Friday, July 01, 2005

The Death of James Jahar Perez

March 28, 2004
24 seconds after Portland Police officers notified their dispatch center that they had stopped a vehicle, Jahar Perez was shot and killed. 24 seconds. Of all the shooting incidents that I've examined, this is the one that confuses me the most. Perez was hinky, reaching around, being suspicious. Cops run into hinky dudes all the time. Guys that reach under the seat as the officer approaches the vehicle or those who poke around in the glove box with the cop at their window. Not the wisest thing to do, but not unusual. There are three generally accepted methods of reacting to this knucklehead behavior: First, verbal command: "Hands on the steering wheel, motherfucker." Second, verbal command while screwing the barrel of your handgun in the driver's ear (not recommended but effective) or third, beat a tactical retreat and access the situation from adequate cover. For some reason, Jason Sery and his partner, Macomber went to option four, grapple with the guy and then shoot him.

What I want to know is what happened in that police car between the time the officers spotted Perez and the time they initiated the stop? Something happened in that car between; a conversation between Sery and Macomber that caused them to approach Perez ready to rock and roll. I've looked through the old news reports, but haven't found anything. Sery has resigned and I'm sure his partner is keeping mum. Maybe it'll come out at the civil trial, but I'm not hopeful.


The One True b!X said...

Open question #1: Did the district attorney withhold from the grand jury the existence of a cell phone in the car, which may or may not have been what Perez was going for in his pocket (even as stupid as that would have been anyway), in the same way in which he withheld that information from the jury of inquest?

Michael Bigham said...

I'm not sure if the DA withheld the information or not. We have to understand that the grand jury isn't necessarily a fair and open forum. Other than the jury panel and the court recorder, the DA is the only other person in the room. He or she conducts the questioning of witnesses and determines what evidence will be submitted. The arraignment process is more open, though I'm not sure how fair it is. Both are allowed in Oregon.

Oddly enough, I would think that if Perez was holding the cell phone in his hand, it would be considered to be in favor of the officers: i.e., "The subject was holding a metal object which I believed to be a weapon and fearing for my life . . ." Courts have ruled that officers merely have to articulate their feeling of being in danger. Seeing a metal object in a person's hand may serve to heighten the feeling of danger.

Since the phone was merely present in the car, that might be an explanation of what Perez was reaching for, but that information would not favor the officers. The important point is that no weapon was within Perez's reach and Officer Sery's task of justifying that he was in fear of his life is more difficult.

Anonymous said...

Their were no weapons in the car. Nothing bulky was in his pockets. He was angry because he should not of been driving I believe. But also for being pulled over for not signalling the right amount of feet from his uncles car turn. (Remember they had no clue who they were shooting.) Then the lights when on to stop him to find out who he was. Later Macomber did say the car was too nice and was worth to much to be in that neighborhood. My question would be when you are pulled over the first question I thought was asked was. May I have your license and registration please. Should he be allowed to look for his id. I went to the inquest and his car wasn't messy. Just looks like he was looking for an id card. He also had a seat belt on when he was shot. Could he take his seat belt off before being pulled from the car. Maybe thats what he reached for. Everyone knows it was for a weapon. I don't understand the grand jury or how they would come to that outcome if they had all the facts. I know everything isnt fair. But if I was on the jury maybe they were scared. They know police aren't usually held accountable and have a perfect record of justifiable shootings here in Oregon. "Never a mistake". All they have to say is "I was in fear of my life". No ones perfect but our law enforcement. The jury members may have believe they would be in danger and get pulled over and shoot for not signalling the 100feet before turning. Maybe thats why they did what they did.

Who knows. I just want to see some form of justice take place in this matter.

Sam(ptld resident)