Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk in Portland has reversed course and will present to a grand jury the case of a March 28 police shooting of an unarmed motorist. A public inquest will be held if there is no indictment.
The Oregonian says Schrunk acted after Officer Jason Sery, who fired the fatal shots, sued to block an inquest from taking place before a grand jury hearing. Sery’s attorney argued that a public inquest would prejudice grand jurors.
A grand jury will begin hearing testimony April 20 into the police shooting death of James Jahar Perez, 28. Sery, 29, fired three shots at Perez because he thought Perez was reaching for a weapon after a traffic stop, police said.
State Sen. Avel Gordly, D-Portland, one of the first to request an inquest into the shooting, said, “I think it’s a mistake in judgment, and I’m frankly disappointed in the exercise of leadership on the part of the district attorney. What we just lost is the opportunity for what many of us have been calling for, and that’s transparency and openness at getting the facts out at the very beginning of the process.
Dan Handelman of Copwatch, a police watchdog group, said, “I don’t think it makes much difference in the outcome. Based on Portland history, I don’t expect an indictment, and apparently, neither do the district attorney’s office because they’ve agreed to this.”