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Police (finally) issue statement on Barbur hit-and-run case – UPDATED

Police are looking for a Subaru like this one.
(Photo: PPB)

The Portland Police Bureau just released a media statement about a serious injury hit-and-run that occurred on Friday, August 16th on SW Barbur Blvd. The collision left 20-year old Henry Schmidt with multiple injuries including shattered bones, damaged organs, and extensive road rash. Since first reported by KATU-TV, the PPB has come under fire from friends of the victim and other people in the community for their handling of the crime scene and a lack of urgency around their investigation.

Dave Cassidy, a close friend of the Schmidt family, has been sending emails to local media describing his concerns about the PPB’s lack of attention to Schmidt’s case. Here’s an excerpt from an email Cassidy sent to local media outlets yesterday:

“The accident occurred early Friday morning. Two bus passengers Aaron Oosterhart and Jordan Sweet have been identified by the media, however there was a third unidentified individual from the bus who apparently picked up, and attempted to give to the Portland Police on scene, “car parts”. The responding officers involved refused to take this evidence, and it is unknown what has become of it. Later that same morning when Henry’s father contacted Portland police for details he was told that “Henry would need to file a report”. The police became only marginally interested after the media broke this story. Still it was over 60 hours later before they sent an officer to “take a statement” from Henry in the OHSU ICU. At that time Henry’s mother informed them that she had clothing that was torn off of Henry as well as his shredded backpack, but again the police declined to take this evidence in to custody. Other forensic evidence such as glass shards, some of which was removed from Henry’s face and mouth by physicians at OHSU, was not saved as there was no request by the police to do so.”

A reporter from KATU found evidence at the scene three days later and told the PPB about it. According to KATU’s reporting, PPB spokesman Pete Simpson told the reporter, “[the evidence] should have been collected at the time of the incident.”

“I’m not going to sugar coat it. The initial response to this incident and the resulting police report was incomplete.”
— Sgt. Todd Davis, Portland Police Bureau

We followed up with the PPB Traffic Division’s hit-and-run specialist Sergeant Todd Davis to ask him why the crime scene was not scoured for evidence immediately and why police waited until Monday to begin the investigation. “You can print this if you want and I’m not going to sugar coat it,” responded Sgt. Davis, “The initial response to this incident and the resulting police report was incomplete.” (UPDATE: See more from Sgt. Davis in the update at the end of this story.)

Sgt. Davis said he spent most of the day Monday, “addressing those issues and getting them corrected,” so the can police could move forward with their investigation. This morning, Sgt. Davis told us that he has pulled all his traffic investigators off other cases to work the Schmidt case, “In order to get us where we need to be on it.”

Just a few minutes ago, the PPB finally released a media and law enforcement bulletin saying they are looking for a black 2011 to 2012 Subaru Legacy 25i sedan with damage to the right-front headlight assembly, a missing passenger-side mirror and corresponding damage under the front bumper. Unfortunately at this point, they have no video and no witnesses have come forward (and Schmidt says he doesn’t remember anything).

If you have any information about this collision, you can leave a tip online via Crime Stoppers or call 823-HELP. There’s a $1,000 reward for tips that lead to an arrest.

Meanwhile, a ride to visit Henry in the hospital is planned for this evening. It meets at 6:00 pm at ODOT Region 1 headquarters (123 NW Flanders).

UPDATE, 1:54 pm: We’ve heard more details from Sgt. Davis as to why this case wasn’t handled correctly from the outset. Davis tells us there was “some disconnect” between the Central Precinct officers who responded to the initial call and the Traffic Division officers who were on duty but were unable to respond immediately. “I think the seriousness of Henry’s injuries were initially understated by medical personnel,” Sgt. Davis says, “so the officers at the scene did not realize the full scope of what they were dealing with until they had cleared the scene and arrived at the hospital.”

Because there was a misunderstanding about the extent of injuries, the sergeant in charge of the PPB’s Major Crash Team didn’t get notified to send out his team to the scene. “There was a delay in getting the initial reports to the Traffic Division and a further delay due to the incompleteness of those reports.”

Sgt. Davis says the PPB will conduct an internal review to, “find out what happened and where the ball got dropped”.

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