EUGENE, Ore. -- A new mural in downtown Eugene is causing a stir.
The image, near Park and Willamette, shows an officer and Charles Landeros, who was killed by police at Cascade Middle School in January 2019.
Lane County District Attorney Patty Perlow ruled the shooting justified, saying Landeros struggled with officers and pulled a gun and fired at officers -- narrowly missing -- before being shot. School resource officers initially responded to the school that day for a custody dispute involving Landeros’ child, who witnessed the shooting.
KEZI 9 News spoke with one of the officers who responded to the scene. He allegedly was shot at twice by Landeros that day.
He wants to remain anonymous but he told KEZI 9 News that he is shocked to see this mural. He said this depiction of police officers and Landeros is wrong.
The officer said he wants the mural to be taken down immediately and for those who are responsible for painting it to be held accountable.
A spokesperson with the city said the mural was created as part of Fiesta Cultural, a celebration of Latinx arts, culture and heritage that takes place between September and December each year. Fiesta Cultural is a program of Lane Arts Council, and the City of Eugene is one of the 15 partners and sponsors.
They told KEZI 9 News that this mural project used a different process than other public art processes and was largely community-driven. They said a committee of indigenous and Latin American community members worked with the mural artist Rodolfo Redstone Serna to inform the design of the mural.
City officials claim the intent of this project was to provide a platform for multi-cultural voices to be heard and to build trust.
While some supported police's actions that day, others shared concerns about the shooting and called it an "assassination." People on both sides gathered at the school to protest just days after the incident.
The mural comes amid months of social unrest following the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police in other parts of the US.
Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner has issued a statement saying the department was surprised by the mural and called it “divisive” and said it contributes to “ongoing trauma and pain” from the Cascade Middle School shooting.
Read Skinner’s full statement below:
"The community-driven mural installed in the alley off West Park Street came as a surprise to us at the Eugene Police Department. We understand the importance of art and its ability to bring communities together to have difficult conversations. We also understand and fully embrace the need to provide a platform for multi-cultural voices to be heard through art in many forms. Some images in the mural, however, feel very divisive and do not seem to be in alignment with the goal of bringing community together and building trust with the public safety professionals that serve the community every day. A police officer hopes to go their entire career without having to take the life of another human being. We recognize the trauma and sadness when a life is taken and how many lives are forever changed as a result of that deadly encounter. The police officers and their families were profoundly impacted by the events that happened that day at Cascade Middle School. Two police officers were not only confronted with their own survival but also had to reconcile the thought of taking another human life. This mural and the choice to include certain images seems to contribute to the ongoing trauma and pain felt by many. The Eugene Police Department is committed to finding ways to be seen as guardians for everyone in our community. We will be open and available for difficult and productive conversations during this time of unrest and are committed to being a model within our profession."