Protesters in Portland, Ore., are demanding Portland State University police officers be disarmed after campus cops fatally shot Jason Washington, a Navy veteran and grandfather who was killed as he was trying to break up a fight outside a sports bar early Friday morning.
Video taken from that altercation shows Washington (wearing a gray shirt and khaki shorts) actively trying to break up a fight between multiple people. Washington has his gun holstered throughout the incident, until two men, trading blows, fall on top of him, causing the gun to tumble out of its holster. As CBS News reports, when Washington gets on his feet to pick up the weapon, witnesses say PSU officers open fire on him, killing him.
According to local TV station KATU 2 TV, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Washington had a concealed-carry permit.
Mohammed Tuffa, who tells CBS New she was involved in the fight, said police didn’t have to use deadly force on Washington, a 45-year-old U.S. Postal Service employee and Navy veteran.
“Pepper spray could have broken everybody out,” Tuffa said. “Everybody would have been on the ground crying.”
Officers Shawn McKenzie and James Dewey, the PSU cops involved in Washington’s death, have been placed on administrative leave and an investigation is underway, according to a statement released by PSU President Rahmant Shoureshi.
“Campus safety is our top priority at PSU,” said Shoureshi. “As you know, we are an urban campus, and that presents challenges. We work hard to provide an environment at PSU that is safe and welcoming.”
Hundreds of protesters marched this weekend through downtown to Portland State University’s campus on Sunday, paying respects to Washington and demanding that campus police be disarmed. As KATU 2 reports, PSU campus security began carrying firearms in July 2015—a move that immediately drew backlash from students.
One member of the Portland State Student Union, Olivia Pace, told KATU 2, “This is the exact reason why we didn’t want campus security armed. When we found out that it had resulted in fatal consequences we were so disgusted and sad.”
Washington’s family was also in attendance at the rally this weekend. KATU 2 writes that the family stood silently at the back of the protest, holding pictures of their dead loved one.
“There is no compensation that will equal this incalculable loss for his wife, his daughters, granddaughters, family and his friends,” said Melinda Leiva, a close family friend, told the TV station.
PSU says this is the first campus-officer involved shooting since the 2015 policy change.