The 36-year-old Black man shot and killed by a Portland police officer on Sunday suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was legally blind, according to relatives.
Authorities identified the man as Andre Catrel Gladen, a California native who was staying with family in Oregon before he died. Relatives told OregonLive that Gladen struggled with mental illness and was in and out of hospitals for several years.
His twin brother, Fonte Gladen, said his sibling was declared legally blind after losing an eye when he was shot in the head nearly five years ago. Andre Gladen was living in Sacramento with his mother and collecting disability benefits before moving to Portland to live with his cousin, Diamond Randolph.
“He had been up, talking, and everything was cool,” Randolph said of the morning her cousin left her home around 7 a.m. She said she was unsure of where he was headed.
“He said, ‘I’ll be back,’ and then I never heard from him again,” she said.
The chaos unfolded just after 1 p.m. Sunday when Portland police responded to a report of an “unwanted person” at a home in Southeast Portland. Tenant Desmond Pescaia had made the call, saying a stranger was pounding at his door and refused to leave. The man was dressed but wasn’t wearing any shoes, and claimed someone named “Ernest” had directed him to the home for help.
The stranger, later identified as Gladen, also said he’d been released from a hospital and that someone was after him, trying to kill him, Pescaia recalled. He said he gave the man some water and $10 to catch a MAX train and get some food before turning him away. Pescaia would peek out of his window 15 minutes later to see Gladen fast asleep on his front stoop.
“I just wanted police to have him trespassed from here,” he told the newspaper Monday.
Portland Officer Consider Vosu soon arrived to the home, where Gladen was still lying on the stoop. When he saw the officer’s marked car pull up, he started banging on Pescaia’s door once more.
Pescaia opened the door to greet the officer when, moments later, Gladen forced his way inside and fell onto the living room floor. As reported by Oregon Live, “Vosu followed and struggled to turn Gladen onto his stomach to try to handcuff him, but Gladen kicked the officer off and into a rear bedroom. The officer, cornered in the bedroom, fired a Taser at Gladen after several warnings to get back. Gladen fell briefly, but got back up.”
Police said Gladen then pulled a martial arts-style knife charged at the officer. That’s when Vosu fired three shots from his gun at close range, striking then man. Gladen was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
“Why would he fall asleep at someone’s front door?’’ Fonte Gladen said. “This dude wasn’t looking to hurt anybody. … Instead of just getting help for the person, they just kill him.’’
“I was in the womb with that guy,” he added. “That’s my best friend. I feel empty, lost, confused.’’
The night before his death, Randolph said her cousin came home around 10:30 p.m. and said someone had tried to “rough him up” at a bar. He said he “almost didn’t make it’’ and that he might’ve stabbed the other man if someone had not stepped in, Randolph recalled, adding that Gladen always carried a knife with him for protection.
She told the newspaper that her cousin drank, smoked weed and wasn’t on medication at the time of the incident. A separate report claimed Gladen was taking medicine for bipolar disorder. Toxicology reports are still pending.
Pescaia admitted he’s still shaken up over it all, but said he felt the officer was justified in shooting Gladen. He said the deadly outcome still haunts him, however.
“Why me? Why this? Could I have done more? Could I have done better?” Pescaia said he keeps asking himself. “It’s really overwhelming to know I had 40 officers on my side to take care of this.”
Vosu radioed for backup, but the shooting unfolded before help arrived, the Oregonian reported.
“At the same time, I really don’t know what more I could have done,” Pescaia added.
Police Chief Danielle Outlaw has promised the department will conduct a thorough investigation into the incident. The newspaper points out that the Police Bureau remains under a federal settlement after a U.S. Justice Department probe determined that officers used excessive force against people with mental illness.
“A loss of life impacts us all and I know we all immediately search for answers,” Outlaw said in a statement.“I ask for patience as we continue our investigative process and then release information as soon as it is appropriate.”
Vosu has since been placed on administrative leave, Atlanta Black Star reports.