SAVAGE BEATING, COVER-UP HIGHLIGHT PROBLEMS WITH POLICE BUREAU Portland received a rare (and unpleasant) insight into the workings of Police Bureau internal investigations this spring. A vicious assault on a citizen by two off-duty officers was apparently covered up at the highest levels of the Bureau. As a result of this violence, two cops resigned and will go to prison, a Grand Jury blasted police supervisors for "gross negligence," taxpayers will likely pay $300,000 to the beating victim, and public trust in the police fell further.
On January 24, officers Grant Bailey and Craig Hampton became involved in a dispute with a man while at a downtown club. After the man was thrown out by security, the officers followed him and beat him down in the street in front of more than a dozen witnesses. The victim, James Ladd, was pummeled and slammed into a plate-glass window. He suffered numerous injuries including swollen-shut eyes and a broken nose.
The first on-duty officer to arrive on the scene was Ryan Lee (#39878). Lee, a rookie, apparently proceeded to do his job: interview witnesses, take photos, call supervisors and write a thorough report. He summoned to the scene Lt. Gabe Kalmanek (#8214), who led a brief examination into the assault. Lt. Kalmanek, a long-time Bureau member, began acting in a way which could easily be interpreted as protecting the rogue officers. He reportedly ordered officers on the scene not to file reports (Oregonian, May 15). In his own report (filed three days later), the Lieutenant claimed the victim suffered only a bloody nose and, because the beaten man declined to press charges, didn't order a criminal investigation.
A letter from Ladd's attorney lists Central Precinct Commander Rosie Sizer, two Lieutenants, three Sergeants and several officers as being involved in the cover-up, charging that they took no action against Bailey and Hampton (Portland Tribune, June 4).
Three weeks after the incident, a police sergeant reported the assault anonymously to the "Independent" Police Review Division (IPR). The IPR sat on the complaint for twelve days, then handed it over to the Internal Affairs Division (IAD), although it could have immediately been referred to the District Attorney's Office. IAD, in turn, waited another two weeks to make sure a criminal investigation got started by Bureau detectives. Even then, Bailey and Hampton were not placed on leave until March 8, in violation of Bureau procedures regarding criminal investigations of officers. (Furthermore, nothing about the case was reported in the press until April 2.)
The D.A. convened a Multnomah County Grand Jury to hear witness testimony about the beating. After the testimony of around 30 witnesses, the Grand Jury indicted both officers on assault charges. Bailey agreed to testify against Hampton and pled guilty to third-degree assault. He agreed to serve 18 months in prison, but sentencing won't take place until after Hampton's trial, probably in August. Hampton was indicted on charges of second-degree assault, third-degree assault and first-degree official misconduct. If convicted of the first charge, he would serve a minimum of five years and ten months.
The Grand Jury was as concerned with the cover-up as it was with the beating. In an open letter to the District Attorney (published May 8 in the Portland Observer), the Jury accused the Bureau of attempting to "bury" the assault by putting their "heads in the sand," and that commanding officers were not "interested in or capable of ascertaining the facts." The Jury emphasized that officers had destroyed evidence (one officer threw away a bloodied shirt) and were more concerned with police "union" rights than the rights of the victim.
Subsequently, Ladd's attorney filed a claim against the City asking for $300,000 in exchange for not taking the case to court. The City is likely to hand over the money, which will not come out of the Police Bureau's budget, but from the City's self-insurance ("Risk Management") fund--a fund using taxpayer dollars.
This case provides an example of why the People's Police Report isn't able to carry more stories of cops who behave well--by trying to do their jobs appropriately and by speaking out against misconduct. Both Sgt. Dirk Anderson (#14493), who filed the original anonymous complaint to the IPR, and Officer Lee, the rookie who wanted to file a report but was told not to, requested transfers to other precincts "for [their] own protection" (Willamette Week, May 15).
Whistle-blowing officers (such as Damon Woodcock--see PPR #26) often find themselves the targets of retaliation, including being sent to dangerous calls with no backup. When the price for honesty within the Bureau is harassment and the endanger-ment of one's very life, it's easy to understand why there aren't more cops doing "good deeds" out there.
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