Portlanders protest police in wake of officer-involved shooting - KPTV - FOX 12

Portlanders protest police in wake of officer-involved shooting

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Several dozen people gathered in front of Portland City Hall Wednesday afternoon to support the homeless and rally against police brutality.

It comes in the wake of a police shooting – officers shot and killed 48-year-old John Elifritz Saturday night in a homeless shelter in southeast Portland.

“I’m horrified by the shooting and police brutality,” said protester April Burris. 

Attendees said they are particularly troubled by a video showing the final moments of Elifritz’s life. 

A witness captured the encounter on his cell phone, as police moved into the shelter and shot Elifritz.

FOX 12 spoke to the man who took the video. Morgan Pickering said it was the scariest ordeal of his life, and he thinks officers made the right decision to kill him.

Pickering said a man, later identified as Elifritz, came into the shelter without a shirt and used a knife to slash his own neck, and also lunged at officers. 

And although Portland police said they first tried firing less-lethal rounds at Elifritz, some groups – like the Oregon chapter of the ACLU – and protesters, question whether officers could have done more before switching to deadly force.

“I would like to see more de-escalation techniques enforced,” Nick Petersen said, who felt it was important to attend the rally and speak. 

He’s a shelter manager who works with the homeless, including some of those who witnessed the shooting.

“We haven’t stopped talking about it, and we haven’t stopped analyzing it,” Petersen said. “People there had seen it, heard it, they’d seen events, and there were incidents of PTSD, maybe brought on by their own past incidents with the police.”

Petersen said in his line of work, de-escalation is crucial, and a cornerstone of his training.

“I want to see them qualified for mental health and de-escalation techniques, as much as they have to go through their regular weapons training,” Petersen said of police officers. 

The officers involved in the shooting remain on paid administration leave, which is standard procedure. 

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