Here’s what we know about the violent, heartbreaking incident on SE Belmont

View looking west on SE Belmont across Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. People in green vests are standing near where Bentley was struck. (Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Violent and allegedly intentional actions led to the death of 49-year-old David “Dino” Bentley on Southeast Belmont in the Buckman neighborhood early Sunday morning. What initially seemed like the result of a dangerous street design mixed with the inherent risks of people who live in homes made out of fabric and thin wood pallets on the sidewalk, now seems to have been something much different.

I spent time at the scene Wednesday afternoon, I’ve reviewed the court documents, and have watched and read local news coverage to try and understand what happened, and why.

Here’s what I know so far…

The man who drove his car into Bentley, 22-year-old Shane McKeever, is currently being held on charges of Manslaughter in the First Degree and Reckless Driving. The probable cause affidavit filed at the Multnomah County Courthouse on Monday relays a harrowing tale that began with what one witness described as an argument. “The suspect [McKeever] walked into the camp and started to argue with everyone,” one man told a Portland Police officer who responded to the scene. “It seemed like the suspect was looking to cause issues.” There was also an allegation from someone in the adjacent encampment that McKeever “threatened to run over their camp.” Then McKeever allegedly got into his car and made good on those threats.

According to the court docs, which were based on witnesses both on the ground and one person who saw it from a window of his apartment at the Grand + Belmont building, McKeever first hit Bentley by driving (an allegedly stolen car) from SE Belmont (under the Morrison Bridge viaduct) across Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, then continued eastbound on Belmont. A different witness estimated McKeever’s speed at 40-50 mph. Bentley was sitting stationary on his bike, either in the bike lane or on the southern sidewalk of Belmont between MLK and Grand with his back toward the approaching driver. A video from KGW shows the impact left a large dent in the hood of the medium-sized Chevy Malibu sedan and smashed-in almost the entire windshield. The witness in the apartment building heard the loud impact and told police McKeever then turned around in a nearby driveway and drove back (westbound) on SE Belmont and “appeared to be intentionally trying to run people over in the camp.” It was at this point that witnesses heard 4-5 gunshots.

McKeever stopped the car about 10-feet east of MLK and tried flee on foot. He was eventually approached by witnesses and ultimately apprehended by police on SE Belmont a few blocks west of MLK.

David Bentley (victim)

Selfie by David Bentley posted to his Facebook page on December 23rd.

David Bentley, who went by “Dino” on the street, seemed to have a lot of friends. He had been living on the streets of Portland for years and KGW interviewed him during the heat wave last summer, when he told one of their reporters: “I don’t want to die out here. I don’t want to die just another homeless guy, just another number.” Mayor Ted Wheeler said in a statement that Bentley was well-known to local outreach workers, that the Mayor’s office was “sad to learn” of Bentley’s death and that the incident was a, “sobering testament of how dangerous living on the streets can be.”

I’ve spent some time trying to track down people who knew Bentley in hopes they can paint a fuller picture of him. So far I’ve only managed to find someone who calls Bentley a brother. The person posted a direct message on their Facebook page late Sunday night that she’d sent to McKeever. “My heart is so broken,” the message read. “Why did you hit my brother with your car?… Why did you run? How come you didn’t get out and try to help my brother? But rather try to run over my son too?”

Shane McKeever (suspect)

McKeever has had many run-ins with the law in his short life. According to his record, he’d been charged with five felonies and two misdemeanors (for theft) since 2021 — not including his current charges. Those charges include multiple counts of criminal mischief, assault, menacing, unlawful use of a weapon, and contempt of court for failing to appear. He’s been convicted of two separate domestic violence assaults.

Photos and messages shared by McKeever on what appears to be his Facebook page, paint the picture of a young man who embraced “the hustle,” liked to smoke, and celebrated handfuls of cash. He also shared that he didn’t receive a lot of guidance in life from people close to him and that he was homeless and lived in his car for at least seven months in 2021. That same year, McKeever wrote that he, “never had a father figure growing up to teach me how to take care of something like this,” and that he, “never had a family base.” He was also married and he and his wife had a daughter in 2020.

McKeever is scheduled to be arraigned on March 5th.

The Infrastructure

I’ve heard a lot of concern from the community about the design of this block of SE Belmont between MLK and Grand. I observed it from all angles yesterday and the concerns are valid. It’s also notable that the intersection of Belmont and MLK is circled in red and labeled as a “difficult intersection” in the official City of Portland bike map (see graphic at right).

(Source: PBOT bike map)

One reason it’s a high-stress area for bicycling and walking is that it’s a relatively narrow (about 15-feet wide) street striped with a bike lane that handles traffic between two very wide (about 50-feet), car-centric and busy urban arterials. Belmont is clearly a recommended bike route because it has sharrow markings from SE Water (near the river) and the buffered bike lane where Bentley was hit. The buffered bike lane was striped in late 2017 or 2018 and it helps Belmont connect to bike lanes further east. In the bike network, this section of Belmont is a couplet with westbound Morrison St. one block north.

The presence of viaducts overhead and the columns that support them adjacent to this little stretch of Belmont reduces visibility. The stressful, multi-lane arterials on either side also contribute to driving behaviors that don’t always keep safety of non-drivers in mind. That being said, the left-turns from MLK onto Belmont have such bad visibility and require such a tight radius, that I didn’t see a lot of speeding or dangerous driving around that movement. The curb at the Belmont/MLK corner bulbs-out a bit, which helps protect the bike lane by creating a shadow of protection. Being out there I realized it’s much easier for drivers to reach dangerous speeds when they come from Belmont west of MLK.

As you can see in the video below, drivers (or bike riders) who cross MLK Jr. Blvd from Belmont face four lanes of relatively speedy, one-way traffic.

Homelessness

This is as much a story about our continued struggle to house all Portlanders, as it is about a traffic crash.

While I was out there yesterday, a crew from Rapid Response Bio Clean, a company paid by the City of Portland to address homeless camps, drove up in one of their big box trucks. Workers got out and talked to the folks who live in the tarp-and-pallet shelters being used as homes by many people adjacent to where Bentley was killed. They were probably informing them that the camp will be “swept” this coming Monday, March 4th. An “Illegal Campsite” notice — posted to the same pole as a memorial roadsign erected by road safety activists earlier this week — went up on February 23rd.

Where will these folks go next? Will it be just as close to dangerous traffic? Will they move into shelters? Are there even enough places for them to find a bed? As long as people continue to live so close to deadly vehicular weapons, should we consider emergency road design changes to respond to the reality of these ticking time-bombs of traffic tragedy?

Conclusion

Given what we know so far, it feels like there isn’t one clear thing that bears responsibility for the events that unfolded early Sunday morning. It was a violent act carried out by a repeat offender who never got the help he needed, in a city where far too many people live precariously close to large deadly weapons on four wheels that can careen into them at any time — whether their drivers intend to or not — and far too often with heartbreaking consequences.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

Thanks for reading.

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PS
PS
4 months ago

There may not be a place more prone to the policies and ideologies of misplaced compassion than here. In this environment of incarceration is inhumane, sweeps are inhumane, the justice system isn’t just, drugs are fine, the nuclear family is antiquated, and broken windows policing doesn’t work we shouldn’t be particularly surprised this is the outcome for two guys navigating the fringes.

The nonchalance used on the suspect’s facebook page regarding being paroled twice in the last half of last year at the age of 22 is a glimpse into a mentality that is hard to believe exists. The victim living on the streets in Portland for years, while hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent trying to not have that be the case, is evidence of the current futility of the exercise. The exasperation that this could happen, from advocates of all the ingredients necessary to guarantee it would, is maddening.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
4 months ago
Reply to  PS

It begs the question of whether we should be trying at all if the end result is futility.

Steven
Steven
4 months ago
Reply to  PS

Incarceration is inhumane. Sweeps are inhumane. The justice system isn’t just. Broken windows policing doesn’t work. None of these things are disproven by one tragic incident.

Nor have hundreds of millions of dollars been spent to get _one_ person off the streets. This comment is sadly typical of a type of conservative moral panic around any government spending at all, pointing to the hardest of the hard cases to deny any possibility of collective solutions to social problems.

The answer is to fund what is proven to reduce homelessness, namely permanent supportive housing—not shelters, police, or criminalization—and to build more homes in general to solve the housing crisis affecting all of us.

BB
BB
4 months ago
Reply to  Steven

Multnomah county has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and there is nothing to show for it…
How much are you personally kicking in to buy someone a house?

John
John
4 months ago
Reply to  BB

Let me help clarify:

The answer is to fund what is proven to reduce homelessness, namely permanent supportive housing—not shelters, police, or criminalization—and to build more homes in general to solve the housing crisis affecting all of us.

Multnomah county has spent money on “something”, but not these things. Spending ever greater sums of money on things that are known to not work isn’t going to make them start working.

BB
BB
4 months ago
Reply to  John

Clarify what?
You further the point that no amount of money in the hands of the current crop of officials is going to do anything.
They just need to spend money better is laughable.

John V
John V
4 months ago
Reply to  BB

The corollary to your argument is that it doesn’t matter what the money is spent on. If money is spent and doesn’t make the desired change, that proves money wasn’t needed. Seems laughable. Of course it matters what the money gets spent on, and they’re doing it poorly.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  John V

I read it more as a statement that the chances of our current leadership stumbling on a working formulation were close to nil.

