Legally Blind, Mentally Ill and Dead in South Portland

Words by Kokayi Nosakhere

Say his name: Andre Cartel Gladen.

“At this time, we have not heard anything from the Portland Police department,” said Fonte Gladen, twin brother of Andre Cartel Gladen, 36, who lost his life on Sunday, January 6, 2019 in South Portland on 96 Avenue and Southeast Market Street at the home of Desmond Pescaia.

It is difficult to process the death of a loved one, especially the one who looks just like you. Their memory stares directly in your face  every morning when you look in the mirror. To endure this emotional pain with almost no information is really hard. To say Fonte, is dealing with unique challenges nine days following Andre’s death is an understatement.

And, as the Black Lives Matter movement sheds light upon, it’s an even greater challenge to grieve and seek justice – that may never come. It is that fear – like Sacramento’s Stephon Clark or Oakland’s Nia Wilson – animating the Gladen family’s demand for more information.

“His [Andre’s] death has been covered by a few news channels,” Fonte said, “who continue to twist and manipulate the story, as they always do. So, we [the Gladen family] have discontinued communication with them [news channels who have covered the story so far], and are looking into more independent media outlets.”

This method is producing more satisfying results. “Black Portland and Don’t Shoot Portland social media/ social justice communities have really stepped up and are doing all they can to assist my family in our time of loss,” he said.

On Saturday, January 12, 2019 Fonte’s father viewed his brother’s body. He asked for the coroner report, which the family was told is forthcoming.

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Andre and Fonte Gladen

Here is what is currently known and being used for the public conversation.

On Thursday, Maxine Bernstein, published an article with the Oregonian/OregonLive news outlet. She quotes Fonte extensively.

On Saturday, January 5, at 10:30 pm Andre spoke, in person, with his cousin, Diamond Randolph. At 31, while standing his ground against a neighborhood drug dealer, Andre survived a shotgun to the face. As a result, he lost vision in his left eye and only saw shadows and silhouettes out of his right eye.

“He couldn’t see. To use his cellphone, he had to put the screen up to his nose,” Fonte said, trying to explain how “legally blind” his brother was.

“He had to rely on everybody for help and that really messed with him as well,” said Donna Martin, their sister. Her words were reported by Ericka Cruz Guevarra and Conrad Wilson of OPB.

Saturday night Andre was scared, after experiencing Portland’s nightlife. He lived in Sacramento, with his mother on disability. He started visiting Randolph in December. That night, he expressed experiencing enough fear to entertain defending himself.

Andre seemed himself the next morning, Sunday, and left Randolph’s presence fully clothed and wearing white Nikes.

Everything which happens next is under great dispute. So much so, Bernstein reported the Gladen family is seeking to sue the Portland Police Department. It begins with one of Andre’s cousin, Victoria Flores, calling mental hospitals in Portland and learning Andre was admitted to Adventist Hospital on 10123 SE Market Street.

Fonte has questions. First, if Andre was admitted into the hospital, why was he allowed to leave the hospital after such a short time?  Second, what condition was Andre allowed to leave in?

While Andre drank alcohol and smoked weed, he was not on any prescription drugs; no mental illness medication. Third, Was Andre given medication by Adventist staff? Fourth, where did Andre’s clothes disappear too?

“I am not currently aware of the conditions of the mental health services in Portland. I recently found out about Project Respond Cascadia Behavioral Health, who deal with these types of crises. Instead of the police department taking advantage of these agencies, they deal with it themselves: having no experience with these situations people, end up dead. This is an issue that needs to be talked about between the community, law enforcement and the mental health agencies,” Fonte said.

At 1 pm, the last moments of Andre’s life occur in front of Desmond Pescaia, who wanted no parts of Andre. Andre was pounding on the door, reeking from using the bathroom on himself, was thin, and had no shoes on. Using a blanket to keep himself warm, Andre was acting erratic, too erratic for Pescaia’s tastes.

Andre made repeated requests to enter Pescaia’s house to escape a man in a white hoodie carrying a gun. Andre feared for his life. Andre said Ernest told him to knock on Pescaia’s door for help.

Fonte is thinking that Andre was referring to Ernest, a dead cousin.

Guevarra and Wilson reported: Polina Krivoruk, [Andre] Gladen’s ex-wife, knew him for more than 20 years and reiterated what other family members said, that Gladen suffered from schizophrenia but she had never known him to be violent. “I know when he has those [mental breakdowns] he feels like people are out to get him,” Krivoruk said. “But he wouldn’t be able to hurt you physically because he can’t see until you’re right in front of his face. It couldn’t have been any threat unless they were face to face.”

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Andre, Polina Krivoruk and their daughter

Pescaia refused Andre entry, offering him a glass of water, instead. Then, he closed the door. Andre, becoming more agitated, knocked on the door repeatedly, informing Pescaia that he was legally blind and fearing for his life. Pescaia offered Andre $10 to get on the MAX and purchase some food. Andre refused the money, choosing to wrap himself in the blanket and fall asleep on Pescaia’s porch. Pescaia did not know what to do.

All of that happened in one hour. Pescaia called his landlord; then, the two of them decided to call the police at 2 pm.

Bernstein reported, “Why would he fall asleep at someone’s front door?’’ Fonte Gladen said. “This dude wasn’t looking to hurt anybody.”

Guevarra and Wilson report, “Portland Police came under scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice after a 2012 review found the agency engaged in a pattern and practice of excessive use of force against people suffering from mental health problems.”

This is when the story gets really disputed. East Precinct Officer Consider Vosu answered the call. When Andre sees the officer, he panics and – somehow – “runs inside of Pescaia’s house.”

Fonte asks, “How did my brother get inside that guy’s house?”

Did Pescaia open the door? If he opened the door, why did he open the door? Was he watching Officer Vosu work?

How Andre gets into the living room and how Office Vosu gets into the rear bedroom are unanswered questions.

“The officer said that my brother fell stomach first into the house. And, then, he got on top of my brother trying to handcuff him.” Fonte recalls. “How does he [Andre] kick the officer off of him, if the officer is on his back and Andre is on his stomach?

Bernstein reports that Andre runs into Pescaia’s rear bedroom.

Inside the bedroom, Officer Vosu fired a taser at Andre. Both Vosu and Pescaia say the taser appeared to have no effect on Andre. He remain agitated, falling down from the effects of being tased, but getting back up. Officer Vosu demanded Andre “get back.”

Bernstein reports that Andre pulled a knife at this point and Officer Vosu fired his weapon.

Guevarra and Wilson report: “Officers said they recovered a knife at the scene. Pescaia, the witness, said he did not see a knife until after Gladen was shot.”

“Did you read that article? They said my brother had a $100 knife with a special handle. My brother wouldn’t spent $100 on a knife,” Fonte said.

I would like for the news to tell the whole story and to stop sharing snippets of what has been shared with them,” Fonte said. “I would like the police chief, or someone the represents the department, to at least reach out to my family with answers as to what happened, though we know that will never happen without being mixed with a bunch of bs. I would like to see social justices’ organizations respond to these problems with aim, purpose and passion until justice has been served.”

Until then, the Gladen family waits for justice.

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