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What Happened To Fouad Kaady: The Fouad Kaady files

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Fouad Kaady files

Story surrounding Fouad Kaady shooting materializes with phonebook-size stack of files from the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.

By Marcus Hathcock

The Sandy Post, Aug 19, 2006, Updated Aug 25, 2006
Originally published November 2005.

Many new revelations surrounding the police shooting of Fouad Kaady surfaced in a phonebook-size stack of case files released by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office had kept quiet about details surrounding the incident until Oct. 24, when it released the stack of information compiled by the multi-jurisdictional Major Crimes Team. Much of that information was presented to the Clackamas County Grand Jury, which ultimately vindicated the officers of any criminal charges.

Part I: Peculiar behavior

While there is debate among witnesses and even Kaady’s friends over whether Kaady was on drugs or mentally disturbed or neither, many who testified agreed that the man was not acting like himself in the hours, days and even weeks before the events that led to his death.

Shortly after the Sept. 8 shooting, one of Kaady’s closest friends for two years, Sarah Maness of Portland, told police that Kaady had suffered from depression several weeks before the incident. “He’s been pissed at everything,” she noted.

Maness said she and friend Tarek Ibrahim had discussed how they were worried about Kaady. “He just wasn’t making sense, mentally,” she said. After she and Kaady had a minor falling out, Kaady told Maness not to call him for a month. She text-messaged his cell phone, to which he replied, “I told you not to call me for a month, so if you want to text back, I'll show you who evil fled is.”

Maness said she didn’t understand what “evil fled” meant, but she and Ibrahim felt trouble was coming. “We knew in our hearts that something was going to happen. We felt it.”

Kaady’s father, Rashid, said his son recently had broken up with a girlfriend, a woman known only as named Alexa from Colorado.

Cousin Thomas Oreste said Kaady had a lot of stress piling up on him, noting that if possible financial problems, possible girlfriend problems and maybe some other less-obvious problem piled up, it was possible Kaady was depressed.

A coworker, Mohammed Jamal, said Kaady had not acted strange in recent memory, just tired. Kaady’s sisters said he was happy overall with his life and the direction it was taking. Vania Kaady said her brother had just received his real estate license and was excited about selling real estate with his mother. The family also was eagerly anticipating a trip to Las Vegas for a cousin’s wedding. Kaady was scheduled to pick up his mother at the airport the evening of Sept. 8.

Despite the concern of friends weeks earlier, no bizarre behavior was reported until about 6:30 a.m. Sept. 8, when Kaady was spotted driving recklessly in the Mt. Hood Community College parking lot. Witnesses claimed he was doing 360-degree turns and burnouts in his pickup before campus security took notice of him.

Responding security officer Jefferson Potts said Kaady’s car had a strong smell of marijuana. When Potts approached Kaady to stop the vehicle from driving erratically in the parking lot, the pickup accelerated and drove over a 3-foot embankment. Potts said Kaady then drove along the top of the berm, proceeding eastbound on Stark before bottoming out on the edge of the pavement.

He was next spotted at his father’s Gresham home, wearing a suit. Rashid said his son’s behavior didn’t strike him as odd.

At about 9:47 a.m., Kaady bought two packs of cigarettes from the Hilton Haven drive-through tobacco store on 212th and Stark Street, a place he frequented.

According to clerk Rudd McGarity, Kaady wasn’t acting like himself. He overpaid for his cigarettes with a jar filled with change and was not interested in getting the additional cash back.

After paying, McGarity said, “He just looked at me a little frazzled.” He asked Kaady if he was OK, to which he replied, “No, I’m not OK.” McGarity said Kaady didn’t act like he was on drugs, but instead acted like “something major just happened to him, like he had the worst news of his life and had to go deal with it.” Kaady drove off without saying another word.

Nearly three hours later, Kaady was spotted at the parking lot for Rick’s Custom Fencing at the corner of 202nd and Stark.

James Blankenship of Rick’s Custom Fencing said he and some coworkers watched Kaady “fool around” in his pickup for about 10 minutes before taking off running, wearing only boxer shorts. “It was weird,” Blankenship recalled.

Dave Lee Lucky of neighboring Gresham Towing said some Rick’s employees told him Kaady had run off flailing his arms.

What happened next is at the heart of the debate over what caused the alleged hit-and-run accidents. Family members say Kaady’s pickup ran out of gas at Rick’s, a claim later substantiated by Gresham Towing.

Kaady, the family says, ran to his father’s house to get a gas can and returned to Rick’s to find his car had been towed. He then took his mother’s blue Buick LeSabre and the gas can to search for the tow lot in the Sandy area.

They said he ignited gasoline fumes coming from the can after he lit a cigarette in the car. The can burst open, setting him on fire and setting into motion a series of events that led to three collisions, a head injury and his death.

But Gresham Towing stated that Kaady’s truck was not towed from Rick’s parking lot until mid-morning Saturday, Sept. 10 — two days after Kaady died.
Part II: Collision course

According to the Kaady family, Fouad drove his mother’s car to find a Sandy-area lot where his pickup was towed from Rick’s Custom Fencing in Gresham.

The next person to see Kaady was Sandy resident Tiffany Stanko, who was on her way home from work, traveling on Bluff Road. As Stanko neared her home, she suddenly spotted the blue Buick LeSabre that Kaady was driving in her rear view mirror, coming up “really fast.”

She said the car hit the back of her vehicle and continued to push her forward at 70 miles per hour. Stanko said she tried to keep her car pointed straight while being pushed, but eventually she began to turn sideways, sending her into a nearby ditch at about 40 miles per hour.

Greg Elwell of Boring said he was stunned as he watched “the end of a horrible accident” in his rear view mirror. He sped up as he saw the LeSabre continue toward him in order to avoid a collision. Elwell said the hood of Kaady’s car was smashed up a couple feet, leaving only a few inches of windshield visibility.

After the LeSabre struck Elwell’s car, he hit his brakes in order to slow Kaady down, since Elwell believed the driver was unconscious. Before long, he said the LeSabre pulled away, and Kaady gave Elwell a “thumbs up” as he passed.

“He was out of control,” Elwell recalled, driving “completely crazy.”

Kaady’s family maintains that Fouad’s erratic driving was caused by a dangerous situation inside the car. They said his pickup had run out of gas before it was towed, and that he had brought a gasoline can from his parents’ house to refuel the vehicle. Kaady lost control of his vehicle when he accidentally ignited the gas can’s fumes with a lit cigarette.

Sheriff’s Detective Steve Hyson later reported that Kaady’s body had severe burns “about his upper torso, face, and into his scalp.” Sandy firefighter Brent Hergert said Kaady had burns from his mid-sternum up, which would have put the man’s health in “serious condition.”

But the Oregon State Police Arson Investigation Team found there was no evidence to indicate that the LeSabre’s fire had started from inside the car. They did not find any remnants of a metal or plastic gas can in the car.

In between the two collisions, Carol Vinnacombe said she saw Kaady pass her on Bluff Road.

“He grabbed onto (his) steering wheel and looked really intensely. It seemed to me his eyes were wide, like he just had this wild look on his face,” she told police.

Vinnacombe said she noticed smoke coming from the front of the car and underneath it but not from within it. She said she never saw flames.

Before crashing into a forested area on Bluff Road near Hauglum Road, Kaady’s car left a trail of three grass fires, which, according to Sandy Fire Captain Art Blaisdell, were about 30 square feet in size and were about 30 feet apart by the time fire crews arrived to extinguish them.

Fire Chief Gary McQueen said the fires were likely ignited because Kaady's car leaked fuel after the collision with Stanko.

After Kaady’s car came to an abrupt stop in the woods, Sandy resident Tamara Sedgwick said she got out of her car and yelled to find out if Kaady was okay. She said a voice then answered back something like, “I’m here. I’ve known you all my life.”

She said a man, later identified as Ronald Poirier, had gone into the woods to help Kaady but had come back after Kaady allegedly kicked him in the chest. After Poirier came out, Sedgwick said Kaady kept saying, “Yeah, come back in here. Come back in here; I’m hurt,” but not sincerely, in a “taunting” way.

“He was yelling, almost screaming,” she recalled. “It wasn’t the voice of somebody who was in desperation and dying; more smart allecky. He was definitely not acting normal.”

Witness Frayne Leigh McAtee of Edmonds, Wash., also said Kaady was screaming in the woods, like he was angry with someone.

Poirier, a surveyor working in the area, said he immediately ran into the woods to check on Kaady after seeing his car crash. He said he found the man standing in the wooded area, totally naked, about 25 to 30 yards away from the roadway.

He asked Kaady if he was okay, to which the man mimicked, “Are you okay?” in what Poirier said was a “sarcastic tone.” He said Kaady then ran at him, jumped up and kicked him hard in the center of his chest.

Poirier said he grabbed Kaady’s foot and spun him down the ground before running out of the woods. He too said Kaady called out after him, saying, “Come on, come on, anytime.”

Kaady’s family has alleged that Poirier had sought out Kaady after learning that he had caused the man’s niece, Stanko, to crash her car. According to Kaady’s cousin Zaki Kahl, Poirier came at Fouad with a bat and grabbed him. Kahl said Kaady kicked Poirier to defend himself.

Poirier said he had no knowledge of his niece’s wreck until coming home after the incident, and no knowledge of the accident’s connection to the naked man until hours later.