Steven
Steven
4 months ago
Reply to  Steven

*Incarceration is _inhumane_

PS
PS
4 months ago
Reply to  Steven

At the risk of perpetuating everyone’s fatigue with the idea this is still a debate. We’ll let the future be the arbiter of whether this was conservative moral panic or an ill fated attempt at liberal moral supremacy. As always, I am sure with just enough of other people’s money, you and yours could fix everything.

Steven
Steven
4 months ago
Reply to  PS

Ah, the old “other people’s money” canard. How do you think we pay for police and jails exactly?

PS
PS
4 months ago
Reply to  Steven

With other people’s money of course, but it seems pretty wild to compare the ROI on dollars spent on police, jails and the justice system and argue that they are equal with the dollars spent on permanent supportive housing. The ROI on jails, police and the courts is likely close to infinite seeing how it is the foundation for almost all human interaction in our society. The ROI on permanent supportive housing is probably negative.

Steven
Steven
4 months ago
Reply to  PS

The US has among the highest spending on police in the developed world at 2% of GDP—and has the most people in prison—yet still has one of the highest crime rates among developed nations. That ROI doesn’t seem so great suddenly.

Have you taken a look at human interaction in our society lately?

Finland has largely eliminated homelessness using a Housing First approach. Housing First has also been shown to reduce costs associated with law enforcement and emergency room visits. Seems pretty solid to me!

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Steven

Hi Steven,

I have a question. I’m not a homelessness expert at all, although I did look into the Housing First approach before the last election so that I could cast a somewhat informed vote.

My impression is that Housing First is successful when used early. If Portland had begun a “Housing First” program in 2004, ’05, it might have worked.

Isn’t it possible that the success of an intervention depends on the extent and duration of the problem?

Pick a metaphor–marriage, disease–a problem that is caught early is more easily treatable than a problem which has been neglected for years.

My impression from the last election, and the years previous to it, is that the Housing First advocates have been inflexible. Why such an either/or, can’t you have shelters while waiting for housing to be built?

Steven
Steven
4 months ago

I’m not opposed on principle to homeless shelters, what I’m saying is that they don’t actually solve homelessness. Given limited funds, it makes sense to spend those dollars on proven long-term solutions rather than putting a Band-Aid on the problem. As for whether Housing First works for established homelessness populations, here’s what the New York City comptroller says:

“Out of 2,308 homeless New Yorkers removed by sweeps in 2022, only 43 individuals (2%) remained in shelter as of January 2023 and only 3 were connected to permanent housing. By contrast, between 70-90% of Housing First participants remain stably housed two to three years after receiving services. Housing First is more cost-effective than shelter, and far more than jail or hospital beds.”

And according to HUD:

“Several studies have found that, compared with the treatment first model, Housing First approaches offer greater long-term housing stability, especially among people experiencing chronic homelessness.”

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Steven

Thank you for responding, Steven. Social science studies have the problem that you can’t, for a lot of reasons including cost and practicality, set up experiments to test hypotheses. The NYC statistics in your second paragraph don’t really answer my question, which is more about whether Housing First is the best initial response to a situation that has gotten as out-of-control as Portland’s. NYC and the European city’s I’ve visited never reached a bottom that looked like our’s. For years, decades, Portland hasn’t gotten people who need it into housing, and now we’ve got a whale of a problem.

Steven
Steven
4 months ago

The social scientists at the PSU/OHSU Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative might take issue with you there. I personally think public policy should be based on carefully weighing the best available empirical evidence. Of course, if you believe a given problem is impossible to study, that option goes out the window, leaving only subjective opinions based on how “out of control” things look. That might be convenient for those with a particular axe to grind, but not great for society.

New York City has a large municipal shelter system, meaning the unhoused population is out of sight to a certain extent (without actually reducing homelessness). There are still thousands of people living unsheltered on the streets of NYC. As for advocates being “inflexible”, can you name an instance of when a group of marginalized people got those in power to give them what they wanted by being flexible and accommodating?

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Steven

The best social science research I’ve come across is done with “natural experiments,” real world situations which lend themselves to comparisons between the outcomes of different policies. For example, in the US, sometimes policy implementation rolls out at different times between states. The lag allows for statistical comparison of outcomes. In Europe, a very good study of the effect of increased bicycle infrastructure on mode share during covid took advantage of the natural experiment which arose when different cities pursued different infrastructure programs.

I agree with you about following the best available empirical evidence. But comparing success rates between housing first or treatment first programs in NYC doesn’t answer the question of what Portland should do in the situation it is in, which is not the situation NYC has ever been in.

As far as me calling anyone “inflexible,” I was referring to the political candidates in the last round of elections, where “housing first” and “build shelters” became political shorthand and signaling.

For the record, I’m all for public housing, dense, high, public housing.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Steven

Homeless shelters don’t actually solve homelessness. 

