counter stats
What Happened To Fouad Kaady: Our debt to the deputies and Kaady's kin

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.

No comments: