People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Just one year after the City paid over $168,000 to settle three Taser-related lawsuits (PPR #53),* a jury awarded Hollywood Theatre screener Dan Halsted $206,372.70 for a June, 2008 incident in which Officer Benjamin Davidson (#38108) zapped him in the back with a Taser five times for suspicion of spraying graffiti. Halsted had nothing to do with the tagging, and was walking home from a bar when Davidson and two others (Joshua Faris [#41138] and Trina Adams [#46083]) "stomped his back and ground his face into the sidewalk" after the tasering (Portland Mercury, July 3, 2008). The Oregonian reports that City Attorney James Rice tried raising doubts about whether Halsted fought back by pointing out many of the movies he shows at the Hollywood involve Kung Fu (March 14).
Halsted's jury award catapults him to the #9 spot in our top 25 settlements list (see http://www.portlandcopwatch.org for an updated version) at a time when the City is engaged in litigation against one of its insurers. Apparently, the Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania (ICSP) has refused to pay as much as $1.5 million, mostly racked up during the City's defense of officers who beat James Chasse, Jr. to death (PPR #51). The City is counting payments to its own attorneys against its $1 million deductible. Portland claims that ICSP and its sister company, Chartis Insurance, should be glad they did not retain outside counsel, since City Attorneys cost $100 per hour rather than two or three times that much. The City is also seeking reimbursement for money it spent fighting the reinstatement of Officer Bert Nederhiser (PPR #35), as well as non-police related cases (Oregonian, March 6).
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One of the community demands presented to the City and the Police Bureau by the Albina Ministerial Alliance (AMA) Coalition for Justice and Police Reform calls for all police candidates to be interviewed by "a culturally diverse group of psychologists." The City's contract with Dr. David Corey, who has been the sole practitioner reviewing every police hire since 1999, was set to expire early in 2012. Corey is white and practices in the very white suburb of Lake Oswego, but says he is qualified because of his experience growing up in a mostly black area and being hidden by neighbors in a bathtub to avoid neighborhood gunfire (PPR #52).
The AMA Coalition met with the Mayor and Chief in early November and raised the diversity issue,
then the City sent out a request for applications with a deadline two weeks later without informing
the AMA they had done so. As a result, only two people applied for the job--Corey and one other
person. The City was set to give Corey a new five year contract on February 29, but after AMA
Coalition vice chair Dr. T. Allen Bethel objected, the Mayor asked that the new contract be limited
to a six month period so he could do more work on the issue before August. The Council approved
the amended, shorter contract with a 5-0 vote.
The skateboarder who was hit on the head by an uncertified Pacific Patrol security guard
#52) came to a settlement with the company for an undisclosed amount. The company brokered a
deal with the Department of Public Safety, Standards and Training to pay just half of the $1000
fine for its failure to certify him (Oregonian, January 29). Tony Schwartz, lawyer for the
skateboarder, wrote Commissioner Nick Fish a letter urging the end to private security in public
parks (Mercury Blog, January 19). A contract for private security for various Portland
approved at Council on March 21; it is not clear whether this fits into Fish's plan to expand Park
Rangers' jobs and cut back on private cops (PPR #55).
Mark Nyberg, who says that an April 2010, Multnomah County deputries "tackled him, stomped
his face, bent back his fingers and twisted his broken ankle" received an out of court settlement
$55,000 in late February. The Willamette Week (March 1) reports that the pain caused
"lose control of his bowels" and that bruises on his face included some "shaped like boot
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.