On July 12, the family of a 49-year-old Army National Guard veteran killed by Eugene police is holding a press conference to again call attention to the shooting death of Brian Babb.
Babb was killed March 30, 2015, by officer Will Stutsman of the Eugene Police Department 45 minutes after the veteran with PTSD called his therapist for help. The therapist phoned EPD after Babb said he’d fired a gun into the floor, and officers showed up in an armored vehicle. Babb’s sisters, Stephanie Babb and Ronda McGowan, have said the militarized response by police undid the efforts of his therapist to calm Babb, who came to his front door holding a gun.
Stephanie Babb says the family will make an announcement about their lawsuit against the EPD and speak on reforming police departments. The family is working with civil rights attorney Andrew Stroth, who will also advocate for police reform and update information on the Babb lawsuit.
Stroth, of Action Injury Law Group, is a Chicago-based attorney who works on civil rights for victims of police abuse. He was previously hired by the family of John Elfritz, who was killed by police at a Portland shelter.
Also joining the Babb family will be members of Pacific Northwest Family Circle, a group whose mission is to “connect Oregon and Washington Families in their justice struggle for loved ones killed or injured by police,” according to Maria Cahill of PNWFC. The advocacy group and its members “provide emotional support to each other and families beyond the Pacific Northwest.”
Stephanie Babb says when she was first in touch with PNWFC, she thought in the context of Black Lives Matter, the fate of a “middle-aged white guy” like her brother Brian might not stand out. But, she says, “like us, they want change” when it comes to deaths at the hands of the police. There are people, primarily people of color, she says, being killed “that we don’t hear about.” Brian Babb’s “death is proof that no one is safe anymore,” she says.
EPD spokeswoman Melinda McLaughlin notes the current chief, Chris Skinner, started his job in April and was not on the force at the time Babb was shot. She points to reforms EPD made shortly after the shooting to refine response to veterans and others in extreme mental health crisis, including examining an integrated intervention program In Boise, Idaho, and filing reports on the use of armored vehicles.
One of the goals of the press conference, Babb says, is to “drum up support.”
“This still happened,” she says of the shooting death by police. “In Eugene.”
The press conference is noon Thursday, July 12, at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza in downtown Eugene. Babb encourages people to come with signs and poster boards.