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Review Committee Expands to 11 Members, Sends Misidentifed Search Case Back
Chief Stalls on Bully Cop Finding as Board Considers Three Other Cases

After changes made to the City Code in January (p. 1), the Citizen Review Committee, which hears appeals of misconduct complaints, was expanded from 9 members to 11. Due to vacancies, a total of five new members were appointed in February. The new members' first meeting was uneventful as Chief Reese failed to show up to discuss his rejection of a finding CRC suggested be "Sustained" against an aggressive off-duty officer (PPR #61). At earlier meetings, they sent a case back in which the wrong officer was investigated, thus found innocent, on charges of improperly questioning the appellant, and changed a finding in favor of an officer who appealed his road rage allegation. Later, they held a Case File Review on a use of force incident. CRC also began meeting outside of the downtown core, heard from the Training Advisory Committee, prepared for the Fairness Hearing on the US Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit against the city (p. 1), and continued work group efforts on policy. The "Independent" Police Review Division (IPR), which houses the CRC, released two quarterly reports that raised questions about accountability.

Case #2013-X-0003: Off-duty Detective Engaged in Conflict with Ex-Wife Three Times (follow up)

The highlight of the March meeting should have been the Bureau's efforts to get CRC to change its mind about its December decision finding Detective Jason Lobaugh out of policy for his unprofessional behavior toward his ex-wife and her current husband. Since CRC was unanimous in its original vote, it seems unlikely the Chief will be able to sway a swing vote during a "Conference Hearing" as he did in the McCorvey racial profiling/rudeness case last fall (also PPR #61). If CRC holds firm, this could be the first case to head to City Council since 2003 (and only the 2nd ever under the IPR system--PPR #30).

However, the Chief asked CRC for more time before arguing his case. When Chief Sizer was faced with a strong CRC recommendation to sustain a finding in 2010 (against Officer Frashour of Aaron Campbell fame), she ended up caving rather than bring the case to Council (PPR #51). Reese also did not appear at the April meeting. And while City Code indicates he needs to respond to CRC within 60 days (which he did, by replying on Jan. 23 to their December request), there is no timeline for the "Conference Hearing." Since the DOJ continues to push for CRC to hold its hearings in just 21 days, it's important to note that CRC did not cause this now four-month delay.

Case #2013-X-0005: Officer A Did Not Violate the Appellant's Rights-- Officer C Did

In February, CRC held a full hearing on case #2013-x-0005, in which David Walker, who found a lost cell phone, was held in his house while officers "looked around" and asked questions without issuing the Miranda warning (you have the right to remain silent, etc.). Walker was handcuffed by PPB officers inside his home based on probable cause given by Washington County Deputies, who claimed he stole the phone and was holding it for a reward. Walker also asserts the officers were rude, filed an incomplete report, and injured him by applying the cuffs too tight. Lt. Larry Graham, the officers' supervisor, explained all the allegations were found in policy ("Exonerated") even though Officer "C" admitted asking Walker questions without hearing anyone give the Miranda warning. Graham's logic: The accusation was against Officer "A," so he did not violate the policy... since it was Officer C who did the questioning.

The case made it through the IPR, Internal Affairs, and the CRC's January Case File Review before this issue was brought to light. Lt. Graham, while making efforts to be more friendly as a new member of the Community/Police Relations Committee, still seems as out of touch as he was when he worked at Internal Affairs. (Graham blamed his getting agitated at a CRC hearing on taking Sudafed [PPR #57] and cautioned CRC not to find officers dragging an elderly woman around "on the same level as Rodney King" [PPR #58].)

Interestingly, of the three officers involved, the only one who claimed he gave a Miranda warning was Officer "B" (Timothy H. Sessions), a trainee who in the interim has resigned from the Bureau.

As to the search, Walker says he heard Officer "C" (Jeffrey Cioeta #33930) rummaging through his furniture drawers, though the Bureau claims he was within policy to "look around" the house without a warrant to avoid an ambush.

Interestingly, the Bureau investigated the question about whether Officer A (Karl Klundt, #32398) was rude when he responded to Walker's complaints about the handcuffs by saying something like "they're not designed to be comfortable." Lt. Graham says the officer was just stating a fact. Although Klundt admitted to the statement, it was not clear whether the officer used a sarcastic or demeaning tone of voice. Also, they did not appear to have investigated whether the cuffs were put on too tight, which should have been treated as a force complaint. Walker says he sustained nerve damage, but confusion over the release of his medical records left CRC without enough information to go on. When questioned by CRC, Graham admitted Officer Klundt, as the supervising officer of Sessions putting the cuffs on, could bear some responsibility for the cuffing.

