Dane Reister, the Portland cop who accidentally shot a fleeing suspect with live ammo instead of beanbags last June, has been indicted by a grand jury. It’s the first time a Portland police officer’s been indicted for use of force in the line of duty. The initial reports, as so frequently happens in questionable police shootings, didn’t tell the whole story…
Reister, a fifteen year veteran, mistakenly loaded live ammo in his orange, less-lethal designated shotgun before going on duty. Live ammo shells used by the Portland PD are red or blue. The less lethal stuff is yellow. Tough to confuse if you’re paying attention at all.
He plugged William Monroe with five buckshot pellets and, as portlandlive.com reports, did some serious damage.
Monroe suffered two entry wounds to his left thigh; one of the two was a “through and through” shot. Another hit his buttocks, shattering his pelvis, and puncturing his bladder, colon and injuring his rectum, his lawyer said.
Rectum? Damned near killed him. Monroe, who’s still recovering, also suffered sciatic nerve damage that may prevent him from ever walking normally again. Anyone doubt the effectiveness of buckshot as a home defense round? Didn’t think so.
Here’s the real news, though, which somehow doesn’t appear until the fifteenth paragraph of the story: Reister fired not one live ammo blast, not two, but four. They buried that lede deeper than a proctologist’s scope.
Set aside the fact that Reister somehow fired four volleys of buckshot at Monroe and only managed to hit him with part of one. His crappy shooting was a blessing, as it turned out. No, the question is, how could a trained cop fire a shotgun four times without realizing that it was buckshot coming out of his barrel instead of beanbags? Reister said he didn’t realize he hadn’t fired beanbags until he saw Monroe was bleeding.
Jurors found Reister’s mistake constituted third-degree assault, a felony, ruling Reister “recklessly” caused serious physical injury by means of a dangerous weapon or with “extreme indifference” to the value of human life. Fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor, required a finding that Reister acted with “gross deviation” from a reasonable person’s standard of care.
Just before the grand jury hearing – five months after the incident – the police bureau announced new procedures intended to prevent future ammo mix-ups.
The bureau last month adopted a new executive order, requiring that beanbag ammunition be stored only in a carrier attached to the side or stock of the orange-painted, 12-gauge shotguns.
The new order came on the eve of a court hearing where Reister’s lawyer planned to argue that the bureau’s “gross negligence” in the handling of beanbag shotguns and ammunition contributed to Reister’s shooting. For example, the bureau has no policy that prohibits officers from mixing lethal and less-lethal ammunition in their duty bags. In the weeks after Reister’s shooting, the bureau faced criticism for not having taken immediate steps to prevent a similar mishap.
Horse. Barn door. Eleventh hour legal advice.