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Testimony reveals differing accounts of Fairview police shooting

Grand jury transcripts made public

The transcript from the Multnomah County grand jury's hearing on the fatal shooting of Larry Maurice McKinney in late January provides more detail of the events leading to the confrontation between McKinney and two Fairview police officers and the investigation afterward.

But conflicting testimony between police, McKinney's family and another witness still leaves an unclear picture of what happened before Officer Mike Morton shot McKinney, who was standing in front of his mother and uncle's apartment at the Wood Creek Apartments in Fairview.

McKinney, 37, was pronounced dead at the scene. It was the first police officer-involved shooting in the Fairview Police Department's history.

The grand jury, which met Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 8-9, found that officers Joe Kaiser and Mike Morton acted appropriately and cleared them of wrongdoing.

The 268-page transcript, which was released to the public at the request of the Fairview Police Department, includes testimony from Kaiser and Morton; McKinney's mother, Sandra Kelley, and uncle, Gerald Kelley, who were at the apartment when the shooting occurred; police officers who investigated the shooting afterward; and witnesses including Mary Mosqueda, who said she did not see police on the stairs before McKinney's shooting.

Fairview Police Chief Ken Johnson said the Use of Force Review Board met this week to determine if Morton's actions were within the department's policy and procedures or if he violated them. Johnson said he also is conducting an administrative review of the incident.

Johnson said he plans to release the results of both investigations on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Officers say McKinney threatened them

Morton and Kaiser - who stated they've never used deadly force before - said they arrived at the apartment complex around 11:52 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, after responding to the 9-1-1 call from McKinney's mother, Sandra Kelley.

After they arrived, they met Sandra Kelley at the bottom of the staircase to her apartment and told her to wait as they started going up the stairs.

Kaiser testified that Sandra Kelley told him and Morton that there were no weapons in the apartment, so there was no reason for them to have their weapons out as they climbed the stairs. He said the door was open and he could hear yelling from inside.

Kaiser said he was 'literally going to step on (the top landing)' when McKinney quickly came out of the apartment and said he was going to kill him. McKinney was holding the kitchen knife - 11.4 inches in length with a 7-inch blade - pointed straight down 'slightly to the right or above' his head, Kaiser said.

'And I just thought to myself, 'Oh, my God, I'm going to get stabbed in the neck or head,' ' Kaiser is quoted as saying in his testimony.

Kaiser, who said he was an arm's-length away from McKinney, yelled 'Knife! Knife!' and tried to turn away, noting he was concerned about slipping on the stairs and falling.

Morton - who is Fairview police's defensive tactics instructor - testified he was about halfway up the stairs behind Kaiser when Kaiser said 'Knife.' Morton saw the light glint off the knife blade. He said he then shot McKinney after McKinney moved toward him.

Dr. Clifford Nelson, a deputy state medical examiner who conducted McKinney's autopsy, testified that McKinney was shot three times - twice in the chest and once by a bullet that grazed the back of his head.

Nelson said he was unable to determine the order of the wounds.

Lauren Zoebelle, a paramedic for American Medical Response, testified that McKinney was found crumpled in the doorway and had not been moved.

Detective David Schmidt, a master instructor on the use of force with the Gresham Police Department, told the grand jury how the police are trained to assess and deal with threats. He said he reviewed the reports and found Morton was right to use deadly force because McKinney was within an arm's length of Kaiser and could have caused 'serious physical injury' with the knife.

Schmidt said police are responsible for every bullet they fire. In cases when they have to use deadly force, Schmidt said police are taught to shoot at the largest portion of a person to 'stop the threat' and not at moving targets like a hand or an arm.

Melissa Arne, a criminalist with the Gresham Police Department, testified she found the three shell casings: two near the staircase and one on the third step.

Noting that the shells eject to the right, Arne said it's difficult to tell how the casings ended up in those locations as they could have bounced off the walls or been kicked around in the confusion.

Mother says McKinney stood silent

Police and witnesses confirmed that McKinney had been drinking at two bars before he tried to visit the mother of his three children in East Portland.

McKinney then took a taxi to his mother's apartment and arrived there at 11:41 p.m., police said.

The grand jury heard Sandra Kelley's 9-1-1 call from 11:48 p.m., in which she told the dispatcher that McKinney had grabbed her hair and also damaged her bedroom door after she locked it.

During her testimony, Sandra said she and McKinney argued because she wanted him to leave the apartment. She said he was slurring his words and that she was worried his behavior could get her evicted. After he pushed her onto her bed, she decided to call 9-1-1.

Sandra stood by her account that Morton and Kaiser took their guns out when they arrived and only asked her if there were weapons in the apartment.

She added that McKinney walked out of the apartment carrying the knife but froze at the top of the staircase and did not say anything to police. She said both she and the officers, who were at the bottom of the stairs, and told him to drop the knife before he was shot a few seconds later.

'I don't think he knew the police were there,' Sandra said. 'He never said a word to me. He never said a word to the officers. He never moved an inch.'

Sandra disputed statements that she gave to the police after the shooting, in which she heard McKinney say 'No!' when they told him to drop the knife.

'I know my son better than anybody in the world,' she testified. 'He never said a word to me, not a word to the officers. They gave him absolutely no reaction time.'

Sandra also denied telling police that she tried to go back into her apartment after the shooting, as the officers had detained her at the bottom of the stairs.

Gerald Kelley, who was watching television inside the apartment when the shooting occurred, told the grand jury that he saw McKinney take the knife from the kitchen and said, 'Don't be stupid and take that out.'

Gerald said he did not remember several statements he made to police after the shooting, such as telling them that he heard shouting outside or that McKinney was holding the knife 'like he was going to stab somebody.'

Noting that her son was an alcoholic and had problems with methamphetamine, Sandra said, 'I know that the officer who killed my son has got to be suffering. Nobody can live with that kind of guilt. And I have compassion for him, but I don't believe he has compassion for me and what I'm going through and what I'm feeling and how strong I've had to be for my whole family.'

Witness did not see police on stairs

Mary Mosqueda, the apartment complex's assistant manager, told the grand jury she was outside smoking a cigarette and walking her dog when she saw McKinney standing on the top of the staircase to his mother and uncle's apartment, yelling and pacing around. He also had his arm raised, she said.

Mosqueda said she could only see the top half of the staircase, as there were hedges blocking her view of the lower half. She did not see any police officers on the staircase when she heard the gunshots and saw McKinney fall.

Mosqueda said the apartment's porch light and a corner building light were on at the time.

During her testimony, Mosqueda was asked if she saw any other people on the staircase.

Her answer: 'No.'

When two detectives re-enacted the scene with her, Mosqueda said she could see the top of the detective's head when he stood on the third step from the bottom.

Mosqueda said McKinney and the mother of his children had received a trespass notice on Dec. 17, excluding them from the apartment complex for a year because of domestic violence issues.



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