One odd aspect of this complaint is that after Washington County Deputies sent the Portland officers in to investigate, they ended up bringing Walker out to a Detox facility from inside his own home. (Detox is for people under the influence in public.)

In the end, CRC voted unanimously (5-0) to send the case back for more investigation, including looking into whether Officer Cioeta was in violation of policy when he questioned the appellant and whether the handcuffing was done improperly and caused injury.

The appellant in this case was aided by a National Lawyers Guild law student.

Case #2013-X-0004: Off-duty Officer Flashes Badge and Gun in Road Rage Incident Outside a Gym (follow up)

In our last issue, we reported on Case File Review #2013-x-0004, in which a man said an off-duty officer, after a "low-speed chase" outside a gym, flashed his badge and gun. The officer who appealed the "Unproven" finding in this incident, Sgt. James Simms (#22093), appeared at the January CRC meeting for the full hearing. Simms appealed the "Unproven" finding because it implied that maybe he did get into a road rage argument outside of the complainant's gym. There is no question Simms is a member of the same LA Fitness in Gresham. Though there is no record of his being at that gym in October, the appellant filed the complaint the following April and wasn't sure what month the incident occurred. There was no mention of asking whether other PPB officers attend that gym. There was no consideration that the complainant drove away, so it's possible Simms also took off without going inside. No evidence was produced to show what the officer was doing on the weekend in question.

Furthermore, the complainant was repeatedly interviewed by Internal Affairs, who made him doubt himself. It was used against the complainant, for instance, that he said the officer flashed a revolver at him when most cops, including Simms, carry semi-automatic pistols. One CRC member admitted she did not know the difference.

As noted previously, Simms had requested mediation, which would have removed the allegation and the outcome from his record. Because the complainant refused, the best he could do was ask CRC to change the finding to "Exonerated," which implies he was there and acting road-ragey but within Bureau policy. Former CRC member TJ Browning, acting as Appeals Process Advisor for Simms, raised the irrelevant fact that Simms had multiple commendations and no complaints on his record. That fact should have alerted CRC that his interest in keeping his record clean was his primary motive.

When it came time to deliberate, CRC member Theresa Baldwin reluctantly joined the 6-0 unanimous vote though she felt it was "unsatisfactory" to request an "Exonerated" finding. (Of course, letting the "Unproven" finding stand was one reasonable option.)

The good news is that the officer's concern about having an "Unproven" finding looking as if it means "Insufficient Evidence" (which, actually, it should) rather than "Unfounded" (which is what the Bureau meant-- that they believe no facts support the complaint) has led IPR and Internal Affairs to examine returning to the old system where those separate findings are available to decision-makers.

Case #2014-X-0001: Five Cops Use Force on Young Man of Color with Mental Health Issues

At the April meeting, CRC heard information on a case (#2014-X-0001) that alleges five officers used inappropriate force while arresting the appellant, [1] in the course of "hobbling" him (looping his feet together and tying that loop to his handcuffs) and [2] when Officer Jon Dalberg (#33528) punched him in the face.* It wasn't until CRC was about ready to vote on whether to hear the full appeal that the appellant's mother, Jeri Williams, a well known Native American activist in Portland, asked why there was no investigation on the thorough beating her son alleged. Williams said the hobbling wasn't the reason for the complaint, the beating was. A somewhat stunned CRC set the hearing in June anyway, knowing they can send it back for more investigation if needed.

A key piece of Williams' testimony was that her son was interviewed twice by IPR and seemed OK despite his Post Traumatic Stress; when the Bureau's Internal Affairs investigator called and began interrogating him, he hung up and stopped participating in the process. Fortunately a member of the DOJ was there to hear this concern-- which supports the ongoing demand to let IPR investigate complaints rather than turning them over to the police.

IPR's Quarterly Reports: Cracking the Transparency Window

Because individual cases (and names) involved in IPR complaints are mostly confidential, it's rare to learn what IPR is doing outside of CRC appeal hearings--which only happen 4-6 times per year. One exception is IPR's quarterly reports, four-page newsletters that are so condensed, the circumstances of the complaints are not always clear.

