People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
On July 25, FBI agents raided three homes of Portland area activists as part of an alleged effort to track down a violent criminal conspiracy. That their warrant shows they were looking for "'anti- government or anarchist literature,' black clothing, and flags" shows this was politically motivated.
According to the Portland Mercury (August 2), though the raid was conducted by the Joint
Terrorism Task Force, Mayor Adams says all non-FBI personnel were from "some other
jurisdiction" than Portland.
Charles Freeman, a 45 year old released from a state mental hostpital, was beaten and shocked with
a Taser by Portland Police on July 5, despite his being naked. Freeman was escorted out of a store
and police say he tried to "commandeer an occupied van," then took off running (KGW-TV,
6). While Freeman allegedly bit an officer, video of the incident and the fact that he was clearly
unarmed indicate another case for the Department of Justice to investigate around Portland Police
use of force and people with mental illness.
On May 2, Willamette Week reported that David Hindal was granted a $38,000 settlement by County Commissioners for an incident in 2010 when he was brutalized by Deputy Jason Lowe. According to the WW, while Hindal was tied to a chair, "Lowe put him in a choke hold and hit him in the face and head several times, breaking his nose."
A week later, the Oregonian (May 10) reported that Sheriff's Lieutenant Brett Elliott filed
because of a demotion he claims was retaliation for blowing the whistle on Tim Moore. Elliott says
Moore had risen to Chief Deputy (and now Staton's undersheriff) by cheating on his certification.
The federal lawsuit also says Staton himself promoted others without proper certification.
In contrasting decisions, Portland City Council extended the ability of private money to pay for public police officers, but withdrew a contract allowing the City to buy equipment from a current Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officer.
The contract to hire officers, which allows the Portland Business Alliance to pay three cops' salaries and therefore direct their attention to "quality of living crimes" in the downtown core, was delayed from early April until June 6 after Portland Copwatch had it pulled from the "consent agenda." Despite our testimony asking, "If Copwatch had enough money, could we hire our own officers too?", the Council approved a five year extension to the contract, which began in 1997. (We gave the same testimony in August, 2007 to no avail.)
On May 30, Mayor Adams pulled an item that would have granted a waiver so that Officer John
Myers could sell equipment, including "flash-bang grenades," to the Bureau through his business,
"Extreme Products LLC" (Oregonian, May 30). Though it is clearly a conflict of interest,
Reese brushed such concerns aside, writing that no public input was needed, and that Extreme
Products is a minority owned business. This item was pulled from the "consent agenda" by the
Oregon Progressive Party before Adams withdrew it.
In a welcome surprise, the US Department of Justice sent a letter to the Baltimore Police
Department (BPD), putting them and every police department in the country on notice: People have
a right to record police under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. A lawsuit against the BPD
alleged that a man's camera was taken and footage deleted as he filmed the arrest of his friend. In
the letter, the DOJ said recording police will "engender public confidence in our police
promote public access to information necessary to hold our governmental officers accountable, and
ensure public and officer safety" (Wired.com, May 17). This is a useful addition to the Glik
decision in the First Circuit last year (PPR #55), which upheld the right to record police in
Commander Mike Crebs supported skateboarders who ride down the streets in Portland's West Hills, against Commissioner Randy Leonard's effort to ban them. Crebs said it is hard to pull over skateboarders in traffic (Portland Mercury, June 14). However, cops began handing out tickets over the summer and Council is expected to consider a ban in the fall.
It Gets (A Little) Better: Seventeen Portland cops made a moving "It Gets Better" video talking of their experience as gay, lesbian and transgender individuals growing up. Unfortunately, seeing most of them wearing uniforms raises the question of why they joined an organization that oppresses the poor and people of color.
Clackamas County Deputy Troy Steiner was found guilty of assault and official misconduct for beating a 65-year-old inmate, caught on jail video (Oregonian, May 15).
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.