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Kendra James was a 21-year-old African American Oregon woman who was shot to death by police on May 5, 2003. The incident sparked a controversy over the use of deadly force by the Portland Police Bureau in Portland, Oregon.
James was a passenger in a car that was stopped by Portland police officers Rick Bean, Kenneth Reynolds and Scott McCollister. After the driver and another passenger in the car were removed peaceably by the officers, James jumped from the back seat into the driver's seat and allegedly attempted to flee the scene. McCollister claimed that he tried to pull the 115-pound James out of the car, but was unable. McCollister also claimed that he attempted to use pepper spray to subdue James, but was unable to operate the canister. McCollister claimed he felt the car move, and was concerned that he could have fallen and been run over. McCollister drew his handgun and fired a single shot. Incidentally, Reynolds also attempted to use a Taser on James somewhere in the progression of events, but it was unclear whether the device delivered an electrical shock to James. After the shooting, the officers handcuffed James and left her bleeding on the street without administering medical attention. Officers claimed they did not know James had been shot, and/or that they believed James was "faking" being unconscious. James died four hours later.
The death of Kendra James, one of a series of high-profile shootings by Portland police, led to a controversy that raged for several months. Many community groups claimed that McCollister was not justified in using deadly force, and there were numerous calls for his prosecution. The James family's lawyers questioned whether evidence existed regarding James attempting to move the car, and whether the tactics McCollister used, especially his attempt to enter the car (McCollister claimed that he was 80% in the car) were consistent with police training. Powder residue testing indicated that McCollister's handgun was at least 30 to 48 inches away from James when discharged, a fact which lawyers for James' family claimed was inconsistent with McCollister's version of events. McCollister was cleared by a federal grand jury, but was disciplined by the bureau for exercising poor judgment. There were also accusations that James had been a victim of racial profiling, a charge the bureau denied.
In 2005, the bureau announced changes in the guidelines for police use of deadly force, including a prohibition against shooting at a moving vehicle, that were intended to prevent a repeat of the Kendra James shooting. In 2005 a civil suit against McCollister seeking $10 million in damages went to trial. On June 29, 2005, the jury ruled in favor of McCollister, ending the civil case.