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What Happened To Fouad Kaady: November 2005

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Kaady investigation given time extension

from the Oregonian

A Clackamas County sheriff's review board will get an additional 60 days to conduct an internal investigation into the shooting death of 27-year-old Fouad Kaady by a deputy and a Sandy Police officer during a September confrontation on a rural highway.

Sheriff Craig Roberts granted the extension Tuesday, he said in a news release, "in order to allow the board the time necessary to thoroughly review this complex incident and to complete a clear and comprehensive report and recommendations."

During a week of deliberations that ended Oct. 24, a Clackamas County grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing on the part of Deputy David Willard and Sandy Police Officer William Bergin.

Kaady, a Gresham man suspected in at least three hit-and-run crashes in the hours before he died Sept. 8, was bloody, naked and combative, sheriff's officials said.

He was unfazed by 50,000 volts from a Taser stun gun and refused to respond to commands. Both officers testified that Kaady jumped from the ground to the top of a police car in an instant as he screamed at the officers, "I'm gonna kill you!" They fired eight times, hitting Kaady with seven rounds. Kaady was unarmed.

Kaady's family said his bizarre behavior was not the result of drugs or mental illness but of burns from a gasoline can that exploded into flames inside his car and of a head injury suffered during one of the three crashes.

A sheriff's spokeswoman, Detective Wendi Babst, said the head of the review board, Sheriff's Capt. Don Howard, asked for the extension because of the large volume of reports and the complexity of the case.

The board will continue to meet weekly for the next two months, Babst said, before presenting its report to Roberts in late January.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Our debt to the deputies and Kaady's kin

from the Oregonian

The story will sound familiar.

An unarmed man high on drugs is seen walking naked down the street. The man, who appears to be psychotic, ignores police instructions and despite non-lethal attempts to subdue him, he keeps coming.

Then he lunges at a deputy.

But this is not the story of Fouad Kaady, the 27-year-old Gresham man who was fatally shot by a Clackamas County deputy and a Sandy policeman two months ago.

In this 2002 case, a man high on crack cocaine ran naked into traffic in a Seattle suburb and began pounding on cars.

A King County sheriff's deputy sprayed the man with pepper spray. But it didn't stop him. After a short wrestling match, the man gained control of the deputy's gun and shot him four times in the head, killing him.

In the Kaady shooting outside Sandy on Sept 8, police also attempted to use nonlethal means, shooting Kaady with a stun gun after he refused to obey their orders.

Then, according to police reports, Kaady ran toward police, leaped on top of a squad car and screamed that he wanted to kill them. Among other things, the two policemen were worried that Kaady would grab a loaded shotgun one of them had left sitting on the hood of the squad car.

As Kaady appeared to be lunging toward the deputy, both cops opened fire, hitting Kaady seven times.

The two cases spotlight the difficulty of police work. And the difficulty of sorting out who's responsible when things go badly.

In the King County case, a jury convicted the man of murder. Last month, a Clackamas County grand jury voted not to indict the two police officers.

Last week, in response to an editorial in The Oregonian calling for a public inquest into Kaady's death, Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote wrote a letter to the editor saying an inquest is a "flawed legal process" that can "turn into a forum to air grievances."

The bigger flaw is that in too many cases there's virtually no meaningful public review after cops shoot people.

According to newspaper investigations and experts, police agencies across the country offer a wide range of guidelines about the use of lethal force, and many don't aggressively investigate officer-involved shootings.

Two years ago, a police consultant's study of 32 police shootings in Portland over three years turned up no documented command review of one-third of the cases.

Experts say there is very little national information compiled on police shootings and how they're handled, so police leaders feel very little outside pressure to police their own.

But officer-involved shootings are dramatically reduced, experts say, when police chiefs clarify deadly force policies and make it clear that every shooting will be closely scrutinized.

Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts has said he will not comment on the Kaady shooting until after a shooting review board has completed its review of the incident.

Critics, including many people who call for public inquests, insist police reviews rarely shed light on shootings or lead to significant changes in policy.

At this point, it's impossible to know what standard of critical review Roberts will insist on or where he'll decide to lead us in this area.