In the third quarter 2013 report, IPR highlighted a case in which a man was transported to Detox without handcuffs on, and was found to have a "small knife and possibly an alcoholic beverage." The officer who transported the man faced discipline after an investigation. IPR staff told PCW the case was reported by a third party-- which makes sense, because why would the man complain about not being cuffed?

A story in the fourth quarter newsletter says an officer accused an [African American] woman of "playing the race game (or card)" and no Disparate Treatment was found. The piece indicated Director Severe controverted the Bureau's non-sustained "Courtesy" finding, which led to that allegation being sustained. This means the officer was merely found rude, even though he brought up the issue of race. While it is encouraging that IPR is willing to push to get a sustained finding, it is frustrating that they seem to push racial profiling issues to the back burner (see, for instance, the cases of Floyd McCorvey and Lisa Haynes in PPRs #60-61).

Five New CRC Members Fill Out the Ranks as Occasional Outreach Locations Begin Again

On February 19, City Council appointed five new CRC members: Bridget Donegan (lawyer with business law firm), David Green (basketball business owner with corporate background), Mae Wilson (social worker), Jean Tuller (medicaid consultant who went to Harvard Business school) and James Young (former District Attorney/criminal defense attorney). So of the current 11 members, there are seven men and four women (up from five men/one woman), three non- white/mixed race and eight white/Caucasian (up from four white people and two people of color), and five lawyers (up from three).

Young talks in his application about seeing police officers who showed compassion, but others who falsified reports and/or used excessive force. This kind of balance makes an ideal CRC candidate.

In April CRC elected a new Chair (Rodney Paris) and Vice Chair (David Denecke) from a limited pool of choices, since 5 of the 11 members are new, two have been serving less than a year, and current Chair Jamie Troy stepped down although his term doesn't end until Feb. 2015.

For the March meeting, CRC made another try at moving their gatherings out into the community, something they used to do years ago but ended up just having the same groupies (like PCW members) follow them around the city. The meeting turned out to be a disappointment, with only three of the new members and seven CRC members total present. When Chair Troy asked if anyone had attended because it was in that neighborhood (rather than downtown), nobody raised a hand.

February marked the last meeting of Dr. Rochelle Silver, an outspoken member of CRC whose willingness to sometimes be the lone voice was praised by multiple people at the end of the meeting.
Other IPR/CRC Info:

--Chair Troy spoke convincingly at the DOJ Fairness Hearing about the group's concerns regarding the proposed 21-day appeal timeline and the "reasonable person" standard that forces them to defer to the Bureau when considering appeals. This resulted in Judge Simon including these issues in his 13 questions to the parties to the lawsuit, and concessions from the DOJ and the City (p. 1). Troy's appearance in court was significant because other City committees had been warned about giving testimony, while CRC was encouraged by Director Severe to speak out.

--At CRC's April meeting, the Training Advisory Committee (TAC)'s Tory Campbell and Suzanne Hayden spoke, part of an effort to communicate among the Bureau's advisory groups (p. 2). CRC member Jeff Bissonnette sits on both groups but hasn't been to TAC since August 2013.

--IPR Outreach Coordinator Irene Konev used to transmit comments heard while visiting community groups via the Director's monthly reports to CRC. Despite requests to do so again, no comments have been included since February, 2013. (In April, Severe agreed to add such comments back in after CRC asked.) Konev also told PCW that IPR would not send out emails letting interested parties know when paperwork for CRC meetings gets posted to the web. Nice outreach!

--CRC's Deadly Force and Crowd Control work groups cancelled their February meetings because of heavy snow and the Fairness Hearing, respectively. In January and March, the Deadly Force work group looked at the Force and "Satisfactory Performance" policies which the Bureau changed on December 13. The Crowd Control group continues hashing out recommendations to prepare its report.

Contact IPR at 503-823-0146

  People's Police Report

May, 2014
Also in PPR #62

Two PPB Shootings Result
  In Death And Injury

DOJ Lawsuit Recieves
  Community Input

Inadequate Changes To
  Oversight System Approved

Updates PPR 62
  • JTTF Report Raises Questions
  • Warentless Wiretaps Challenged
  • Secrecy at Training Council
CRC Expands to 11 Members;
  Hears 4 Cases

Stop And Frisk Comes to Portland
Prosper Portland's War
  on Homeless

Recent Rulings on
  Search and Seizure

Quick Flashes
  • Other Copwatching Groups
  • Two Cops Arrested
  • PPB Handcuffs Nine Year Old
Police Shootings Around Oregon

Rapping Back

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 #62 Table of Contents
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