March 8, 2002

Police: Few options in motel shooting case

PORTLAND, ORE. (AP) - Police officers who shot to death a man inside a motel room last month thought they were left with no other options because the suspect was attacking a 3-year-old boy, according to documents released in the case.

Byron Clay Hammick Jr., 26, was shot during the early-morning hours of Feb. 22 at a Motel 6. The boy, whom Hammick was babysitting while his mother went out, suffered bruises but was otherwise unhurt. He has been placed in a foster home.

A grand jury declined to indict the two officers who shot Hammick a total of four times, in the head, abdomen and arm.

The two officers - Stephen Mosier and Christopher Gilbert - are on administrative leave.

The Oregonian reported in Friday's editions that the officers who responded considered using pepper spray and batons to subdue Hammick, but decided that the motel room was too small, and that using physical force on the man wouldn't work because he was too large.

"The officers did the best they could with the tools available to them," said Cmdr. James Ferraris, head of the Portland Police Bureau's detective division.

Although the Police Bureau has defended the officers' actions, Hammick's family, friends and members of Portland's black community wonder why no other steps were taken to subdue him.

"Could there have been a different way this could have been handled?" asked Philip Johnson, a cousin of Hammick's.

Mosier was the first officer on the scene. He looked through a broken window and saw Hammick thrashing around with the child.

"He was gonna mash the life out of him," Mosier told investigators.

After the second officer arrived, Mosier stepped through the window, pulled out his 9mm handgun and fired one shot into Hammick's midsection. Hammick lowered the child, and Mosier fired two more shots. From outside the window, Gilbert fired twice.

Hammick was not armed, but toxicology tests revealed PCP and methamphetamine in his system.

According to 911 tapes, Hammick called dispatchers between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. to complain about noise coming from the parking lot of a dance club across the street. He called 911 again at 3:05 a.m. and threatened, "I'll kill this boy!"

The boy's mother had been evicted from her apartment for failing to pay rent. She had run into Hammick a few nights before the shooting after not seeing him for six years. That night, she asked him to watch her son so she could look for an apartment. At about 12:30 a.m., she left the room and was picked up by a friend in a limousine. Police said she played pool and bar-hopped over the next several hours.

Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site.