They do not, and I agree that, to a certain extent, they are a bandaid. But given where we are, we need to apply some first aid to the crisis in addition to working towards fixing the underlying condition.

People need to be off the street today, not in 5-10 years. Shelter is a stopgap that can help in the short term, even if it is not a long term or permanent solution.

alex
alex
4 months ago

What has the city/metro been doing around homelessness since the state of emergency was declared by Kotek?

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
4 months ago
Reply to  alex

What has the City been doing when the City Council and Mayor declared a Housing Emergency back in 2015???

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

That declaration, when Hales was mayor, really accelerated street camping. You’ll recall that Hales basically invited people to camp on the streets, and we’ve really never looked back.

John
John
4 months ago
Reply to  alex

I think their big initiative right now is loosening up restrictions on the urban growth boundary to allow for market based solutions and “middle income” housing way out on the edge of town.

So, nothing.

Well, in fairness, that’s also the state (not city/metro). But basically nothing. Solutions are staring us in the face but people would rather not solve this problem because it brings a lot of deeply held beliefs into question.

JP
JP
4 months ago

The suspect was previously charged with five felonies and two misdemeanors. Why wasn’t he in jail?

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
4 months ago

“According to his record, he’d been charged with five felonies and two misdemeanors (for theft) since 2021 — not including his current charges. Those charges include multiple counts of criminal mischief, assault, menacing, unlawful use of a weapon, and contempt of court for failing to appear. He’s been convicted of two separate domestic violence assaults.“

Seriously though, why was this guy not in prison??! What do you have to do to be locked up these days?

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

Dismantle the carceral state!

Agave Desayuno
Agave Desayuno
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I appreciate the sarcasm. Funny how the people arguing for this kind of thing seem to be completely incapable of acknowledging the cognitive dissonance of begging for jail abolition in one breath while wishing for mob violence against drivers in the next.

Cool future. Sure bodes well for us all.

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  Agave Desayuno

I’m with you. I keep thinking whether the kind of “dispute resolution” JM described is what people who want to “defund the police” have in mind.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
4 months ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

Maybe because the current DA would rather be a social justice warrior than prosecute criminals.

John
John
4 months ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

Last I heard, the problem is lack of public defenders, so the system has ground to a halt. I don’t know if that’s still an issue, but I don’t know what else would.

Doug Hecker
Doug Hecker
4 months ago

Hi Jonathan,

I appreciate how you put this article together and listed out the issues. I feel sad for all of the parties involved. Dino should’ve been housed years ago. Nobody deserves to sleep outside. Shane needed help long ago it seems and probably could’ve gotten it while he was serving time for the 5 prior felonies. We truly do a disservice by letting folks back out who don’t have the support they need to be a positive member of society. As for the infrastructure, it feels like a slip lane. PBOT probably needs to block it off like they have with many other slips… and other yet to be cut off. Houselessness is a difficult situation that we eventually need to get people out of random camps where they are safe from the abuse that they experience like this. Nobody deserves to be attacked, honked at, or harassed for where they sleep. We really need to get on the state, county, and city for wasting critical funds that have been designated for housing.
https://www.opb.org/article/2023/09/20/oregon-governor-kotek-retracts-some-funds-multnomah-county-homelessness-housing/
https://www.wweek.com/news/2022/05/18/while-home-forwards-emergency-housing-vouchers-go-largely-unused-the-agency-gets-cash-bailout-for-tenants-with-unpaid-rent/

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  Doug Hecker

Nobody deserves anything, yet there we are. We need to deal with problems as they are, not as we wish they would be.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Thank you for saying that. That basically sums up every post I’ve ever made on BikePortland.

Doug Hecker
Doug Hecker
4 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Yet here we are with unspent funds that should be doing something for the people and parties involved. Yet, they aren’t. We are more than good intentions Fred. We actually have the $$$. But sadly much of those goes unspent.

https://www.wweek.com/news/2024/02/28/new-figures-show-multnomah-county-still-isnt-using-the-homeless-services-tax-money-metro-covets/

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  Doug Hecker

I agree but I just have a lot less patience with good intentions than you do.

As the old saying goes: The road to Portland is paved with good intentions.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
4 months ago
Reply to  Doug Hecker
Doug Hecker
Doug Hecker
4 months ago

How you fixing service compliance? 6 months in jail?

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
4 months ago
Reply to  Doug Hecker

That’s one option. Having all carrot and no stick doesn’t seem to work.

SD
SD
4 months ago

Our transportation system should be safe enough that people living outdoors are not killed by cars.

I realize that this specific event is more complicated. However, consider if the car driven in this area had geofenced speed governors set to 20 or 25 mph. Or, if appropriate-sized micro mobility was the primary mode of urban transportation and McKeever tried to pull this off with a stolen golf cart.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  SD

Our transportation system should be safe enough that people living outdoors are not killed by cars.

