AG finds Portland police justified in Okot shooting
PORTLAND — The attorney general last week determined police officers acted in self-defense on April 25 when they shot and killed an armed, intoxicated man in Parkside.
Officers Benjamin Roper and Joshua Wiseman shot 26-year-old David Okot the evening of April 25, shortly after responding to the report of a man in the Parkside neighborhood displaying a gun to people in the street.
According to the report by Attorney General Janet Mills, the officers shot Okot several times following a brief stand-off with the man on the steps of a Weymouth Street apartment building.
The AG office investigates all use of deadly force by police officers.
Okot was armed, and the officers said he pulled a gun from his waistband after refusing repeatedly to show his hands. Police moved him from the porch where he was shot because they believed there was an additional threat inside the building. Okot died at the scene.
The report said that while Roper and Wiseman were dealing with Okot, Officer Nicholas Goodman arrived at the scene and became involved with a second man who was later determined to not be an associate of Okot, but rather someone to whom Okot had tried to sell his gun.
A toxicology report determined Okot's blood alcohol level was 0.26 percent – more than three times the legal limit – at the time of the incident and there was cocaine in his blood. There was also cocaine found in Okot's pocket.
Okot's .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol, which the report said he tossed during the shooting, was found 67 feet from the scene on a steep slope, and it had Okot's DNA on it.
Okot's death lead to rising tensions between the city's Sudanese population and police. Okot was a Sudanese immigrant and his shooting followed other, unsolved, crimes involving local Sudanese. Those incidents included the shooting of Mercy Hospital security guard James Angelo last summer.
Okot was known to police, having an extensive arrest record since turning 18 in 2000. His family also filed an excessive force lawsuit against the Police Department in July 2001. At the time, police were called to the Okot home because Okot was reportedly threatening to kill himself with a screwdriver.
According to news reports at that time, police tried to subdue Okot, but his family thought they were trying to kill him and fought with the officers. The lawsuit was dismissed.
Police Chief James Craig released a statement Friday, following the AG's announcement, saying the event in April had heartbreaking consequences for Okot's family. Police, the mayor and the governor have met with representatives of the Sudanese community to discuss their safety concerns since the Okot shooting.
Okot's family has hired defense attorney Daniel Lilley and in July filed a wrongful death notice of claim against the city.