Portland, OR – Portland officials quickly announced that the suspect shot by an officer on Thursday night was a white male and released video to shut down the false narrative that police had shot an unarmed black man which had sparked protests in the city (video below).
Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Chief Chuck Lovell released a statement with the video on Friday night and explained that it had been released so quickly to combat a false narrative that had led to violent protests at the crime scene on June 24, KATU reported.
“While the investigation is still in its early stages, and releasing evidence at this point is rare, providing this video is critical to combat misinformation being spread,” Chief Lovell said. “Transparency and community trust are extremely important to us, but so is a full, complete, and thorough investigation. This illustrates how important it is to allow the investigation process to unfold before spreading unverified information.”
“An officer use of deadly force is among the most important investigations that we do, and it’s crucial that we take the time to do it right,” he added.
The incident occurred just after 7 p.m. on June 24 when Portland police officers from the North Precinct attempted to conduct a welfare check on a man at a Motel 6 in the 500-block of NE Holladay Street, KOIN reported.
“After officers arrived with paramedics, they encountered a man matching that description and an officer-involved shooting took place,” PPB said in a press release early on June 24.
“Our officer encountered a very difficult and dynamic situation that no officer wants to face,” Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a video statement posted to social media.
Witnesses told KOIN that the incident began as a fight between two men, one of whom stabbed the other.
Surveillance video from the hotel showed the suspect – identified by PPB as 40-year-old Michael Ray Townsend – sitting on the steps of the motel talking to three police officers and three medics.
Suddenly, the police officers backed away from Townsend.
A black officer, later identified as PPB Officer Curtis Brown, drew his weapon and pointed it at Townsend, the video showed.
At the same time, Townsend extended his arm, pointing something at the officers and medics.
The video showed the suspect advanced on the officers and medics who were backing away from him, and then lunged at Officer Brown.
Officer Brown, an 18-year-veteran of the police force, opened fire on Townsend.
The suspect’s weapon turned out to be a deadly, hand-sharpened screwdriver, KGW reported.
The suspect was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead, KOIN reported.
Moments after the shooting occurred, a crowd of Black Lives Matter and antifa protesters began to gather.
They started out chanting but the situation quickly escalated to an attack on the officers.
PPB brought in additional officers to create a perimeter around the crime scene so that the investigation would not be disrupted, but by 11 p.m., the area had become chaos.
Videos filmed at the scene showed protesters were hurling objects at police officers who were standing a line around the crime scene.
Portland Police hold the line & push antifa & far-left protesters back after they tried to tamper with a crime scene investigation. A man was shot by an officer today. He was reportedly armed with a sharp weapon. pic.twitter.com/zjyWKrcxUf— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) June 25, 2021
Police said in their press release that protesters grabbed a female officer by the baton and tried to drag her into the crowd but other officers were able to intervene.
That’s when someone in the crowd deployed pepper spray at an officer, according to PPB.
Officers citywide have responded to help with scene security.— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) June 25, 2021
Protesters attacked police vehicles, smashing windows and puncturing tires.
Officers were brought in from other areas of the city to help protect the crime scene while officers investigated the shooting, the press release said.
Videos from the scene showed officers in riot gear faced off with protesters for hours.
Breaking: Portland Police have moved a group of antifa & far-left protesters back after they gathered to try and disrupt an active crime scene investigation. Antifa said police shot a POC. Witnesses said the man was armed & was white. pic.twitter.com/dW3aQFUt0w— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) June 25, 2021
Just after midnight, PPB tackled the race-related false narrative head on and took to social media to announce that the suspect was white.
There is erroneous information being circulated on social media regarding in the officer involved shooting in the Lloyd district. We can confirm that the subject involved is an adult white male. No one else was injured.— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) June 25, 2021
Chief Lovell then released surveillance video from the hotel’s parking lot 24 hours after the incident in an effort to stop violent protests and riots that were planned for over the weekend.
The police chief said Officer Brown has been placed on paid administrative leave while the officer-involved shooting is investigated, as is protocol for all officer-involved shootings, KGW reported.
“I want to assure the community that we’re committed to a full, thorough and complete investigation,” Chief Lovell said.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content: