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Regional Interests

Portland police officer shoots, injures man north of downtown

Officer Craig Lehman fires a 40mm less lethal impact munition during racial justice protests at the Penumbra Kelly building in East Portland.
Officer Craig Lehman fires a 40mm less lethal impact munition during racial justice protests at the Penumbra Kelly building in East Portland.

A Portland police officer shot and injured a man Tuesday night at a convenience store on Northwest Naito Parkway near the city’s Union Station.

According to police, officers were dispatched to the store for a “white male adult” who had taken food without paying and then laid on the floor, refusing to leave. Officers arrived at the McCormick Pier Grocery & Deli at 9:44 p.m. Eight minutes later, the bureau said Officer Craig Lehman, an eight year veteran of the bureau, shot Joshua Lyle Merritt, 32. Police said Merritt then moved further into the store, and officers weren’t able to reach him until 9:56 p.m.

By Wednesday afternoon, police had charged Merritt with unlawful use of a weapon and menacing.

The police bureau did not release details about why Lehman shot Merritt, but said Merritt was taken to the hospital before he was booked into the Multnomah County jail.

Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell, who went to the scene Tuesday night, said the bureau will conduct a thorough investigation, and that Lehman is on paid administrative leave.

Unlike many law enforcement agencies in the state that ask outside departments to conduct investigations into police shootings, Portland Police Bureau detectives investigate officer shootings themselves.

Lehman was a member of the now disbanded Rapid Response Team. He and Sgt. Justin Damerville were pulled from public-order policing duties in December after six alleged incidents in which the two allegedly violated a federal judge’s preliminary injunction by assaulting or threatening journalists and legal observers during last summer’s racial justice protests. Their suspension was first reported by Courthouse News.

The bureau pulled the two officers from duty pending an investigation to avoid violating a temporary restraining order barring officers from arresting, threatening to arrest or assaulting anyone who “they know or should reasonably know” was either a journalist or legal observer.

The Portland Police Bureau could not answer questions about the results of the investigation, but confirmed Lehman was still barred from public-order policing.

“In accordance with an agreement the City of Portland made related to pending litigation, Officer Lehman was not authorized to respond to public order events,” Police Bureau spokesperson Sgt. Kevin Allen said in an email. “He has not been deployed to any such events since December when the agreement was made.”

Merritt was the fourth person shot by a Portland police officer this year. Two of those shot died.

Correction: The Portland Police Bureau initially gave incorrect information about Officer Craig Lehman’s status at the time of the shooting. He was still barred from public order policing at the time he shot Joshua Merritt.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting