welcomed into the Fortunes' home and carried no warrant granting them entry, according to the complaint.

Salanitro was awakened by the altercation and left the bedroom to see what was happening in the adjacent room. Deputies said Fortune resisted arrest, and Salanitro joined in the melee.

A deputy fired a shot, striking Salanitro in the abdomen. Salanitro apparently had no weapon and was not arrested.

According to the complaint, Salanitro was at least 7 feet away from the deputies and in another room of the house when Altiere shot him.

'An unarmed man in his underwear was shot by deputies that night,' said Michael Wise, the attorney representing Salanitro and the Fortunes. 'It's hard to imagine why deadly force would be needed by two officers who carried Tasers and were investigating a non-person, property crime.

'We also have serious questions about the deputies' treatment and arrests of Dale and Sue Ann Fortune, two citizens with no previous criminal history,' he added.

Salanitro underwent emergency surgery for the gunshot wound. A manual laborer, he is still recovering and hasn't been able to fully return to work since the shooting, Wise said.

Both Dale and Sue Fortune were jailed for nine days on misdemeanor charges that included resisting arrest and interfering with a public safety officer.

Along with Salanitro, the Fortunes filed a tort claim with the county, a legal precursor to filing a lawsuit, in March. It is unclear if the Fortunes plan to move forward with a suit.

Washington County officials do not comment on pending litigation.