PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Of the many awards handed out by the Portland Police Bureau, the certificate of appreciation was given to a civilian worker who helped alert police about a potentially radicalized juvenile who had moved to the metro area from Somali.
At the time of the incident, Khadija Fai worked at Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO). The organization provides social services and assistance with integration for refugees into the metro.
According to police, a single mother of six arrived in Portland and last July, the mother went to IRCO to meet with Fai. The mother spoke about her son who had disappeared. The boy walked out of the family’s Gresham apartment and never returned. The case was reported to Gresham Police. By the time the mother had arrived at IRCO, she had learned some new information and wasn’t sure what to do about it.
Fai worked with IRCO to facilitate police-refugee community dialogue and was able to alert police about the mother’s concerns. The mother reported that she was worried her son had been radicalized in the days prior to his disappearance. She said her son started to attend a mosque and that an unknown man came by their apartment looking for her son.
The boy was eventually located in Seattle. Fai was given the certificate of appreciation for her dedication to serving the refugee community as well as building trust in communities that traditionally fear police.
The award was presented at 2016 Portland Police Bureau’s Awards Ceremony.
Other awards presented included:
In October 2014, police were dispatched to reports of a man lying unconscious across the street from the Portland Rescue Mission. The man, later identified as William “Cougar” Burleigh was found non-responsive and was suffering from a head injury. He was transported to the hospital where he died two days later.
The officers and detectives who initially responded were unable to identify any witnesses. The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office determined, at first, that Burleigh’s injuries “were consistent” with a fall, and ruled his death to be “undetermined.” Police said, based on the head injury, his blood alcohol level, the location of where Burleigh’s body was found, it was plausible that he had accidentally fallen backwards.
Portland Police Homicide Detective Anthony Merrill was assigned to help with the investigation and eventually became the primary investigator. Merrill spent months reviewing various video clips and meeting with social service partners, city agencies, and private security firms. He conducted surveillance of homeless youth in an attempt to identify key witnesses.
Eventually he located witnesses who actually saw Burleigh get punched in the face, causing him to fall backwards, hitting his head on the pavement. After being knocked unconscious, several subjects started going through Burleigh’s pockets.
Based on the new information, the Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the case a homicide.
Multnomah County deputy district attorney Amity Girt prosecuted the case and helped in several of the transient witness interviews. Portland Patrol Incorporated Jimmy Bare, a retired PPB officer, was “instrumental” several times in helping Merrill locate key witnesses based on Bare’s knowledge of homeless street youth.
On Jan. 8, police responded to the downtown Marriott Hotel on reports that a man attempted to kidnap an infant. The officers were told that the suspect tried to “wrench a little girl from the arms of her nanny as she walked down the street,” according to police.
Officers arrived to find Jonathan Sweeney holding the suspect on the ground with the help of two other people. Police learned that the man, who was intoxicated, approached the nanny and tried to grab the 1-year-old girl. As the man and nanny struggled over the child, Sweeney came running from several yards away to help.
Sweeney was punched in the face but continued to wrestle with the suspect and held him until he arrived.
Life Saving Award
On New Year’s Day 2016, officers responded to reports of a fight in the area of Southeast 124 and Powell Blvd. When they were headed to the scene, they got reports that someone was shot. Officers Dominic Lovato, Dewey Madison and Allison Renander found a person lying on the ground “with a gaping wound in his chest,” according to the bureau.
“With the chaos still going on around them…these three officers began performing emergency first-aid. Madison had gauze packing on his ballistic vest and he and Lovato used it to stem the severe bleeding and to prevent the man’s lung from collapsing any more than it had possibly done.
Renander couldn’t find a pulse and started chest compressions on the man until paramedics arrived and took over care.
Medical personnel later told police that the man would have died had they not intervened.
You can read the full program and details about the other awards handed out on Thursday: