In-Depth: Letha Winston, Mother of Patrick Kimmons and Activist for Justice and Police Accountability


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Tue, 01/29/2019 - 5:30pm to 6:00pm

Patrick Kimmons was fatally shot by Portland police in the early morning of September 30 in 2018. Since then, Letha Winston--mother of the 27-year-old father and baker--has led protests every Wednesday morning at 10:00 AM, marching from the Multnomah County Courthouse to City Hall to call the city to account for the death of her son, police violence against the Black community, and the lack of accountability for police who kill and the systems that support them. 

Speaking to the Portland Tribune last year, an uncle of Kimmons said "Kids are going to be kids, but he turned his life could have been anybody, and now we've got to bury him." Kimmons was well-known to North Precinct officers as a young man trying to escape the street life, and a number of them attended and spoke at his memorial service. He was shot, however, by two Central Precinct officers who later said they feared for their lives when Kimmons ran towards them after allegedly shooting and wounding two people in a downtown Portland parking lot. The Multnomah County District Attorney held a grand jury nearly two months later that declined to indict the officers, and they were also found to have acted within policy by an internal PPB investigation. 

Winston calls much of the official story into question. She points out that the DA did not interview anybody at the grand jury hearing whose testimony contradicted the officers; that the video the family was shown differs from that shown to the grand jury; that Chief Danielle Outlaw has still not reached out to the family; and that she is done with police, even the Gang Taskforce officers who knew her son. Winston spoke to KBOO earlier this month, and the interview is presented here unedited. 


This is the first installment of a new KBOO News program, Totality of Circumstances. When police use violence against civilians, their actions are judged by the legal system in light of the "totality of the circumstances" as known to the officer involved at the moment they used force. This program aims to expand the term to examine the personal and community sides of the story; how the powers-that-be set policies that increase or decrease the probability that police use violence against citizens; how the legal system often--almost always--fails to discipline officers; how the media and law collaborate to hurt the reputations of victims of police violence; how communities are fighting back, within and without the system; and a multitude of other stories touching on the topics of policing, resistance, and accountability. 

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