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Jury Clears Campus Cops Who Fatally Shot a Navy Vet Who Was Breaking Up a Fight

Jason Washington was killed after trying to pick up his legal firearm from the ground.

A grand jury has decided to clear two Portland State University (PSU) officers who killed a Navy veteran who was trying to break up a fight.

In June, cellphone video captured 45-year-old Jason Washington attempting to break up a fight outside a sports bar. After PSU Officers Shawn McKenzie and James Dewey arrived on the scene, Washington fell to the ground and his handgun came out of the holster on his hip. When he went to pick it up, McKenzie and Dewey yelled at Washington to drop his weapon and opened fire. Washington passed away from his injuries. Police later found that he had a concealed carry permit for his gun.

On Thursday, a grand jury declined to indict McKenzie and Dewey. According to a press release from the Multnomah County District Attorney's office, the grand jury determined that the shooting was a lawful act of self-defense and/or the defense of a third person.

A statement from the office of Rahmat Shoureshi, the president of the university, says the incident will be investigated by two independent sources. McKenzie and Dewey, who were placed on leave after the incident, will return to work for desk duty and other administrative tasks. The officers will also remain armed.

The 2015 decision to arm PSU officers was met with fierce opposition from several students. The president's statement explained that the future of an armed PSU police force will be determined by the suggestions made in the independent investigations.

Photo Credit: Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA/Newscom

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Washington passed away from his injuries.

    Kayyy...

  • Longtobefree||

    DROP (bang bang bang) YOUR WEAPON! Or we will shoot.
    There is no safe way for a freedom loving citizen to exercise constitutional rights in any state on the west coast.
    Run for your lives!

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    More like 'drop your weapon and maybe we'll stop shooting."

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The best thing that could come from this is that they again disarm the campus police.

  • Longtobefree||

    The best thing would be do realize that campus police are unnecessary.
    Law enforcement form the appropriate local jurisdiction should also patrol a campus, just like any other part of the community. College kids are nothing special. College administrators are in particular nothing special, and should have no law enforcement authority

  • Rossami||

    Well said.

  • Bubba Jones||

    I disagree. The campus police in my experience were much better suited to handle collegiate drunkenness without handing out citations and making arrests.

  • Agammamon||

    That and campus cops need to be restricted to the campus. Not the area surrounding the campus, the campus. Other cops don't patrol in other department's territory.

  • AZ Gunowner||

    If you are carrying a concealed weapon do not, repeat DO NOT, get involved in anything that might reveal that fact.

  • Ron||

    apparently one of the men in the scuffle was a friend and trying to stop a fight is okay.

  • Cy||

    It sucks that the practical thing to do now is basically cower. That's not at all what the 2nd was designed for.

  • ||

    Yeah, 'do not get involved in anything that might reveal that fact' is the wrong answer. The gun serves me, not the other way around and if they come for my family or my gun, one way or another, they're going to get my gun.

    I know plenty of people who conceal carry everywhere they go. Are they supposed to surrender their weapon or stop doing everything? The correct answer is that I/we shouldn't have to choose.

  • Ron||

    cops need to learn to allow people time to comply but as i've said before they are trained to shoot and that training and mindset have got to change

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    They are trained to shoot first, shoot last, shoot often... They are teaching officers to empty their weapons on a single threat which is tactically stupid if there are multiple threats in the area.

  • Bubba Jones||

    They are trained as an occupation force.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    A properly trained occupation force would know better than to empty a weapon on the first threat.

  • NoVaNick||

    Back when I was in college in the early 90s, the students voted not to allow arming of campus cops but to allow cigarettes to be sold on campus, my how times have changed...

  • Just Say'n||

    Nowadays, the campus would vote to arm speech code police and un-person anyone who smokes

  • Jerryskids||

    The guy was legally carrying a weapon, the cops were legally carrying weapons - but you know if the "feared for my life" were on the other foot there'd be a capital murder charge being issued. Of course the argument would be that the cops were wearing uniforms that identified them as cops so the guy should have known they were legally armed and not a threat so shooting them would be wrong - but in this case this guy was a citizen and wearing a uniform that identified him as a citizen so the cops should have known that he was legally armed and not a threat, right? Citizens have just as much of a right to carry guns as cops, why should there be a presumption that a citizen with a gun is somehow a lethal threat while a cop with a gun is not?

  • target||

    agree. I know it doesn't set precident, but under this ruling, it would be nice if it means that when you see a cop with an unholstered weapon you can shoot him and claim self defense or defense of a 3rd person.

