Lloyd "Tony" Stevenson
January 1, 1954
April 20, 1985
Age at Death:
Mr. Stevenson was a charismatic father of five, a Marine Corps veteran. Known as a hard worker, Mr. Stevenson worked for Fred Meyer, a chain store, as a security supervisor, focusing on their loss-prevention efforts. He also served as an Army reservist. Long term, he had his sights set on becoming a state trooper. His size was notable, 6'4" tall, and weighed 240 pounds. He was a karate student that was admired for his skills.
One report states Mr. Stevenson walked from his home to a convenience store on the edge of the black section in Northeast Portland. (His wife reports he was going to get ice cream for his kids). In the store parking lot, the manager (a white man), grappled with a Black man, whom the manager accused of stealing a bottle of wine.“ Witnesses say Mr. Stevenson held back the crowd as the grappling went on. Police came to take the suspect into custody, and after doing that, the police reported they saw an altercation across the parking lot between a big Black man and two white men. Per officers, they found the Black man, Mr. Stevenson, in an angry state and sought to calm him. By then, other officers had arrived, and one of them attempted to restrain Mr. Stevenson with an arm around his shoulder. At that point, Mr. Stevenson moved his right arm and struck an officer. Some witnesses believed the arm movement was to remove the restraint, but the officers took it as an attack on the officer. Just let me show you my I.D.,” Mr. Stevenson was quoted to say as three police officers grabbed him. Witnesses called out to the officers that they had the “wrong guy,” that the large Black man they were wrestling to the ground had been trying to keep the peace when a confrontation in the store escalated. A few minutes later, Mr. Stevenson was dead. He never regained consciousness after a patrol officer used a choke hold to subdue him. Pressure this hold applies to the carotid artery in the neck diminishes blood flow to the brain and causes unconsciousness. Source: https://www.nytimes.com/1985/05/05/us/blacks-protest-choke-hold-death-in-oregon.html
Was justice served?
No. Immediately after Mr. Stevenson's death, the chief of police banned use of the choke hold. An inquest was convened. The officers were found to be criminally negligent homicide but the grand jury refused to bring indictments against any of the officers, stating that it could not determine “criminal culpability.” Noteworthy was the report that police officers sold out of tee shirts they sold in the precinct parking lot that read "Don't Choke 'Em, Smoke 'Em." Source: https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2020/10/lloyd-stevensons-death-shocked-portland-sparked-police-reform-35-years-later-his-family-still-struggles-with-what-happened.html