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Taser Updates: Supreme Court Refuses Appeal by Seattle Cops; Portland Lawsuit Taser Totals Examined

On May 29, the US Supreme Court denied the request of the Seattle Police to review the so-called "Brooks" case involving a pregnant woman who was drive stunned multiple times because she refused to sign a driving-related ticket. This means that the Ninth Circuit ruling of Brian v. McPherson (PPRs #50-52) governs the Western U.S. including Oregon, and the Portland Police cannot use the 50,000-volt weapons against people who do not pose an immediate threat of any kind.

Meanwhile, in researching for the Citizen Review Committee's Taser/Less Lethal report (article), PCW found that since 2002, all cases in which people sued over the use of Tasers (some of which also involved other civil rights violations including deaths) add up to $931,165.77, plus internal legal expenses of at least $409,991.28. That's over $1.3 million spent on 14 cases, including the high-profile ones of Eunice Crowder ($145,000--PPR #33), Frank Waterhouse ($209,188--PPR #49), Sir Millage ($37,000--PPR #41), Hung Minh Tran ($81,767--PPR #53 and this issue), and Dan Halsted ($258,040--PPR #56). One major incident we haven't covered in the newsletter before is another case involving Sgt. Leo Besner, "the million dollar man." On May 13, 2006, Besner and other officers made their way into the house of Mayra Valle Aviles, shot her two dogs, damaged her house, and Tasered her while she was in her bed, all to conduct a search warrant. The settlement in that case alone was $93,906.30. The incidents above all occurred between 2002 and 2009; anything more recent is likely still winding its way through court. It's about time the PPB starts to seriously rein in its cops and stop the Taser craziness.

Gun Exclusion Zones: More Racial Bias Includes Talk of "Black Style Gangs"

In July, City Council received the second annual report on Gun Exclusion zones. Last year, of 13 people arrested under the ordinance, only three were white, the other ten (77%) being African Americans (PPR #54). This year, 36 of 42 people given exclusions were African American (86%). The report is quick to justify this using "anecdotal evidence from PPB employees" which includes that "black style" gangs use guns where Latino gangs use knives and white gangs punch/kick people. However, that does not explain why only 52% of arrests for gun crimes citywide are of African Americans but the exclusion rate is 86%.

stats The oversight committee reviewing the Zones said they found no evidence of bias. This indicates the zones were designed and implemented to deliberately target African Americans... even if you believe the arrests aren't themselves a product of racial profiling. The fact is, African Americans are disproportionately stopped, searched, and arrested in Portland, regardless of gang violence (see articles here and here).

Chief Reese increased size of the Gang Enforcement Team (who escalated the situation leading to Keaton Otis' death--PPR #51) from 25 to 43 for the summer (Oregonlive, June 15). Police focusing on NE Killingsworth prompted activist JoAnn Hardesty to ask how many African Americans have been stopped, searched and arrested there. The City asked for $1400 to process the request. The Bureau released a bare-bones report on August 16 showing a 200% increase in minor crime arrests.

"Illegal Drug Impact Areas" Also Impact Disproportionately

A report presented to Council in early May shows problems with the "Illegal Drug Impact Areas," successors to Portland's racially biased "Drug Free Zones" (PPR #53). Since June 2011, 1602 cases involving drugs in Portland were tracked. 417 led to exclusions (now tied to convictions, while under the DFZs they were issued upon arrest); 162 of those, or 39%, were of African Americans in a 6% black city, while 55% of those excluded under DFZs were black. Only 28% of the cases involved African Americans, so their exclusion rate is significantly high. There is still no reporting on the enforcement of the zones-- that is, how many and who gets picked up for trespassing once they violate the exclusion. Though extended through June 30, 2012, the IDIAs have not been formally approved for 2012-13 by Council.

  People's Police Report

September, 2012
Also in PPR #57

Portland Police Shoot Several,
  Chasse Discipline Overturned

  • Other Shootings in Oregon
Excessive Force on May Day 2012
Serious Complaint Uninvestigated
Shooting Report Confirms Concerns
IPR Report Shares Little
New Cameras Monitor Citizens
Homeless Still Targeted
Promotions for Questionable Cops
Candidates on Police Accountability
Stops Data Show Police Bias
  • Taser Lawsuits
  • Gun Exclusions Disproportionate
  • Drug Exclusions Also Disproportionate

Quick Flashes
  • FBI Raids Activists Homes
  • Man in Mental Health Crisis Beaten, Tased
  • Whistle Blower Demoted, Sues
  • Cops Still For Sale In Portland
  • DOJ Says Copwatching Protected Speech
  • Skateboards, PPB Video, Sheriff Guilty

Rapping Back #57

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.

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