Wife of man killed by Portland police files federal lawsuit

John Andrew Elifritz (Photo released by Portland Police Bureau)

The wife of a man fatally shot by police inside a Portland homeless shelter has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the officers who fired.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday night in federal court seeks damages, but does not specify an amount.

John Elifritz died April 7 from multiple gunshot wounds. Authorities said he had prompted 911 calls with menacing behavior earlier that day and carjacked a vehicle that he crashed outside the shelter.

After he entered the shelter, officers ordered him to drop a knife and then fired from across a room.

A grand jury declined to indict the officers.

The lawsuit says Elifritz was experiencing a mental health crisis. It highlights a 2012 government investigation which found that Portland police engaged in a pattern of excessive force against the mentally ill.

"There is nothing, nothing I can do that is going to bring him back. But if we all stand together maybe another family won't have to go through this, and that's what we want," said Barbara Elifritz.

City attorney Tracy Reeve declined comment on the lawsuit.


4/8: Bystander captures officer-involved shooting on cellphone, believes PPB acted 'entirely appropriately'4/8: Friends and family mourn man killed by Portland Police, want answers4/9: Portland police ID man killed in officer-involved shooting; timeline of events released4/10: Officers in deadly SE Portland shooting identified; subsequent threats deemed not credible5/9: Grand jury: Officers justified in deadly shooting of suspect in SE Portland shelter

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