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Misconduct Costs $7 Million in 17 Years as
City Pays $105,000 to Victims of Pervert Cop
$5000 Paid to Woman Tasered at Bowling Alley
Ball Team Pays $15,000 to Woman Held by Portland Officer

According to our files, since 1993 Portland has paid out nearly $7 million in settlements, judgments, lawyer fees and lawsuits lost for police misconduct. With the recent payout of $105,000 to two women who were told by Officer John Wood to show their underwear (PPR #40), the roughly 200 recipients of money from Portland's self-insurance fund have now reached at least $6,900,880, with the top 25 settlements accounting for over $5 million of that money (see chart, below). Another $5000 was recently paid out to Charity Johnson, a woman who was Tasered by an officer at a bowling alley in December, 2005, in a settlement reached in February (Oregonian, February 26).

The women Wood harassed did not have their names printed in the press. Though Wood resigned in 2006, the City still felt it potentially would be found liable in court and settled (Oregonian, February 24) for the 14th largest total on our list.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Karps, who claims that Officer Sean Sothern (#28796) grabbed her arm, twisted it, spoke to her unprofessionally, then handcuffed her and accused her of interference and harassment, accepted a $15,000 settlement. Because the officer was working a soccer game at PGE Park, the Portland Beavers Baseball Team, rather than the City, paid the money (Oregonian, December 18).

Top 25 Portland Police Lawsuits Settled 1993 - 2009 Total Over $5 
Million Looking at the top 25 settlements list, 15 of them and all but three of the top 12 were for incidents since the 2002 creation of the "Independent" Police Review Division (IPR). The frequency of these acts show that the IPR--and its much-hyped studies of police shootings (see article on shootings in this issue)--have not made Portland safe from police brutality. The #3, #5 and #7 highest settlements were for shootings after the first PARC report came out in 2003--Raymond Gwerder (2005), James Jahar Perez (2004) and Dennis Young (2006), costing the city a total of over $1 million for those three incidents alone.

Portland being self-insured means one thing: These payments are coming from your tax dollars. While the City continues to assert that having civilian investigators working for IPR investigate cases would be redundant and costly, we have yet to see any officers held accountable for these shootings. Lt. Jeffrey Kaer, who killed Young, was fired but reinstated. Officer Jason Sery, who killed Perez, voluntarily resigned but apparently has been helping recruit new members for the Portland Police while he works as a Beaverton cop (Rap Sheet, December 2008). As far as we know, Officer Leo Besner, who shot Gwerder in the back while he was talking to a hostage negotiator, is still active with the Bureau.

  People's Police Report

May, 2009
Also in PPR #47

Chief Sizer Releases Profiling Plan
Judge Allows Secret List to Continue
Misconduct Costs $7 Million in 17 Years
Auditor to Quit; Board Adds Work Groups
Lawsuit Challenges Anti-Camping Ordinance
Shootings Report: Cops Let Suspect Bleed
  Clackamas Craziness and Other Area Police Shootings
Quick Flashes PPR 47
  • Private Cops Up the Ante
  • Oakland Copwatch Formed After Transit Cop Kills Man
  • Atlanta Cops Sentenced for Killing 92-Year-Old in Raid
  • Don't Swear At, Photograph Cops Abroad
Legal Briefs PPR 47
  • Supreme Court Rulings Erode Civil Liberties
  • Sit/Lie: It's Legal, No It's Not!
Updates PPR 47
  • Help or Coercion for Prostitution Suspects?
  • Woman Attacked by Cops Over Bike Light Loses Case
Rapping Back #47

Portland Copwatch
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065/ Incident Report Line (503) 321-5120
e-mail: copwatch@portlandcopwatch.org

Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.

People's Police Report #47 Table of Contents
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