The group of people standing in front of the burning car told 9-1-1 operators that they heard what they thought was a gunshot from within the forest, but investigators never found a gun at the scene. McQueen said the sound likely came from the LeSabre’s tires exploding during the car fire.

Nearly a dozen people called to report the car fire and the various brush fires that had started to grow. Sandy Police Officer Bergin and Sheriff’s deputy Willard were among those sent to the fire scene to protect Sandy firefighters tasked with extinguishing the blazes. Bergin blocked the road with his patrol car. With reports of a naked, possibly armed man in the woods, Deputy Willard took out his shotgun to give firefighters cover had they needed it.

Meanwhile, after walking westward through the woods and the property of a nearby nursery, Kaady emerged on Southeast 362nd Avenue, bleeding and burned. He walked northbound on 362nd and quickly caught the attention of many in the area.

Sherri Markham saw Kaady after her dog started barking at the man. Markham said Kaady appeared to have a “normal gait,” and that there was nothing odd about him, other than the fact that he was naked and bloody.

The officers were advised that a state trooper had been flagged down by a woman who claimed a naked man was walking down Southeast 362nd Avenue. Bergin and Willard ran toward Bergin’s patrol vehicle. Willard hung on to his shotgun. The two headed north on Bluff Road as Kaady encountered more people on 362nd.

Paul White was working in his front yard when Kaady passed him. “He wasn’t saying any words,” White recalled. “He was just making noises.” White said Kaady “looked pretty bad,” with a “good share of his body covered in blood.”

Kaady came within 10 feet of White and grunted at him.

“The look in his eyes was like a dazed look,” White said.

The close encounter frightened White enough to prompt him to grab a stick for protection. “I didn’t even know what I was dealing with at the time.”

As Kaady walked down the road, White said the man was “howling like a wolf and acting like an airplane. He was just acting goofy.”

Herbert Lloyd was also outside his house when Kaady walked by. He described the man as “painted up all red, screaming, and trotting stark naked.”

Elaine Thornlimb had followed Kaady in her SUV since the man emerged onto 362nd. She said Kaady waved at her and seemed unaware of his injuries. When dogs barked at him, she said he would bark back.

Thornlimb trailed Kaady slowly while she called 9-1-1 to get the man medical help and motioned other would-be Good Samaritans away. Two different times during his northbound walk, Kaady turned around, jumped on Thornlimb’s vehicle and pounded on her sunroof. After the second time, he sat down on the road, cross-legged and growling.

It was then that the patrol car carrying Bergin and Willard approached from the north.
Part III: Confrontation

Fouad Kaady already had been through a lot by the time police found him traveling northbound on Southeast 362nd Avenue. Witnesses said he drove erratically in the Mt. Hood Community College parking lot and appeared to have “lost everything” while at a drive-through cigarette shop.

According to the Kaady family, Fouad drove his mother’s car to find a Sandy-area lot where his pickup was towed from Rick’s Custom Fencing in Gresham earlier that day. Once in the Sandy area, Kaady collided with two different cars, set three grass fires and crashed into a ditch on Bluff Road.

After walking westward through the woods and the property of a nearby nursery, Kaady emerged on Southeast 362nd Avenue, naked, bleeding and burned. He walked northbound and quickly caught the attention of many in the area.

Several witnesses testified that when Sandy Police Officer Bill Bergin and Clackamas County Sheriff’s Deputy David Willard pulled up to the naked hit-and-run suspect, they emerged from the squad car, guns drawn. One of Kaady’s hands was tucked into his lap.

“He appeared to be just kind of catatonic,” Willard said, noting that Kaady was just sitting and rocking, not looking at anyone.

For the next four to five minutes, the officers talked with Kaady, urging him to lie on his stomach, a command Kaady reportedly ignored. Family members say that Kaady did not want to put his burned flesh on the hot pavement, although police say they pointed to a grassy area.

“We wanted to get him to lie on his stomach so that we could get him in restraints,” Bergin said. “That’s one of the safest ways to apprehend a cooperative subject.”

Willard said he wasn’t going to let Kaady leave the scene but admitted he wasn’t sure how he was going to apprehend him, even if he complied. He thought, “I’m gonna wait until other officers get here before we do anything.”

He said he did not want to touch Kaady at all due to the amount of blood that covered the man’s body. Willard was specifically concerned that by touching Kaady, he could contract hepatitis or AIDS.

“Somebody needs to glove up before they touch this man,” Willard thought to himself.

After it was clear to the police that Kaady wasn’t going to comply with their commands, Willard threatened him with a Taser — a nonlethal weapon that delivers 50,000 volts of electricity to a subject via two metal prongs.

“Please don’t,” Kaady said to the police. He wearily begged but still did not comply with the officers’ commands.

