Friday, August 3, 2012

Henry Liu, Guns, Portland State University and Aurora

Now that we know what happened at Aurora we can easily agree that the Aurora killer "could have been predicted" and we should have done something. Hindsight accuracy is flawless.

If we examine and act on the same or similar trigger events in other instances we get a case like Henry Liu, a Portland Oregon graduate student who ended up in a psych ward for six days and was expelled from school.

Henry was pissed off at a professor, mouthed off like a suburban gangster in front of a witness, and went home to sulk. The witness talked to someone who talked to someone who called the police. The police went to Henry's home and he invited them in. They found guns. He went to the police station and then to a psych eval in a locked ward.

The original witness is anonymous and her name is never offered by the press that covers the story. Henry, by the way, is lawyered up now.

Articles below ...
From the Portland Oregonian, a pretty straight forward review of the case. Disturbing enough on its own.

The Skanner article below makes pointed remarks about the credibility of the still anonymous witness.

From Portland State University link below is the very public denunciation of a student that, at the end of six days confinement in a psych evaluation, was diagnosed as no threat to himself or the community. (still posted on line as of November 17, 2012)

The sixth amendment is a guide to due process. Although it is only absolute for criminal charges it is a great tool to evaluate the reasonableness of civil procedures.

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."

The Aurora case and the Henry Liu case are making the rounds of editorial pages because of the number guns that were involved. Not mentioned in prescriptions for tragedy prevention are cases where murderers bought too many box cutters. Or owned a car.


  1. Dear Mr. Watson, come here! And listen carefully. This is important.

    The Henry Liu case is now in the Oregon Court of Appeals alleging failure of due process in the university's expulsion of this graduate student.

    In that process, the institution rushed to run over a young man with extraordinary cross-cultural problem solving experience and promise, based on a campus security officer saying, that a female student said that Henry said that he was going to shoot their professor.

    That string of triple hearsay seems to have worked, because even you repeated it. The problem is: He never said it. The truth is: Henry has always had great affection and respect for that professor. The story is: there's an awful asymmetry when a staid institution determines an individual presents a threat, especially in these anxious times.

    --Henry's former conflict resolution internship supervisor

  2. You are of course correct! I should have written "Henry may have been pissed off at a professor, may have mouthed off like a suburban gangster in front of a witness, and then went home..... The anonymous "witness" talked to someone who talked to someone who called the police.