James E. Washington was trying to break up a fight outside of a bar in Portland when police opened fire, striking and killing the 45-year-old U.S. Navy veteran.
As Fox News reported, Washington was shot on Friday night by Portland State University campus police following a scuffle outside of a sports bar. Witnesses said Washington, a father of three, was trying to intervene in the fight when his handgun slipped from his grasp. Washington, a licensed gun owner who had a concealed carry permit, was shot by police when he reached for the gun.
Cell phone video of the fight taken by witness Keyaira Smith showed what appeared to be the gun on Washington’s hip as he tried to separate the bar patrons who were fighting, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
“The gun slipped out of the holster when he had fallen, and I think he may have tried to retrieve it,” Smith said. “Then they said ‘gun.’ “
Other witnesses said that police warned Jason Washington several times not to touch the gun, then opened fire when he did anyway.
After the shooting, Washington was remembered as a peaceful man who loved his family. For the last 20 years, he had worked for the U.S. Postal Service in downtown Portland.
“He loved those kids, he was crazy about them,” David Norton, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Branch 82, told Oregon Public Radio.
“He was a big personality. He always had a lot to say. He kind of had a larger-than-life personality. He was always very animated and exuberant. And if you ever worked with the guy or knew the guy, you would never forget him.”
The fatal shooting came amid a weekend of widespread violence and demonstrations in Portland. On Saturday, the far-right group Patriot Prayer clashed with Antifa protesters at a downtown rally unrelated to Washington’s shooting, with police ultimately declaring the violence a riot and breaking up the groups.
Students also planned another protest against Washington’s fatal shooting. Many of them have spoken out about arming the campus police officers, as the force has only carried guns for two years.
“This is why we didn’t want armed police,” Portland State University senior Olivia Pace, one of the protest’s organizers, told the Portland Mercury. “The university was wrong the whole time. This was never about our safety.” She says it was only a matter of time before someone would be wrongfully shot by an armed officer.
The officers who responded to the scene, identified as Shawn McKenzie and James Dewey, have been placed on paid administrative leave, the Oregonian reported.