Jason Washington is the married U.S. Navy veteran who was shot dead by Portland State University cops while trying to break-up a fight outside of a bar, witnesses said. He was 45 years old. The incident happened at around 1:30 a.m. on June 29, close to the Cheerful Tortoise bar. Police had been responding to a disturbance call in the area. Witness Keyaira Smith told KPTV, “It started a little earlier in the night and it led up to yelling across streets. And then, from there, it just kind of took a turn from the worst.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Incident Began With a Man Shouting Racial Slurs, a Witness Said
Keyaira Smith told Oregon Public Broadcasting that the incident began with a man wearing blue using racial slurs. A video posted by Fox Portland’s Tyler Dumont shows the officers opening fire on the man (above).
KPTV reports that Washington was armed with a gun in a holster on his hip and that police could be heard saying, “Drop the gun,” prior to opening fire. Keyaira Smith told the station, “He had fallen and hit the ground, and you hear the pistol hit the ground, and from there I didn’t see if it had fallen out of his pocket – they said it fell out of his pocket, and that he picked it back up.” The KPTV report says that Washington had apparently been attempting to hold back his friend.
Smith told Oregon Public Broadcasting, “The gun slipped out of the holster when he had fallen, and I think he may have tried to retrieve it. Then they said ‘gun.’ There was absolutely no hesitation at all. [The officer] went straight for his gun.” Smith said Washington had his back to the officers when he was shot.
Washington was legally allowed to carry a gun and had a license for it, authorities said. Sergeant Brent Laizure of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office told Oregon Public Broadcasting that Washington had a valid concealed carry permit.
2. Washington Had Worked for the Post Office Since November 1997
According to his Facebook page, Washington was a U.S. Navy veteran. Since November 1997, Washington had worked for the U.S. Post Office. He says on his LinkedIn page that he work as a city carrier Washington graduated from Franklin High School in Portland, Oregon. He also attended Portland Community College.
On his Facbeook page, Washington says he is married to Michelle Blackhurst Washington. Washington went by the nickname J-Dub.
3. A Friend Told Heavy.com That Washington Was a ‘Great Guy’
Speaking to Heavy.com, one of Washington’s friends, Mike Joseph, said the victim “was a great guy and everyone he worked with at USPS liked him. We are all devastated. After seeing the video I’m personally outraged that he was shot for trying to break up a fight.”
4. One of the Cops Involved in the Shooting Was Involved in the Bizarre Arrest of a PSU Student in 2013
KOIN was the first to report that the cops in question were Shawn McKenzie and James Dewey. No officers were injured during the shooting. McKenzie and Dewey are listed as “Campus Police Officers” on the Portland Police Department website. KPIC reported in April 2018 that James Dewey graduated from the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training Basic Police Class. Both Dewey and McKenzie have been sworn PSU officers since 2016. McKenzie has been a public safety officer since 2002, Dewey since 2014, reports KOIN.
In November 2013, McKenzie had been the arresting officer in a trespass case involving a Japanese PSU student who was accused of trespassing for parking in a school garage without a proper permit. The charges against Koji Ono were dropped on the day of his trial.
In a statement, the Portland Police Department said that both of the officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave. The press release reads, “The investigation is in its early stages and additional information will be released as the investigation continues and more information is learned.” Washington was found dead at the scene.
Witness Andy Hansen, who was working nearby, told the Oregonian that the gunfire “sounded like a burst of firecrackers.” Hansen shortly after the shooting he saw around 10 police cruisers at the scene.
5. The Cops at Portland State University Have Been Armed Since 2014
The Portland State University police have been armed since a 2014 vote by the board of trustees, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. When the announcement was made that police on campus were to be armed, a student was quoted in a survey as saying, “I am so worried about having armed police at school. I am a tall African American Male. I have had to swallow my pride too many times to get away from ‘Jumpy Officers’ alive. I hate to think of paying so much money to be at PSU and have the potential to have negative experiences with someone I help to pay.”