15-year-old shot by police was unarmed.
SPRINGFIELD - A police officer who shot and killed an unarmed 15-year-old boy early Sunday probably will not face any legal penalty, Lane County District Attorney Doug Harcleroad announced Monday.
"Assuming we don't get anything new, it's a justified shooting in our minds," Harcleroad said.
A Springfield police officer with less than two years on the force told inves- tigators he thought Jason Michael Porter had a gun when the officer fired a single bullet from his service weapon through the driver's side window and hit Porter in the jaw. Authorities are not releasing the officer's name.
The Thurston High School sophomore did not have a weapon, Harcleroad said.
It was the first fatal shooting by a Springfield police officer since 1993.
Porter's parents, Charles and Kelly Porter, were angered by Harcleroad's decision.
"My son was shot and killed because he made a gesture with his hand," Charles Porter said Monday. "I think it was an unjustified shooting, and everybody I talk to thinks it is, too."
"It just killed me," Kelly Porter said of her son's death. "I cannot believe an officer would shoot a little 15-year-old.
`I think the officer was just a little too trigger-happy."
Harcleroad said his decision is based on preliminary information. He said the investigation being conducted by Oregon State Police should be completed by Friday, and he'll make a final ruling then.
However, he said he doesn't expect his conclusion will change.
Police released a sketchy account of the incident on Sunday. On Monday, Harcleroad provided more details, saying the incident unfolded this way:
The Springfield officer was driving east on Main Street in the early morning hours Sunday when he spotted a silver Dodge pickup matching the description of a truck reported stolen from the Gateway Mall area on Friday.
The officer followed the truck north onto 42nd Street and tried to pull it over with lights and siren.
The truck didn't stop. It turned into a Weyerhaeuser Co. parking lot and circled around. The officer followed, while another officer parked near the lot's entrance.
The truck went onto some nearby elevated railroad tracks and stopped. The officer stopped nearby and approached the truck with his weapon drawn.
"(The officer) was making, at that time, a felony stop," Harcleroad said, because the truck was stolen and the driver was eluding police.
As the officer approached the driver's side door, he "thought he saw a hand come up with a firearm in it and he fired one round," Harcleroad said. "He thought he was going to be shot in the face."
The bullet shattered the window and hit Porter in the jaw. The officer opened the car door and pulled Porter out. The boy was bleeding.
"He died there on the ground," Harcleroad said.
Someone called for medics, and the other officer ran to the truck. Porter was pronounced dead at the scene. The shooting took place at 12:08 a.m. Sunday.
Under Oregon law, police can use deadly physical force when the officer "reasonably believes that the officer's life or personal safety is endangered in the particular circumstances involved." That was the case in Sunday's shooting, Harcleroad said.
"He believed he was going to be shot in the face by a fleeing felon, and so he fired," said Harcleroad, whose job includes reviewing all incidents in which a police officer shoots a person and deciding whether the shooting is justified.
Following standard department procedure, both officers are on administrative leave, Springfield police Capt. Richard Harrison said.
Fatal police shootings in Springfield are unusual.
Nearly 12 years have passed since the most recent Spring- field police shooting death. On Nov. 26, 1993, officer John Slimack fatally shot 44-year-old Joe Gene Barton after Barton took cover under a wooden deck and pointed a pistol at the officer. Authorities deemed the shooting justified.
Springfield police have shot at least 13 people since February 1964, according to The Register-Guard's newspaper archives. Of those shootings, seven have been fatal.
Charles Porter said he is considering legal action over Sunday's shooting.
"This has been a nightmare," Kelly Porter said. "You don't have your baby any- more."
She described her son as a good boy who made friends easily and had played sports when he was younger. If he had one weakness, it was being too easily influenced by friends, she said.
Porter was on juvenile probation stemming from a 2001 arrest on charges of burglary, criminal mischief, reckless burning, theft and possessing alcohol as a minor. He also violated his probation at least once, court records showed.
His mother said the teen, with his friends, once broke into a home that was for sale. He also broke into a trailer at a campground, ate a bag of cookies and burned paper in the restroom, she said.
"It was peer pressure," she said. "Jason got blamed for all of it."
Charles Porter said the teen had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He was the second youngest of five Porter boys.
"He was on medication. A lot of times he didn't take it, so he was wound up, like most young kids are," he said. "He got carried away, stole a truck, but there's no reason to get shot and killed for it."
The family has established the Jason Porter Memorial Fund to help pay for funeral costs. Donations may be made at any Selco Credit Union branch.
Staff writer Jeff Wright contributed to this report.
Thomas Boyd / The Register-Guard Kelly Porter (left) is consoled on Monday by her friend Lorraine Woodcock. Porter's 15-year-old son, Jason, was killed early Sunday morning after Springfield police pursued the teen and stopped him while he was driving a stolen vehicle. "(The officer) thought he saw a hand come up with a firearm in it and he fired one round. He thought he was going to be shot in the face." - DOUG HARCLEROAD, LANE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
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|Title Annotation:||Crime; Jason Michael Porter, a Thurston High School sophomore, died early Sunday morning from a single bullet fired by a Springfield police officer. Authorities say the shooting was justified.|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Jun 28, 2005|
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