Our shelter system should be good enough that people aren’t living outdoors.

Agave Desayuno
Agave Desayuno
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

When sweeps happen shelters are offered. The vast majority of those contacted decline. We make it far too easy for people to continue living in unsafe spaces. It’s Called enablement and it kills.

N.F.
N.F.
4 months ago
Reply to  Agave Desayuno

People are attacked in shelters; their belongings are stolen; many have sobriety requirements and don’t allow for partners or pets. Shelters are not a universal answer–especially when many are operated by people with a religious agenda.

J M
J M
4 months ago
Reply to  N.F.

Yeaj, typically if someone is going to house you for free, they don’t want you to be using fentanyl.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
4 months ago
Reply to  N.F.

Sounds more like a resident issue.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  N.F.

People are attacked in shelters

No one should be attacked or stolen from in a shelter. Period. To the extent that’s happening, that’s an abject failure by the shelter provider to provide one of the most basic requirements of shelter: security.

If you can’t offer that, please find another way to spend your grant money and stop putting the people in your care at risk.

While emergency shelter needs to be secure, it does not need to be a place you can get high. It’s not supposed to be a universal housing solution, it’s supposed to be an emergency fallback for when everything else has failed and your only alternative is sleeping on the streets (where people are frequently attacked and stolen from).

SD
SD
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Both of these things are true.

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  SD

I disagree. I think that if a person really wants to be sheltered, he will be sheltered. The vast majority of people living outdoors are there essentially b/c they want to be, under our current system.

I’m not saying I like it or that it’s right, but that’s the current reality.

SD
SD
4 months ago
Reply to  Fred

My comment was referring to the need for both safe transportation and improved access to shelter/ housing. These are not mutually exclusive and it is weird to juxtapose them. It is easy for people to look at tents and homeless people and imagine them gone, it is much more difficult to imagine a transportation system that is not harsh or deadly, which is why it is worth discussing. It is also weird that anything other than the simplistic demand that homelessness disappear from sight is interpreted as a diabolical plot to keep people homeless.

Steven
Steven
4 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Have you personally spoken to the vast majority of people living outdoors? There’s nowhere near enough shelter capacity for the number of unhoused people in Multnomah County.

Every 10% increase in rent is associated with a 13.6% increase in homelessness. I guess people who want to be homeless are just attracted to areas with high rents for some reason. What an odd coincidence!

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  Steven

There’s currently a job for everyone who wants a job, meaning people could certainly afford some kind of shelter if they could work. There are many rental-support programs.

Most of the homeless people I’ve spoken with seem basically unemployable in their current state.

Steven
Steven
4 months ago
Reply to  Fred

> “There’s currently a job for everyone who wants a job”
> “Most of the homeless people I’ve spoken with seem basically unemployable”

Pick one.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Steven

Pick one.

Both could be true.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
4 months ago
Reply to  Steven

Well, when the focus of the county is to build apartments and houses and not provide transitional shelters it is at fault. The county could have built more than enough shelters for all the houseless and then some with the huge amount of money they have had access to over recent years.
People could have had a bed, a meal, and a secure place to spend a night, but no, not in Multnomah County.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
4 months ago
Reply to  SD

You really want that level of government control on things?

SD
SD
4 months ago

The government already has that level of control and is leveraged to prop up a failed transportation system.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
4 months ago

I help run a community bike shop here in Greensboro NC. We give away 400 donated used bicycles annually. About a quarter go to homeless residents, another quarter to low-income mostly black youth, another 20% to refugee adults who just got here from wars in Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Congo, and Ukraine, and the remaining 30% go to their kids.

As a defensive mechanism to retain our “middle-class” volunteer pool, we try our best to give bikes to social service providers rather than directly to the recipients themselves – meeting some of these people can be a bit traumatic for everyone involved including the recipients – there’s frequent language barriers, economic disconnects, and so on. It gets really embarrassing when a good-natured volunteer speaks imperfect Spanish to an Arab – very awkward on so many levels – that our social service providers have to spend hours undoing such a mess.

Basically, we in the nonprofit industrial complex try not to get into the nitty-gritty because we are, ourselves, not fully prepared to deal with it psychologically – we have enough issues just dealing with our own volunteers and their social issues and conflicts (divorce, relationships, aging, ADHD, autism, alcoholism, Gaza, addictions, debt, elections) that we cannot handle those of our ultimate clients without going crazy or getting majorly depressed about it all.

But once you have learned the nitty-gritty, such as in this story, it’s effing hard to unlearn it, so you put up more psychological barriers and move on.

mark
mark
4 months ago

Why is he charged with manslaughter and not murder?