He will, no doubt, call for more training money for officers. And that's fine. But training is only the very tip of this iceberg. The Clackamas County deputy involved in the shooting was well-trained, both in crisis intervention and in dealing with suspects suffering from mental illness or addiction.

Regardless of what the shooting review board decides about Kaady's death, Roberts should take this opportunity to lay out an aggressive set of guidelines for use of deadly force, and make it clear he intends to enforce them --no exceptions.

And other police departments in the county should follow his lead.

We owe that to the Kaady family. And to the two deputies who felt they had no choice but to pull the trigger.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Burned! - Once Again, A Grand Jury Excuses Police Shooting

from the Portland Mercury

This much is known: Fouad Kaady, a 27-year-old Gresham man, was involved in at least one auto accident in Sandy on September 8. That collision possibly ignited a gas can in his car, which left him badly burned and with a head injury. Shortly thereafter, the young man was found walking naked down the street.

But when police arrived on the scene, instead of treating Kaady for medical concerns, they began treating him like a criminal, ordering him to lie down on the pavement. (One witness said that Kaady's skin was hanging off in places, and that he sat instead of lying on the ground.)

When officers were unable to force Kaady to lie on the ground, they shot him with a taser gun, which apparently only caused him to act more wildly. Moments later, he climbed to the top of a squad car. In response, at least one of the officers fired at him. Kaady died at the scene.

Immediate news reports said the officers thought Kaady might be armed, although they didn't offer any details as to where a naked man would conceal a weapon.

In response, a grand jury convened in Clackamas County for five days last week, examining evidence and listening to witness testimony. Each day, protestors gathered outside the Oregon City courthouse and witnesses steadfastly told media outlets that they believed the shooting to be unjustified. But on Monday, the grand jury ruled that there wasn't enough evidence to pursue a criminal charge, meaning the officers won't stand trial for Kaady's death.

At press time, it was unclear if Kaady's family will file a wrongful death civil lawsuit. It was also unclear if either the Sandy police or Clackamas County sheriff's office plans to conduct an internal investigation.

The shooting again calls into question the grand jury hearing and process. Under current state law, the court's records will remain sealed. During the recent legislative session, State Senator Avel Gordley (D-Portland), spurred on by the 2003 Kendra James shootings, tried to pass a law that would have allowed public access to grand jury records. That bill failed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Kaady death should spur a public inquest

from the Oregonian

Finally, a plausible explanation has emerged for the bizarre --and terrifying --behavior Fouad Kaady displayed Sept. 8, before he was shot and killed by a Sandy police officer and a Clackamas County sheriff's deputy. On Sunday, The Oregonian's Eric Mortenson and Stuart Tomlinson reported on their hypothesis, backed up by their own research, that Kaady may have been suffering from something called "excited delirium."

Although no one knows for sure, and it's not clear what might have triggered the condition, the explanation seems to fit what the 27-year-old Gresham High School graduate did that day. In tearing off his clothes, growling like an animal and pressing forward, unfazed, after absorbing high-voltage shocks from stun guns, Kaady mirrored textbook symptoms of this mental breakdown.

It's not a well-known phenomenon, but some law enforcement agencies (notably in Canada) are starting to wise up about it, train for it and treat it as a medical emergency, not a criminal problem. Police are seeing it more because it can be triggered by methamphetamine use, although there's no indication that this drug played a part in Kaady's case. In the hours before he died, though, Kaady's strange behavior gave rise to at least a dozen 9-1-1 calls.

Some people who saw him that day were worried; others terrified. No one who reported on his behavior could have envied the Sandy police officer and Clackamas County sheriff's deputy who actually had to confront Kaady. A Clackamas County grand jury exonerated the officers last week of any criminal misconduct, but that won't eliminate questions about this shooting. Neither will the reviews planned by the two law enforcement agencies involved.

No, those efforts won't be enough. Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote should hold a public inquest, similar to the one Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk held into a Portland police shooting. Pinning down what was wrong with Kaady is important, but the larger question is whether officers could have handled this case differently. A public inquest offers the best hope of illuminating what happened.

In the Kaady case, it's not only Kaady's family and friends who deserve a public inquest. The two officers involved deserve to tell their side of the story to the public, too.