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City costs in Campbell case could near $2 million

Council to consider increasing arbitration contract by up to $300.000

City costs in the controversial Aaron Campbell police shooting case are on track to reach almost $2 million.

The Portland City Council will consider raising its contract for legal services related to arbitration in the case to a maximum of $750,000 on Wednesday.

That is on top of the $1.2 million the city agreed to pay Campbell's family to settle a federal wrongful death lawsuit in February.

And neither includes the back pay the city must pay any of the four bureau employees disciplined in the case if it ultimately loses their appeals.

The potential $300,000 increase comes a little more than a week after Mayor Sam Adams said the city will fight a state arbitrator's ruling that it must reinstate Ron Frashour. Adams and Police Chief Mike Reese fired Frashour for not following bureau protocols before shooting Campbell. The arbitrator ruled Frashour is entitled to back pay.

The Portland Police Association appealed the firing. The union that represents rank-and-file bureau employees also appealed disciplinary rulings against another officer and two sergeants involved in the incident. They were suspended without pay.

The city retained the firm of Littler Mendelson to assist in the arbitration. At the time, the city was defending itself against a federal wrongful death lawsuit filed by Campbell's family. The city settled the wrongful death lawsuit two months before the arbitrator ruled the city should not have fired Frashour.

Rulings in the other cases are pending.

The city has not yet decided how to appeal the arbitrator's ruling. One option is to refuse to comply with it. The PPA could then file an unfair labor practice complaint against the city with the state Employment Relations Board, an agency that handles labor-related matters. Its decision can be appealed to the courts.

Frashour shot Campbell in the back with a sniper rifle after a lengthy police standoff at a Northeast Portland apartment complex in January 2010. Although police has been told Campbell was armed, he did not have a gun with him when he was shot.

At the time of his death, Campbell, an African-American, was upset by the recent death of his brother. The killing sparked community protests, including a visit from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who denounced it.

Mayor Sam Adams and then-Police Commissioner subsequently asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate it and a number of other incidents where the police killed minority members. The review is ongoing.