J M
J M
4 months ago
Reply to  mark

They would have to prove intent, not “acting in the moment”

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  J M

This is a really interesting question b/c it would seem as though running someone over with a car is a situation where it’s almost impossible to prove intent on the part of the driver, though in this case the driver made threats before running the guy over so maybe it would be easier to prove intent here.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Based on what I know, there was clearly intent in the sense that the killing was not accidental, but not in the sense that it was pre-planned, giving the driver time to mull things over and decide that murder was the best option.

Even if it was pre-planned, the prosecutor may not be able to prove it, so might charge manslaughter instead to avoid that burden.

mark
mark
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Okay, so vehicular homicide then? Manslaughter just seems like a weak charge. Clearly l’m not a lawyer.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  mark

Here’s a pretty succinct breakdown of how the various crimes are defined in relation to driving:

https://www.markgeigerlaw.com/manslaughter-and-vehicular-homicide-in-oregon-what-to-know

Agave Desayuno
Agave Desayuno
4 months ago

Sweeps save lives.

Allowing people to live in inherently dangerous places, places never designed for occupation by humans, is what kills. Twisting the argument with semantics and “what ifs” has so far only resulted in the deaths of more and more homeless. I have become highly skeptical that anyone demanding to preserve the status quo actually cares about the fate of the homeless. To me, it feels like the bike activists are using them as pawns. And I think it’s gross.

Doubt this comment will get published, but hey, echo chambers gonna echo.

SD
SD
4 months ago
Reply to  Agave Desayuno

Where do you think people are swept to?
I have not seen a single comment that demands preserving the status quo.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
4 months ago
Reply to  SD

But it’s the status quo that is the default answer as long as we as a society continue to do nothing. Most readers of this blog will do just that – read but do absolutely nothing – we’ll all be indignant, demonstrate revulsion, condemn the innocent and guilty alike – but basically sit at home and do nothing. I personally have an outlet – I can and I will passively help certain people I know help our local homeless – but not only does that do nothing for the homeless in Portland, but it brings up more complicated questions: Am I simply enabling others to live a certain nomadic lifestyle? Am I doing this so I can feel good about doing nearly nothing about the core causes, a bit like alms-giving was for our medieval European forebears? Am I, as Agave rightly accuses, using our local homeless as pawns to get better bike facilities?

As much as all of our communities need more housing units, we also need a greater variety of housing types – luxury, middle-class, SROs, townhomes, apartments, flats, motels, slums, BnBs, well-maintained municipal campsites, and so on – and plenty of it, being constantly built, rebuilt, and demolished. I can understand the several Canadian cities wanting to ban Air BnB’s, but without more building and accommodation, it’s still a losing proposition without new construction.

We also need to be more accepting and tolerant of each other and that not everyone has the same prospects in life. I’m sorry for the victim, but I’m also sorry for the perpetrator too, particularly as his daughter will now have her dad live in prison for quite some time, carrying on a horrifying family tradition that’s pretty bad for all of us.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

particularly his daughter

When I was in middle school, a local high school kid stabbed a classmate to death in a stupid drunken argument about nothing at all. Utterly senseless.

My mother reached out to the killer’s mother and helped her carry that burden. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I do now, and it seems you do as well.

Steven
Steven
4 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Would his daughter be better off living with someone who has been convicted twice for domestic violence? Speaking of horrifying family traditions…

Fred
Fred
4 months ago
Reply to  SD

I’ve seen lots of people at public meetings holding up signs saying “Sweeps kill.” And I’ve read lots of comments here that are sympathetic to that notion.

I agree with Agave. Not only do sweeps save lives – getting arrested saves lives. It’s often the only way people get into drug treatment.

Steven
Steven
4 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Tell that to Terrence Tombe, killed by a reckless driver on I-205 after being displaced from an undoubtedly a safer area during a city-sanctioned camp sweep.

Jeff Rockshoxworthy
Jeff Rockshoxworthy
4 months ago
Reply to  Steven

Why was this individual walking on I-205?

Nothing about being swept demands that a person go walking on an interstate highway.

Steven
Steven
4 months ago

They weren’t.

SD
SD
4 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Sweeps basically take people’s stuff and clean away everything else that is there. That’s it. How does that “save lives?” I am not arguing for or against sweeps (much larger conversation), but they are definitely not a solution to homelessness.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  SD

Sweeps are definitely not a solution to homelessness.

The purpose of a sweep is to end camping in a particular location, and in itself does nothing to resolve homelessness.

However, when sites are swept, people are offered a bed in a shelter, and that can be a gateway to getting into the system that is supposed to help people get back in to housing.

You’ll have to direct questions about why our shelter system and support services are so crappy to Vega Pederson and Kotek; they have the mandate, stated desire, and plenty of money to address the problem, but can’t seem to get their act together.

SD
SD
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

“The purpose of a sweep is to end camping in a particular location.” That’s all that it is.

Sweeping doesn’t move people into shelters. People could be made the same offer without sweeps. Again, I am not getting into whether or not sweeps have a place, But, people lying to themselves about sweeps “saving lives” or increasing shelter use in a meaningful way is just a delusional urban myth to make people feel better about an inherently flawed process.

I can’t believe that we are 10 plus years into this and people are still so clueless about homelessness. There is so much misinformation and exploitation of this tragic situation, I wish there were up to date fact-based videos that Portlanders could watch and at least establish a few basic agreed upon facts.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  SD

“People could be made the same offer without sweeps.”

They often are, and those that accept the offer aren’t swept. Those that move when notified that a place is off limits to camping aren’t swept. Those that are swept are those who will not accept shelter and will not refrain from camping in areas where it is not allowed.

I don’t know if sweeps save lives in the general case (that’s not a claim I have an opinion on), but they may well do so when they relocate people out of dangerous sites, or when they get people into the system.

People have to sleep somewhere. People cannot camp anywhere they want. People need security. Sleeping on the street is dangerous. Oregonians (and especially Portlanders) are giving a lot of money to our leaders to resolve the situation, and these resources are not being well used. A lot of people on the street need mental health and drug addiction services, and are probably not able to manage living in an apartment, but some just need a hand up to overcome a temporary setback and will be fine once they’re back on their feet.

I think these are some basic facts we can all agree on.

SD
SD
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Yes, they are not swept because they are not there to be swept.
Some sweeps may have beneficial effects, some may cause harm, some may do both to different people being swept. I am certain there are examples of all of these things. The things that sweeps always do is temporarily increase instability and disruption in the lives of people swept and relieve the stress of businesses or residents near the camps. In practice, they are often done indiscriminately without weighing the impact on the swept. We agree that sweeps in and of themselves do not “save lives” and anything that is life saving in these instances can be done independent of sweeps.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  SD

They are not swept because they are not there to be swept.

Precisely. Sweeping is a last-ditch measure for those who will not leave a spot when asked, and will not accept help when offered. No one has the right to set up a tent wherever they want, or to stay after being given a legal order to leave.

Steven
Steven
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The only people “giving a lot of money” (actually a 1% income tax) are individuals with income above $125,000 or couples with income above $200,000, and businesses with gross receipts above $5 million. Frankly, they can afford it, and should probably be taxed more.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Steven

Multnomah County is sitting on a giant pile of cash to deal with homelessness and is not spending it. The state has a huge pile of cash to spend on drug treatment, and is not spending it.

Failures at the state and county level, which are legion, are not for lack of funds. Why would you give them yet more? (Unless you think of taxing others as a good in its own right, even if the money is not needed.)

Instead of “tax the rich”, let’s get some competent folks in office who can figure out how to address the problems with the excess of money they already have.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
4 months ago
Reply to  Steven

So, people that earn a good salary automatically can afford all the taxes forced upon them? Must be the “evil rich” in your eyes.
You, obviously, are a paragon of virtue and should be able to have a free ride through life.

EV enthusiast
EV enthusiast
4 months ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

They aren’t “evil”. (A term associated with violent religious fundamentalism.)

Hoarding money/resources (e.g. being rich) when people lack housing, nutrition, medical care, educational opportunity etc. is IMMORAL.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  EV enthusiast

Hoarding money/resources (e.g. being rich) when people lack housing, nutrition, medical care, educational opportunity etc. is IMMORAL.

From a global perspective, everyone reading this is rich; Allowing people whose only sin is being distant starve and die of easily preventable disease just so you can enjoy your morning coffee or hoard another $100 in your IRA is equally immoral.

Steven
Steven
4 months ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

If the rich can’t afford to pay their taxes, maybe they should cut down on avocado toast brunches.

A Grant
A Grant
4 months ago
Reply to  Agave Desayuno

Labelling a public downtown street “inherently dangerous” and “never designed for occupation by humans” ought to be considered a failure of public policy and victim blaming of the worst sort.

Meanwhile the existence of a sidewalk and bike lane implies that the city expects pedestrians and cyclist to “occupy” this “inherently dangerous” space as well.

Charley
Charley
4 months ago
Reply to  A Grant

That’s completely apples and oranges.

I don’t know if you’ve ever done any construction work, but try looking at the International Residential Code book sometime. It has incredibly specific prescriptive instructions about how a structure must be built, in order for it to be habitable. Just riding around town, I see code violations on the exteriors of buildings all the time.

Some of these violations create a situation in which a building’s materials will rot prematurely (improper flashing, for instance). Other violations look quite innocuous, but could easily kill someone (improper handrails can catch on a garment or handbag and trip someone at the top of a staircase).

