Portland State cops avoid charges in death of Navy vet trying to break up fight

The two Portland State University campus police officers who fatally shot a U.S. Navy veteran and father of three who was trying to break up a fight outside a bar in June won’t be indicted, a grand jury ruled Thursday.

Officers Shawn McKenzie and James Dewey were cleared of criminal charges in the shooting death of Jason Washington, 45, the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office said in a news release. 

Washington’s widow, Michelle, said that the family was disappointed the officers wouldn’t be charged.

"We want those responsible for the death of my husband to be held accountable,” she said in a statement obtained by the Oregonian. “We will always remember and love Jason and know he was needlessly killed while attempting to keep the peace."

"We want those responsible for the death of my husband to be held accountable. We will always remember and love Jason and know he was needlessly killed while attempting to keep the peace."

- Michelle Washington, Jason's widow

McKenzie and Dewey, who became sworn officers in 2016, were taken off paid administrative leave and assigned to desk duty following the ruling, the paper reported. Both will still carry firearms while not on patrol.

Washington's gun dropped when he intervened in a fight, which reportedly began over a racial slur, witnesses told Oregon Public Broadcasting in June. Officers were heard shouting, “Drop the gun!” several times, before firing their weapons.

Washington was a licensed gun owner with a concealed carry permit, OPB reported.

McKenzie, who has been with campus public safety since 2002, and Dewey, since 2014, were both wearing body cameras during the shooting, the Oregonian reported. The university told the paper the footage will be released at a later date.

PSU President Rahmat Shoureshi told OPB that the university, which passed the controversial ruling to allow some campus officers to carry guns in 2014, has hired two independent consultant firms. One will review campus safety’s policies and procedures, while the other reviews the shooting.

The school’s student union is expected to hold a rally Sept. 24, calling on the university to disallow campus police from carrying firearms, according to the Oregonian.

Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to this report.