People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
There are times when examining Portland Police accountability issues makes one feel like Alice Through the Looking Glass. In a few weeks' time, the City of Portland re-promoted Captain Todd Wyatt, who was found to have engaged in road rage and inappropriately touched female subordinates (PPR #59), and then wiped clean the record of Captain Mark Kruger. Kruger had been found out of policy for nailing up a plaque honoring Nazi-era German soldiers (PPR #52), but more recently was disciplined for retaliating against a female subordinate. To make matters worse, Kruger received a $5000 financial settlement and had his reprimands replaced with a letter of commendation, in a deal signed off by the Police Commissioner, Mayor Charlie Hales. The woman in the Kruger case, Kristy Galvan, was a Lieutenant under Kruger who accused him of workplace harassment (she was one of the cops who investigated the plaque). When he was cleared of that charge, he pinned up the determination letter and wrote her name on it in red ink. That action led to a letter of reprimand for retaliation. Galvan, meanwhile, resigned and sued the City for how Kruger treated her (PPR #59), and they settled with her for $50,000 on July 16.
It was that same day the Oregonian broke the news of the Kruger deal. It was negotiated by an outside attorney because City Attorney Tracy Reeve had helped Kruger hide the memorial plaque during a lawsuit against the cops stemming from his brutality at a protest in 2003 (PPR #34). The award amount of $5000 was clearly no accident-- one penny more and it would have triggered automatic review by City Council. Kruger was also given vacation time pay to reimburse him for the 80 hours' suspension from the Nazi plaque discipline. Other members of Council and the community expressed their outrage at the deal. This prompted Mayor Hales to support the anger as "right and just" but claim he had to sign the "distasteful decision" in the best interests of the City... while also saying he wasn't aware of all the terms included in the settlement (Oregonian, July 18).
For what it's worth, the decision to re-promote Wyatt was not made by the City willingly; an arbitrator who heard Wyatt's appeal agreed that he'd violated Bureau policies in the road rage and inappropriate touching cases, but felt that the demotion caused him embarrassment. Never mind that leaving a person with such bad judgment in a high-ranking position makes no sense from a managerial viewpoint, especially given the powers of police officers. Oregonian columnist Steve Duin savagely attacked the decision, outlining tidbits from the arbitration including Captain Chris Davis (formerly of Internal Affairs) saying that Wyatt flashing his gun did not constitute use of force because he didn't point it at the other driver he was challenging (Oregonlive, June 16).
Kruger also made the news for threatening to give an "unfavorable recommendation" to strip joint Club Rouge, because the man who dressed in Nazi uniforms for re-enactments said the business "is not of good repute and moral character" (Willamette Week, July 2).
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In June, US District Court Judge Garr King denied Mohamed Mohamud's appeal of his conviction for "terrorism," affirming the legality of the US government's bulk data collection under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Defense attorneys argued the program violated his constitutional rights but the judge disagreed. Mohamud was convicted last year of attempting to bomb Portland's 2010 holiday tree lighting. The FBI recruited Mohamud and provided a fake bomb (PPR #52).
As this was the first legal challenge to the government's bulk data collection program, it was being monitored closely by civil liberties groups, who were disappointed in the outcome.
The prosecution used information collected in emails that Mohamud sent to two US citizens who were terror suspects. They were killed in drone strikes in 2011. The emails were kept from the defense. Judge King stated "I realize the difficult position the defense team is in, but the denial of a hearing is commonplace in the FISA context" (Associated Press, June 24).
As a result of this travesty of justice, Mohamud will be sentenced on October 1 (Oregonian, July 4).
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After a four month long, 22 mile daily commute to a farm in Aurora, the horses of the Portland Police Bureau Mounted Patrol Unit (also known as the Cossacks) are back at Centennial Mill just north of downtown. The move was necessitated by structural problems. The Mounted Patrol is funded for this fiscal year at approximately $863,000, of which $200,000 was contributed by Friends of the Mounted Patrol (Portland Tribune, June 17), a private group led by a local developer who's also a reserve cop (PPR #60).
The Oregonian has run several Cinderella stories about a horse named Murphy. He was purchased in December 2012 off of Craigslist and trained to join the MPU. After losing enough weight to fit a saddle on him, Murphy became a member of the Unit. On June 26, Oregonlive's headline read: "Portland police horse collars his first bad guy." According to Officer Cassandra Wells, who was riding Murphy, "we were flagged down because someone was trying to break into a building. He took off and so did we." After running six blocks, Murphy "cornered the suspect and kept him trapped next to a building until cops could slip cuffs on him." No mention if the so-called "bad guy" (hmm, what happened to innocent until proven guilty?) was stepped on, was paralyzed in fear of the giant beast, or could have been caught by a mere two-legged human.
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Thirty-one of Oregon's 36 county sheriffs agreed to stop holding people whose immigration status is questioned by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents (ICE). The changes followed an April 6 ruling by a judge in Clackamas County, who found that Miranda Olivares had her rights violated when the Sheriff there held her without bail so she could be turned over to ICE. Even though Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton had made (but not fulfilled) pledges to temper his use of ICE holds (PPR #61), the court ruling led him to stop participating in the process (Waging Nonviolence, June 25).
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.