The fact that jurisdictions apply these kinds of serious regulations on residential buildings should very quickly indicate to you why a sidewalk in between two arterial streets should not qualify as an appropriate living space for people.

Residential buildings, for instance, require a roof, insulation, and electricity. Code even regulates the number and size of windows in every bedroom. These would be absurd standards to apply to a street.

I don’t mean to imply that the street design of this single block is somehow optimal for safe travel. But optimizing for safe travel and safe habitation are completely different, and it’s only rhetoric that allows one to confuse the two.

qqq
qqq
4 months ago
Reply to  Charley

Yes, in fact the residential requirements are so strict that they don’t allow people to live in buildings that are completely current-code compliant for other uses, like offices.

It’s ironic and sad that there are people living outside on sidewalks in front of tens of thousands of square feet of perfectly habitable space that was acceptable for uses like law firms. But it’s not legal to allow people to live in it without expensive code upgrades.

Charley
Charley
4 months ago
Reply to  qqq

qqq-
Don’t get me started on the lack of system-wide cost-benefit analysis that has made it near impossible to house people who desperately need it!

Sure, it would be ideal if every homeless person were given the keys to a two bedroom house in a leafy neighborhood, but is an SRO really so bad that living on the street is preferable???

Fred
Fred
4 months ago

This is excellent reporting – really gets into the details of the “locus in quo” and the incident itself.

I’m glad to hear the camp will be swept from the site. After it is swept, construction needs to begin on barriers to keep people from camping there again. That’s not a safe place to camp – notwithstanding the malign actor who apparently murdered the man in the bike lane.

Also that bike lane doesn’t look safe – sandwiched into that narrow ramp. Maybe that ramp needs to be closed to cars?

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
4 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Turn it into a rain pond that collects runoff.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
4 months ago
Steven
Steven
4 months ago

That article uses the term “temporary alternative shelter site”. That isn’t the same as housing.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Steven

You’re right — it is not housing, but a fairly nice shelter where people can stay indefinitely in private lockable units, while getting help to move on into an apartment or program.

One of the comments (now silently deleted by the mods) referred to the site using a particularly inflammatory term. I can only assume that the person posting that has never actually visited the site, has never talked to anyone who has stayed there, and knows nothing about how it operates.

If the alternative were urban camping, I’d stay there in a heartbeat.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Watts

Hi Watts, I didn’t delete that comment, my guess JM didn’t either. Probably the not too subtle filter flags those two words together as correlating with inflammatory comment threads and auto-deletes.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
4 months ago
Reply to  Steven

It’s a first step, though. But it was up to Dino to take it and it appears he chose not to.

Ste andven
Ste andven
4 months ago

And if he had—then what? There would still be people living on the streets, with all of the risks that entails, since there currently isn’t enough housing for the people who need it. Not really seeing your point unless your intention is to blame the victim.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
4 months ago

Also just wanted to say that this was a really well-written, well-structured article.

MarkM
MarkM
4 months ago

Jonathan, as always, I appreciate your in-depth reporting on this story. I’m glad I renewed my BP subscription. I think our other local news outlets and journalists should take note.

I do photowalks in the Central Eastside Industrial District (CEID) on a regular basis. I also participate in SOLVE cleanups on a regular basis. Two of SOLVE’s ‘Urgent Need’ (think former encampments) cleanups I participated in were in the area where this tragedy occurred.

What I’ve seen in the CEID over the past few years, as well as many other areas in the metro region, prompted me to get on my soapbox and call out the failed leadership in Multnomah County several months ago. This is an excerpt from my post: “Although most of the photos from my walks have shown the positive aspects of Multnomah County, by design, I know that everything is, in fact, not fine. If you walk from the Multnomah Building (above) through the Central Eastside Industrial District in any direction, you’ll see this firsthand.”

Given that the encampment where this tragedy occurred is within sight of the Multnomah Building, I stand by what I said months ago. This could have been avoided.

Jack C.
Jack C.
4 months ago

McKeever was into George Floyd’s general culture, if the irony of that hits anyone.

Many of the homeless are hardly saints, either. The way people die tends to reflect the way they live. Let’s focus on getting criminals off the streets, not pseudo-justice that just lets them get away with evil.

qqq
qqq
4 months ago
Reply to  Jack C.

The way people die tends to reflect the way they live.

It’s notable that traffic deaths are such an exception to that.

You can almost certainly avoid some types of death by choices you make, but while you can reduce your chances of being a traffic victim (by not driving drunk, not street racing, etc.) nobody is insulated, if they live in any typical way.

Stephen Scarich
Stephen Scarich
4 months ago

This is neither a story about homelessness, nor about a car crash…it is almost 100% a story about a totally failed criminal justice system. This guy should have been in State Prison years ago; Bentley would still be alive.