One of the witnesses closest to the incident, Ron Van Meter of Van Meter Nursery, said Kaady was growling at the officers and taunting them throughout the exchange.

“He just kind of sat there and shook his head,” Bergin agreed, “and almost had like a grin (on) his face.”

Bergin then sneaked behind Kaady and shot the Taser barbs into the suspect’s shoulder blades, which sent Kaady flat on his back.

“He continued to move a little bit during the first shock,” Willard said, “which sort of surprised me.”

Officers then told Kaady to roll on his stomach or he’d be shocked again. There was no response. Bergin delivered another shock through the barbs that were still in Kaady’s back.

“At this point,” Bergin told investigators later, “he started laughing and giggling.”

Kaady then sat up. Willard fired his Taser, but only one barb penetrated Kaady’s arm.

Then, according to several witnesses, Kaady sprang up with a burst of energy. “He went nutso on them” all of the sudden, said witness Herbert Lloyd.

“He came to life with a vigor of energy,” agreed Karl Neering, who was working at Van Meter Nursery about 50 feet away from the scene. He said Kaady soon realized that the Taser darts were causing him pain, and he physically removed them from his shoulder blades and arm.

“He basically became wilder and wilder. I was afraid,” Neering said.

At about that time, an ambulance arrived at the scene and parked a few hundred feet to the north of the incident. Paramedic Barbara Noland said that from the time Kaady sprang up, “he was wild and appeared to be out of control.”

Willard said Kaady was still visibly being shocked when he got up. “I remembered thinking, ‘Oh, my God, I’m Tasing this guy and he’s getting up.’ And I started to get really scared about the kind of strength I was seeing.”

Van Meter said he was concerned that Kaady was going to come and attack him and admitted that if he came any closer, he would have been forced to run him over to protect himself.

Co-worker Pavel Androsov said the burst of energy sent Kaady running zig-zag toward the patrol car. Witness Robert Montgomery said Kaady “came at” the officers but noted, “He was either trying to get away or was trying to attack them.”

The officers testified that it was the latter. Willard said Kaady ran away from the officers until the Taser darts came out of his body. “Then he turned and faced us,” he said.

They alleged that Kaady had repeatedly yelled, “I’m going to kill you!” as he ran at them. No other witnesses reported that Kaady said that.

Willard said Kaady began to chase him until the suspect leaped onto the trunk of the patrol car. He moved on top of the roof, waving his arms in the air.

At that point, Willard thought to himself, “I’m going to need to shoot this man,” again stating that he did not want to come in contact with Kaady's blood. “I can’t let him touch me.”

It wasn’t long until the officers realized that the shotgun Deputy Willard had brought was sitting on the hood of the patrol car, in plain view. The car’s driver’s side door was wide open, and the engine was running.

Many witnesses said the next few moments happened extremely fast.

Several witnesses said Kaady was just standing and/or jumping up and down on the patrol car and didn’t say that he was in attack stance. But police say Kaady readied himself to lunge at Willard and again threatened to kill the officers.

Bergin said he was concerned that Kaady was about to attack the deputy to hurt him or steal his handgun. He was also worried that the suspect would try to get the shotgun on the hood of the car.

Willard said he didn’t want Kaady to touch him for any reason and yelled, “Shoot!”

He fired three very quick succession rounds at the center of Kaady’s chest. Bergin fired five shots. They shot to kill, assuming that the man was on drugs and that he could have possessed chemically enhanced strength. Toxicology reports, which could corroborate or disprove that theory, will not be released.

Willard said after that after Kaady was hit three times, he exhibited what appeared to be a shocked, surprised look before he fell backward onto the pavement.
The aftermath

Witnesses have varying opinions on the police officers’ use of deadly force. Van Meter said the officers had no other alternative because the man was out of control.

Montgomery said he felt the deadly force was unnecessary since Kaady was docile before being shot with the Taser. Montgomery said he knew police were scared by the way they were moving and acting.

Noland said she was surprised the officers didn’t tackle Kaady since they had the chance when he was sitting on the ground.

Witnesses Elaine Thornlimb and Paul White were also horrified at the incident’s end.

Androsov noted that he thought the police shot Kaady too many times.

A grand jury vindicated Bergin and Willard of any criminal charges, but Kaady supporters continue to protest the action. “Never forget Fouad” stickers have been distributed, and there has been talk of a civil suit against the county or a federal appeal of the grand jury decision. Kaady family attorney Shannon Connall was unavailable for comment as of press time.

Although the police were not indicted and will not face criminal charges, both the Sandy Police Department and the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office have vowed that internal shooter review boards will conduct additional investigations to determine whether policies and procedures were followed in the Kaady incident. Police are due to return the results of those investigations by Friday, Nov. 25.

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