Rifle-wielding man high on meth when shot by PPB

Steven Wayne Liffel was 52

Steven Liffel, 52, was shot to death by Portland police on December 5, 2016 (KOIN/PPB)
Steven Liffel, 52, was shot to death by Portland police on December 5, 2016 (KOIN/PPB)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A man armed with a rifle and handgun who was shot and killed by Portland police in December 2016 was under the influence of drugs, including meth, at the time.

Steven Wayne Liffel fired at police as he came out of his residence in an apartment complex around SE 148th and E. Burnside on December 5. Police went there because shots fired were reported.

According to witness testimony Liffel was acting erratically by firing his rifle, destroying his own property, shooting his own pickup, pouring liquids on the floor, starting a fire and not responding to police commands.

According to the transcripts, the Oregon State Medical Examiner found Liffel had 1.08 milligrams of meth per liter of blood in his system, an amount that would “definitely” be an “intoxicating level,” according to the transcripts.

The medical examiner’s report also found trace levels of oxycodone and cannabinoids in Liffel’s system.

The grand jury ruled Officer Lawrence Keller of the East Precinct was legally justified in using deadly force.

Keller testified when he responded to the scene, he took out his AR-15 rifle because Liffel had already fired several rounds.

As he and other officers and police supervisors were working to secure the area around the apartment complex, he heard a gunshot go off. Other officers determined the bullet hit something that was “close by,” but because it was dark they couldn’t see.

Keller testified he made the decision to shoot after he determined that Liffel was holding a rifle and was “actively hunting.” Keller determined Liffel was ready and capable of using the rifle to shoot at police.

“Waiting is not an option because an innocent person or police officer is going to get killed,” Keller testified. He also said his training is to “prevent” a shooter from being able to wound someone.

Keller described the threat to the public and police as “great…beyond the scale…off the scale.”

Liffel died from a single gunshot to the pelvis, according to the grand jury transcripts. He was 52.

The grand jury also learned that as of 2016, the bureau has been installing bullet-resistive panels in its patrol vehicles.