Judge limits grand jury testimony in police shooting incident
Police officer's attorney wanted expert testimony, other evidence presented
The attorney for the Portland police officer who accidentally shot a mentally ill man with lethal shotgun rounds previewed his possible defense strategy if charged with a crime in the incident Tuesday morning.
Officer Dane Reister had accidentally loaded lethal rounds into a shotgun intended to fire less lethal beanbag rounds. Appearing at a court hearing, Attorney Janet Hoffman said expert testimony will prove the mix-up was the inevitable result of 'woefully inadequate' Portland Police Bureau training techniques.
A Multnomah County grand jury is currently considering whether to change Reister with any crime in the June 30 incident, which left William Monroe with severe injuries. Reister shot Monroe after he and other officers confronted him following reports that he was acting strangely and had a knife.
The hearing was held before Presiding Multnomah County Judge Jean Kerr Maurer. Hoffman tried to convince Maurer to present the expert testimony and evidence she said supported it to the grand jury. Some of the evidence includes Portland police bureau training policies. Hoffman tried to subpoena Mayor Sam Adams, Portland Police Chief Mike Reese and other bureau employees to testify about them.
Maurer quashed the subpoenas and declined to allow the expert witness - Leeza Maron, an assistant professor of psychiatry at OHSU - to testify before the grand jury. Maurer also declined a request by Hoffman for Maron to testify at the hearing before she issued her ruling.
After making her rulings, Maurer said Hoffman's requests dealt with evidence that should be considered if the grand jury indicts Reister and before a trial takes place. Maurer said it was not her job to 'pre-screen' evidence for the grand jury that would otherwise be submitted to a trial court.
In court filings, the Multnomah County District Attorneys Office indicated it believes Reister is responsible for Monroe's injuries because he negligently loaded the wrong rounds into the shotgun. The Portland police bureau's less lethal shotguns are yellow and so are the beanbag rounds. Reister apparently loaded the wrong rounds out of a bag that included a mix of them.
Hoffman suggested the bureau was negligent in its less lethal training techniques, however. She said expert testimony would show officers load the weapons with a 'muscle memory' process that means they do not necessarily see the color of the rounds.
'The science is, you can look and you do not see,' Hoffman said.
On Monday, Maurer ruled the grand jury can learn that Reister accidentally shot a another officer with a smoke round from a riot-suppression launcher during a 2006 training incident. Hoffman argued the two situations were so different that information about the first one should not be provided to the grand jury. Maurer ruled the earlier mistake was relevant, however.
The grand jury will continue taking testimony and receiving evidence about the incident into November.