JUSTICE FOR TETE

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Portland Police Bureau ”PPB” and Oregon State Medical Examiners, 

We, the people of Portland and/or Oregon, demand that you take immediate action for the safety of the community and for Tete Gulley’s family.

Tete Gulley was a 31 year old queer Black transient. She was also known by some of her family as Otis. She was found hanging from a tree on the evening of May 27th in Rocky Butte Park.

The cause of death was determined to be suicide at the scene. Tete’s mother was told the autopsy concluded it had been a suicide, but she was not given any paperwork. The Oregon medical examiner has also denied both the OPB and Portland Mercury for a records request, saying there isn’t sufficient public interest. This petition is to prove otherwise.

This petition has two asks:

1. For the state medical examiner to release the autopsy paperwork to Tete’s family and the public. There IS sufficient public interest. This petition along with online engagement through @JusticeForTete Instagram will prove so.

2. For the PPB to be held accountable for failure to investigate critical evidence of witnesses and key suspects and to remedy this negligence immediately. The PPB has also failed to keep Tete’s family informed and has caused her family members a huge amount of stress and exhaustion. The PPB is allowing injustice to happen and must conduct a proper and thorough investigation of the death of Tete Gulley.

Showing sufficient public interest for the Oregon Medical Examiner:

The state medical examiner must release Tete Gulley’s autopsy paperwork. The family and the community believes there is foul play in the death of Tete Gulley and that it was not a suicide. Please consider every signature of this online petition to be a mark of public interest.

The Instagram campaign to find answers for Tete’s family is under the username @JusticeForTete which currently has over 400 followers. A post about Tete written by a local Portlander community member has over 2000 likes and collectively, all of the posts about Tete have been reshared more than 10,000 times across Instagram. Again, we stress that there IS sufficient public interest in knowing what exactly happened to Tete Gulley.

The PPB’s negligence and failure to properly investigate:

PPB continues to state that the Oregon Medical Examiner has full control over establishing the cause or manner of death. But the PPB is responsible for the investigation. Here are examples of their negligence:

  • The family found out about Tete’s death through Facebook. PPB never contacted them.
    • “Every time Tete’s family has attempted to inform PPB about potential evidence, they were ignored. Tete’s mother was given the name of a PPB East Precinct officer who was supposed to be handling the case; when she called him to report the rumors, he said he was not actually assigned to the case. So she contacted PPB again and was given the same officer’s name. When she did get through to an officer and gave him the alleged suspect’s name, they pushed back, telling her it had already been ruled a suicide.” - Portland Mercury.
    • The PPB later released a statement saying that it has been reaching out to the family (“A member of the Detective Division has made contact with family in an attempt to gather more details…”). This is false. Tete’s mother and siblings have not been contacted by PPB and Tete’s mother has been the one reaching out and demanding answers or reporting witnesses and evidence. This is unacceptable and appalling.
  • The Portland Police Bureau has been negligent in this investigation by failing to seek witnesses and properly question key suspects. The lack of urgency and professionalism is unacceptable by any local official or government entity of the United States of America. We demand that the PPB seek the video evidence and speak to each and every witness and suspect as a homicide investigation. Tete’s family now feels unsafe, as well as a large portion of Tete’s former homeless community.
  • The PPB is allowing vulnerable communities to be endangered by failure to investigate. Tete was part of the homeless community as a Black LGBTQ+ individual. Queer folks of color experience high levels of violence and terror throughout their entire lives. The PPB’s negligence showcases the racism and gender-based violence that Portland has systematically failed to address. We will not allow this to continue in our city.  

Evidence of Foul Play:

Please consider and investigate on the following matters.

Tete’s friends and members of the homeless community have contacted her family, claiming that Tete had been murdered, and was then hung from a tree to make it look like a suicide. They said there were other homeless people had witnessed it, and that someone had a video. The PPB is responsible for allocating the resources to find this video. Many claim that Tete had been murdered by an individual with a history of violence, especially towards trans women. This individual has been previously dismissed by the police. We demand that the PPB re-investigate this individual as a suspect for the murder of Tete Gulley. 

In the weeks before Tete’s death, she expressed new safety concerns about her homeless community. “He would say, 'Mom, I can't stay.' Then he would go back out there, and he was hanging around a crowd I was concerned about." - Tete's mother.

After PPB returned Tete’s belongings to her family, her sister noticed that Tete’s clothing was muddy. She said it wasn’t like her sibling to go out in dirty clothing—especially on the day she died. “He was with some women [earlier that day] taking pictures. They’d just gotten their faces done… Everybody that knows my brother knows that if he puts makeup on, he’s trying to be seen.” - Tete’s sister.

The family insists that Tete was not suicidal, nor did she show signs of desire to harm herself. Tete had been with her mother for a shopping trip on the day that she died. “I know he did not commit suicide, no doubt about that. For them to say that he committed suicide, it’s just hard to believe because he was just so full of joy regardless of what was going on around him.” – Tete’s mother.

“They’re not doing what they’re supposed to. My brother wasn’t suicidal. He wasn’t the type of person to harm himself. He’s never harmed himself in the history of time.” – Tete’s sister.

Tete was diagnosed with mental health issues (bipolar disorder) in middle school and came out as queer while still a teenager. All family members say she had no history of suicide attempts or self-harm. Family also found no note.

We write this petition to demand clear and precise action be taken under the failure to properly investigate the death of Tete Gulley.

TAKE ACTION. WE WILL NOT GIVE UP.

Medical examiner contact info: (971) 673-8200 & medical.examiner@state.or.us

CITY AUDITOR'S INDEPENDENT POLICE REVIEW 

1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 140 Portland, Oregon 97204
Phone: 503 823-0146 Fax: 503 823-4571
ipr@portlandoregon.gov; crc@portlandoregon.gov
Accepting commendations and complaints relating to sworn officers of the Portland Police Bureau.

https://www.portlandoregon.gov/ipr/52031