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Shooting victim not unknown to Portland police

News

Shooting victim not unknown to Portland police

PORTLAND — Police say David Okot, the man officers shot and killed over the weekend, had more than 50 documented contacts with police and at least eight arrests and convictions.

Okot's family also once filed a lawsuit claiming excessive use of force by police against Okot.

Okot, a 26-year-old Sudanese immigrant who has lived in Portland for at least a decade, was killed on Weymouth Street in the Parkside neighborhood Saturday at 7:35 p.m. Acting Police Chief Joe Loughlin said officers fired at Okot after the man "pulled a gun on them."

Meanwhile, Loughlin said he is delaying meeting with the family and leaders of the Sudanese community until they have a chance to calm down.

"Because there is so much emotion running right now, we're going to wait to meet," Loughlin said Tuesday. "We're asking people to remain calm."

Loughlin said he has spoken with Sudanese community leaders in person and over the phone about the killing.

"This has been a tough and difficult situation and tragic for the family of the deceased as well as the officers and their families," Loughlin said Monday during a press conference at the police station.

Police were called to the Parkside neighborhood Saturday, Loughlin said, in response to a call reporting a man who "appeared intoxicated and had a handgun in the waistband of his pants." He said the caller also reported that the man was displaying the gun to people in the street.

A man matching the description provided by the caller was found on Weymouth Street by responding officers. Officers Benjamin Roper and Joshua Wiseman reportedly shot at Okot after he pulled the gun.

"When he got up to the porch he pulled a gun on them," Loughlin said. "One officer did think he was fired at."

Immediately following the shooting, responding officers moved Okot off the porch because they mistakenly believed there was another person in the apartment building who was dangerous. Okot was given medical treatment "very quickly," Loughlin said, and was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Police recovered a semi-automatic weapon from the scene. Police have a witness to the shooting and Loughlin said video cameras in the responding officers' cruisers caught some of the incident, too.

The two officers involved in the shooting have been put on administrative leave pending investigation by the attorney general's office and an internal investigation by the Portland Police Department. Putting officers on leave is common practice following an officer-involved shooting.

Because the shooting is still under investigation, Loughlin said he could not release additional details.

Loughlin said Okot had an extensive arrest record since turning 18 years old in 2000. He was convicted of theft, criminal mischief, violation of conditions of release and threatening display of a weapon. Okot and his family were also involved in an altercation with police that led to an excessive force lawsuit being filed by the Okots against the Police Department in July 2001.

Police reported at the time that they responded to the Okot home for a call of a suicidal teenager with a history of weapons violations and found David Okot holding a screwdriver and threatening to kill himself. Officers attempted to subdue him, according to news reports, and at that point family members tried to stop them by climbing on them and punching the officers. 

Family members at the time said they thought police were trying to kill Okot. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed.

Kate Bucklin can be contacted at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net
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