Portland Residents Honor Kendra James, A Black Woman Fatally Shot By Police, On The 15th Anniversary Of Her Death
James was 21-years-old when she was killed.
In May 2003, Kendra James was fatally shot by a police officer in Portland, Oregon. The police pulled over her vehicle due to an outstanding warrant for her arrest.
According to KATU, Portland residents have decided to honor her life in a big way, 15 years later.
Looking to honor her, residents pinned to the gate of an overpass near where she was killed that read, "Say her name, Kendra James," "Black Lives Matter" and "Let's create a beloved community where no one is killed by cops."
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One month after James' death, a grand jury decided not to prosecute Officer Scott McCollister, the cop who shot her, Willamette Week reported.
Officer Rick Bean pulled over the rental car James was in with two friends, hoping to arrest her. A warrant for her arrest for attempted possession of a controlled substance was open. According to McCollister's testimony, James hopped from the back seat to the front seat in order to drive the car away and McCollister — who tried to pull James from out of he car — fired one fatal shot to prevent her from escaping.
According to the officers at the scene, Officer Kenneth Reynolds attempted to restrain James with his taser prior to McCollister's fatal shot. The officers said that the taser hit James' clothes rather than her skin, limiting its effect.
Though there were no burn marks on her skin, experts posited that she may have still felt the taser; the experts also believe the shock may have jolted her, causing her to instinctively put the car into gear.
“Officer Reynolds was shoulder to shoulder with you ... equipped with a taser and prepared to deploy it. ... However, your placement inside the vehicle as well as the size of the car door opening did not provide enough room for a desirable or effective taser deployment,” read a police discipline report intended for McCollister.
According to the Port Allliance, there remains some doubt about the details of the day. McCollister's testimony runs contrary to those of three independent witnesses: Brician Williams, Meilani Carruthers and Terrol White, who was driving the car when it was pulled over.
While what happened may never be clear, many still believe that James' death was unnecessary.
"I think this is another in a line of police shootings in Portland that could have been prevented," said Richard Brown, an instructor at the Salem-based Western Community Policing Center.
McCollister remains a police officer in Portland.