People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Within days, news came out about "road rage" incidents involving two high-profile Portland Police Sergeants. One was Kyle Nice, who was involved in the death of James Chasse Jr. in 2006 (see shootings article in this issue). Nice pulled his gun on a man he says cut in front of his pickup truck while Nice was driving his 6-week-old child around. The other, Scott Westerman, head of the Portland Police Association (PPA), unbelievably had two incidents with the same driver two days apart.
Neil Ruffin, the man who says Sgt. Nice pointed a gun at him, filed a lawsuit seeking $145,000, blaming the City for not properly disciplining Nice. Officer Thomas Brennan, whose rants against civilians have peppered the PPA newsletter (PPR #45-46), previously filed a complaint against Nice for flying off the handle at a homeless man. Instead of Nice being disciplined, Brennan was shuffled off to the evidence division (Oregonian, April 9).
Virginia Thompson was stopped by Sgt. Westerman: (1) near I-205 on Portland's east side on January 28, where he screamed at her to dim her lights, and (2) on the southwest Beaverton- Hillsdale Highway January 30 after Westerman allegedly slammed on the brakes in front of the car. Westerman swears it was a coincidence that he approached the same car twice, explaining that he was dealing with "personal circumstances" the first day and was trying to get to his son's soccer game on the second (Oregonian, April 10).
The Bureau's manual of policies and procedures states in directive 311.30, Off Duty Responsibility of Officers: "Members shall not make arrests, issue citations, or use their official position to gain an advantage in a personal conflict."
--The day between Westerman's two incidents was the day Aaron Campbell was shot.
--Westerman did not remember saying he was an officer, yet Thompson was able to file a complaint.
--After the first incident, police had trouble identifying Westerman via his license plate.
--On April 19, Westerman announced he would step down as PPA President effective June 19.
PCC student and athlete Delease Carter and 32-year-old Shei'meka Newmann each brought
forward complaints of unnecessary force by Portland Police. Carter says Officer Scott Broughton
(#40218) and four others threw her to the ground , put a knee on her head, cuffed and frisked her
when she and her friends were walking in the middle of the street on January 28. Carter was
smoking a cigar and the officers sprung to action when she moved her hand to take the cigar out of
her mouth (Oregonian, February 5). Newmann says she was roughed up by Officer Aaron
Dauchy (#30873, the other officer in the "beanbag" incident with Officer Chris Humprheys-- PPR #49) and
James Sandvik (#36242) on a MAX platform in February 2009. Her crime? Asking why they had
pulled a man off the train. Newmann filed a lawsuit for $152,000 on November 19 (Willamette
Week, November 25). Both Carter and Newmann are African American.
Two days before Aaron Campbell was shot, reportedly suicidal 26-year-old Daniel Shaull set
himself on fire in downtown Portland. A responding police officer accidentally grabbed a giant can
of pepper spray instead of a fire extingusher to try putting out the blaze. Because both canisters are
red, the unnamed officer says she made a mistake and feels "heartsick" (Oregonian, January
29). Whether or not the aerosolized hot pepper being sprayed on Shaull's burning skin caused
excruciating pain and accelerated his death are unknown, though Chief Sizer claimed "In fact, it
didn't contribute to his death" (KPTV, January 28).
While champagne corks may be popping and diners selecting an expensive wine at the downtown Arlington Club, homeless people in the same area are being restricted from their choices of alcohol by the Portland Core Alcohol Impact Zone Agreement (PCAIZA). This is just another example of how rules differ between the haves and the have nots, the rich and the poor, the housed and the homeless.
Holders of Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) off premise sales licenses are agreeing to "voluntarily" participate in the PCAIZA. The agreement is supposedly addressing "the chronic problem of public intoxication downtown."
The recitals of the Agreement state that the Impact Zone is home to over 53% of citywide reported drinking in public and 25% of detox incidents according to Police Bureau reports, and that 69 stores in the area sell alcohol. The Agreement focuses on high alcohol content beverages in large containers, saying they are "known to be favored by those who drink in public illegally." The licensees agree to not sell single containers of malt liquor and other specific products. The few exceptions include beverages brewed in the state of Oregon and gift shops in hotel lobbies. At the March meeting of the Sidewalk Advisory Committee (see above), Officer Mark Friedman stated there are many people drinking in public, including "kids coming down," and that there is "no one typical person." A Committee member pointed out people's right to drink and that the homeless people have no other place where they can drink. In Oregon, it is not a crime to be intoxicated in public, but if the intoxicated person cannot care for him/herself and becomes a problem for others, that person will be taken to Detox.
ONI staff mentioned that they are working with PSU to do a study regarding the effectiveness of
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.