Friends and family of man killed by Gresham police say he was running away

Protesters gather in Gresham Wednesday to rally against a police shooting that left a man dead. (Photo: KATU/Chopper 2)

Dozens of protesters rallied outside Gresham police headquarters Wednesday evening, demanding justice for Bodhi Phelps. Phelps was killed last week in a shooting involving two Gresham officers.

"Shot in the back eight times by Gresham police while running away," protester Curtis Hansoni proclaimed.

It's a version of events Phelps supporters are subscribing to. But it's a very different story than what Gresham police say happened. In the official police version of events, Phelps initially ran from officers when they responded to reports of a woman being kidnapped and assaulted by a man. The man and woman were later identified as Phelps and his girlfriend. When officers caught up with Phelps, they say he pulled out two knives and threatened them. According to police, witnesses heard numerous commands to "drop the knife" followed by gunshots.

Phelps' girlfriend, whom police say called 911 that night to report being assaulted, contradicted the police version in a KATU interview last week. She participated in Wednesday's protest along with Phelps' mother, Shiloh Phelps.

"It could happen to any one of your sons at any time," said Shiloh Phelps. "Any one of your daughters, any grandkids, nephews, nieces. My son should not have been shot. He was running away."

KATU reached out to Gresham police once again to ask about the family's claims. Spokesman John Rasmussen said the department isn't able to release much more information to protect the integrity of the case. But he did reiterate information released last week, saying Phelps was not running away from officers when he was shot nor was he shot in the back.

Rasmussen says all evidence, including the medical examiner's report, will be presented to a grand jury. That process could begin as early as next week.

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