For more than two years, the Portland Police Bureau has insisted its detectives diligently investigated the 2019 killing of a well-known anti-fascist activist.
Those claims now appear shakier than ever.New records obtained by OPB through a public records appeal show police collected significant evidence at the scene of the crime that pointed to a clear suspect just days after the homicide.
Portland police spoke to the main suspect, Christopher Knipe, in the days after the killing of Sean Kealiher. They also had likely obtained surveillance footage implicating Knipe more than two years before officers arrested him on Aug. 4.
In August, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office arraigned Knipe on a charge of second-degree murder for allegedly running over and killing Kealiher with a silver Ford Explorer on Oct. 12, 2019.
The city of Portland only released the additional records in the case following a successful legal appeal by OPB, which had first requested the records in June 2021. OPB had argued that the homicide investigation had made no progress for several years and that the full record should be made publicly available to address concerns from Kealiher’s mother and friends that police were slow to make an arrest due to Kealiher’s critical views of law enforcement.
On Sept. 7, the Clackamas County District Attorney’s office issued an order stating that some aspects of the investigative record must be made public, and the additional records were released Wednesday.
Those records show police initially interviewed Knipe and his uncle by phone on Oct. 13, 2019. Knipe’s uncle owned the Ford Explorer allegedly used to kill Kealiher. It’s not clear what was said in that conversation, however, because the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office agreed with the city of Portland that much of the investigative case file should remain redacted during Knipe’s ongoing prosecution.
The records also indicate the case’s lead investigator, Portland police Det. Scott Broughton, identified “subjects associated to Ford Explorer” as early as Jan. 14, 2020. Later court documents named Scott Duncan and Noah Caudle as associates of Knipe’s who were allegedly with him the night Kealiher died.
I mean, sure, we knew he did it but we are also glad he did so do we really have to arrest him?