Multiple Lawsuits, High Visibility Incidents Rock Sheriff's Office
Numerous Sheriff's Deputies came under scrutiny for violent and other inappropriate behavior in recent months. Alarmingly, corrections officer David B. Thompson used an internet-based game to brag about breaking an inmate's eye socket and express his enthusiasm for using a Taser to shock inmates with 50,000 volts of electricity. "Seeing someone get TASER'd is second only to being the guy pulling the trigger... That is money, puts a smile on your face" (Portland Tribune, September 7). The injured inmate, David Michael Baker, says Thompson came into his cell and started beating him, then Thompson charged Baker with menacing and assault. Thompson wrote, "I crushed a dude's eye socket from repeatedly punching him in it... He took a plea to get away from me. He shoulda picked somebody else to try and fight." After the Tribune broke the story, Thompson was transferred away from inmates and taken off of Taser training duties (Tribune, September 18).
Lawyers Benjamin Haile and Leah Greenwald have been busy filing lawsuits on behalf of people injured by the Sheriff's Deputies. In September, they held a news conference on behalf of Frank Coleman and Mitchell Elliot, both of whom say they were beaten in the intake area (Tribune, September 25) and Michael Evans, whose beating was caught on a booking area video camera. Evans' case was also reviewed by the FBI, with results due any time (Portland Mercury , September 27). The next month, Evans was attacked by a fellow inmate, Eric Nash, apparently at the direction of deputies who told Nash that Evans was a "child molester." Nash drove a pencil two inches into Evans' left eye socket (Mercury, October 25).
--Clatsop County Sheriff's Deputy Robert Gordon Smith resigned in October after charges came out that he had inappropriate contact with a high school student (Oregonian, October 23)
--Clackamas County Deputies Donald Mainero and Bryan Lavigne were arrested in August, Maniero for "having sex with a teenage cadet" and Lavigne for "excessive force on a juvenile suspect" (Willamette Week, August 22).
--Former Multnomah Deputy Alexander Weise pleaded no contest to official misconduct for his "romantic" involvement with an inmate (PPR #41); he received one year of probation; Erich Watson, who possessed cocaine, smuggled contraband to and kissed an inmate, received 18 months' probation (Oregonian, August 15).
On October 16, Haile and Greenwald announced three lawsuits and a tort claim (intent to sue). Frank Waterhouse was Tasered and beanbagged by Portland Police while videotaping them as they chased a suspect in May, 2006. Portland Police dragged Ryan Dunn by his hair and beard at the October 2006 World Can't Wait rally (PPR #40). Gregory Benton (represented by attorney Ashlee Ables) says police illegally searched his home after wrongfully forcing him out at gunpoint in September, 2006. The tort claim was filed for Richard Prentice, who was intimidated by at least one of the officers who killed James Chasse, Jr. after he put up "Wanted" posters with their likenesses in June (PPR #42). Also present was Alejandro Queral of the NW Constitutional Rights Center, who noted that much of this misconduct could be addressed if the city had a better police review board.
Cop Sues Citizen
Officer Aaron Schmautz turned the tables and is suing suspect Brian Alvarez for injuries he sustained while arresting Alvarez in August, 2006. Alvarez says Schmautz broke his arm (Willamette Week, September 19).
See article on Sheriff Giusto's troubles
People's Police Report
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