March 8, 2002
Police: Few options in motel shooting
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.
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