  • Calidissident||

    How much does the Second Amendment mean if the police are allowed to summarily execute you if they see you with a gun?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It means nothing, which was the goal the anti-second amendment forces in this country. Sure, the second amendment protects your right to bear arms... it doesn't protect you from the state killing you when they see it. No go ahead, carry a gun.

  • Just Say'n||

    In this case this guy was going to be killed by the state one way or another. Either through a deployment or just your standard state execution which happened in this scenario. It's terrible

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    5A would also like to have a word with you...

  • chipper me timbers||

    ^this. WTF

  • Cy||

    The man was extra double legally carrying his weapon. He wasn't wielding it. The cops murdered him, plain and simple.

  • Murgatroyd||

    Damn it people, if you are going to carry a weapon you must buy and use a high-quality holster with good retention and adequate concealment. Your firearm should never ever ever EVER simply fall off of your person (and therefore out of your control) in any situation. Washington had his gun tucked into his pocket.

    That said, this is a complete tragedy and the the police are completely to blame for this situation. This incident ticks off the necessary boxes for a justified use of force on paper, but the officers involved should have had enough situational awareness to realize that he was not a threat to them. The police are trained to be trigger-happy, and this incident clearly demonstrates that.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    +1 about proper pistol retention.

    Police are too quick to shoot.

  • DiegoF||

    Yet more gun violence in America! I would be quite shocked to not see progs making the point that this is precisely why we must not allow civilians to carry weapons; if law abiding citizens could not, no such tragedies would transpire. This is what happens when we do. You think I am joking? They already have made just such a case many times. And anyone who has hung around with progs, especially white progs, casually knows this is how they talk.

    Dumb bougie progs laugh at this thinking it is not about them, certainly not; why we say nice things about Black Lives Matter! It's about those other, nasty Republican type of yuppies.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Dumb bougie progs laugh at this thinking it is not about them, certainly not; why we say nice things about Black Lives Matter! It's about those other, nasty Republican type of yuppies.

    Yep, the Prius is the dead giveaway.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Must be nut-punch Friday.

  • majil||

    Cheer when cops are shot in the face

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Kind of looks like Navy vet was shot in the back.

    Maybe the video cut out and he picked the gun up with his back to police and then turned around.

    When you have a pistol, be careful of melee fights as you can get your weapon knocked lose or someone take it from you.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You should not bring a dropped pistol to a fist fight.

  • DiegoF||

    The average Joe seems to be weirdly naive about street fights especially when the ground is involved.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I carry. I would never put myself in a situation where I cannot be 100% alert if I had to use the pistol and where someone could easily get my weapon.

    If I did drop my weapon, I would belly flop on it so nobody else could get it. Not pick it up like a piece of candy.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Why were 'campus police' at some off campus bar?

    It looked to be some off campus location anyway.

  • DiegoF||

    These are urban state school cops.

    Usually how campus police work, at least where I'm from, is that they are legally city cops, or in the case of a multicampus public school, state troopers. (Check out their shields, which are usually the normal ones for the type of LEO they are.) In a real city, with real crime, they are often essentially the city cops for the university district precinct, with the only difference that their paychecks are drawn from the school budget and they answer, at least in large part, to school administration. Even if the school is private, they are not like private security, detectives, or Pinkertons with partial police powers or anything.

  • Bubba Jones||

    My campus cops were licensed by the state. They also ran patrols under contract in the surrounding neighborhoods.

    These are rich neighborhoods who felt inadequately served by the city cops.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Yeah there's no situation that can't be made worse by the arrival of cops.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    That could be said of government intervention in general.

    The biggest lie ever told: "We're from the government and we are here to help."

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Prosecutor files charges if he wants a conviction. Takes it to the Grand jury if he doesn't.

  • Jerry B.||

    Interesting that a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, but could also get a grand jury to fail to indict trigger-happy cops.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    The grand jury is just a sock puppet for the DA.

    Grand Juries in the United States.


    While all states in the U.S. currently have provisions for grand juries,[3] only half of the states actually employ them[4] and twenty-two require their use, to varying extents.[5] The modern trend is to use an adversarial preliminary hearing before a trial court judge, rather than grand jury, in the screening role of determining whether there is evidence establishing probable cause that a defendant committed a serious felony before that defendant is required to go to trial and risk a conviction on those charges.

    In many states, the only times they trot out a grand jury at all is when some ambitious DA wants to go after another elected official from the other party, or to deflect blame for not bringing criminal charges against cops in high profile cases.

    When you hear grand jury at the state level, it's either a political witch hunt or letting cops off the hook after they got caught red handed.

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