January 27, 2021
PORTLAND, Ore. – Today, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced that 64-year-old Paul Rivas is charged with murder in the second degree and other related charges for his alleged role in the vehicular homicide of 77-year-old Jean Gerich and the vehicular assault of at least six other people.
Rivas is charged with one count of murder in the second degree, seven counts of failure to perform the duties of a driver and six counts of assault in the second degree.
It is alleged that Rivas used his vehicle as a dangerous weapon to cause the death of Ms. Gerich and to cause physical injury to at least six other people.
This investigation started on January 25, 2021 when the Portland Police Bureau responded to multiple reports of a vehicle described as a Honda Element traveling at a high rate of speed and intentionally striking multiple people in the areas of Southeast Stark Street and Southeast Belmont Street between approximately Laurelhurst Park and Southeast 17th Avenue.
Law enforcement identified Rivas as the driver of the Honda Element.
During the investigation, law enforcement spoke with numerous witnesses and learned Rivas appeared to be deliberately attempting to strike nearby vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians by swerving towards them while in the roadway and while on the sidewalk.
Witnesses reported that multiple cyclists, vehicles and pedestrians, including Ms. Gerich, were hit and in each case the driver sped away without making any attempt to stop or render aid.
Officers arrived on scene and located Ms. Gerich with critical injuries. Emergency first aid was already being provided to her by community members. Paramedics transported Ms. Gerich to the hospital where she died.
The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office determined Ms. Gerich’s death to be caused by blunt force trauma and ruled the death a homicide.
Additional police officers found the Honda Element, which was registered to Rivas, crashed into another vehicle. Rivas was being surrounded by a group of community members. Law enforcement took Rivas into custody. Paramedics and law enforcement transported Rivas to the hospital for medical observation. Upon his medical discharge, Portland Police booked Rivas into the Multnomah County Detention Center.
Rivas appeared in Multnomah County Circuit Court on January 27, 2021. The court appointed Rivas a public defender. A plea of not guilty was entered on behalf of Rivas.
The next court date in this matter is scheduled for February 4, 2021.
Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt recognizes the immediate response of the community members who provided first aid to those injured during this incident and to those who provided law enforcement with witness statements.
DA Schmidt also recognizes and thanks our local first responders including the Portland Police Bureau, Portland Fire & Rescue, American Medical Response, the medical teams at Oregon Health & Science University and Legacy Emanuel Medical Center and the Victim Advocates assigned to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.
A charging document is only an accusation of a crime. Rivas is innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Brent Weisberg, Communications Director
Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office