The Justice Department Tuesday announced that there was insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against Portland Police Bureau officers involved in the fatal shooting of Aaron Campbell.
Officials from the department’s Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon and the FBI met with Campbell’s family and their representatives to inform them of this decision.
The family released a statement saying that it accepts the decision, but looks forward to another decision being made in the near future as to whether the federal government will investigate the Portland Police Bureau for patterns and practices of federal civil rights violations related to the deaths of innocent citizens.
Campbell was killed on Jan. 29, 2010, during a standoff with police at the Sandy Terrace Apartments in northeast Portland. Police had been told Campbell was armed and suicidal. But he had no gun when officer Ryan Lewton began firing beanbag rounds at him. When Campbell turned and started to run back in the apartment, Officer Ronald Frashour shot him in the back with an AR15 rifle.
Under the applicable federal criminal civil rights laws, prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a law enforcement officer willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right, meaning with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids. Neither accident, mistake, fear, negligence nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish such a criminal violation, justice department officials said.
After a careful review of the facts, a team of federal prosecutors determined that the evidence was insufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the law enforcement personnel who fired at Campbell acted willfully, meaning with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids.
The Justice Department said it was committed to investigations of allegations of excessive force by law enforcement officers and will continue to devote the resources required to ensure that all allegations of serious civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated.