People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
In early October, Chief Mike Reese announced his plan to retire from the Bureau in January 2015. Rather than seek broad community input, Mayor Charlie Hales immediately named Larry O'Dea, one of Reese's three Assistant Chiefs, to take over. O'Dea has been a dedicated member of the Community/Police Relations Committee (CPRC) and helped usher in the Bureau's institutional racism training. However, when Portland Copwatch (PCW) member Dan Handelman recently tried asking him about an incident in January 1988, when he was a rookie, in which he shot at a black man driving a car, O'Dea had nothing to say. Current policy restricts firing at a moving car, especially putting oneself in the path of the car and then using that as a reason to fire, which may be what happened (though a 1992 Bureau report says the suspect accelerated toward O'Dea when he stopped the car because it was stolen). Even though shootings of African American men have caused enough controversy that the CPRC has taken time to talk about several such incidents, O'Dea declined to use the occasion of his ascension to clear the air. PCW has set a meeting with the new Chief for early 2015 to discuss our various concerns about accountability, as we have done with all the Chiefs since we started in 1992 (see, for example, PPRs #21 and 40).
The 2011 incident in which three Portland officers were captured on surveillance video beating Jason Cox, 27, led to the largest ever use of force jury verdict against the City: $562,129. As noted in PPR #59, Officers Jeffrey Elias, Robert Bruders and Sarah Kerwin punched and tasered Cox after a traffic stop, claiming he was resisting. Based on the video evidence showing that claim to be false, the jury found the officers committed battery. The Oregonian reports that the "Independent" Police Review Division found no policy violations when reviewing Cox's complaint, but could take another look based on the civil trial (October 8).
Although most every person in Portland protesting against the decisions of Grand Juries in Ferguson, MO and Staten Island, NY was peaceful, Portland Police used violence--including batons, pepper spray, horses and bicycles (all noted by Portland Copwatch as unacceptable) as well as "flash-bangs" tossed during one march (a new and dangerous tactic). The largest action began with the cops standing back while the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform took about 2500 people through the streets during rush hour on Nov. 25, the day after the Grand Jury failed to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown case. Several breakaway marches that night were attacked by police, who seemed to think blocking roads is somehow an act of violence. (Police in Nashville, TN allowed protestors to block the freeway, bringing demonstrators hot chocolate and reminding drivers they are often stopped by traffic jams.) On Nov. 29, police surrounded protestors they said were all under arrest, but only took ten into custody. The DA refused to press charges. Protests continued for weeks, re-activated on Dec. 3 after the NY jury did not indict the officer who killed Eric Garner in a choke hold.
Three Portland cops are under investigation for using their badges on Facebook posts saying "I am Darren Wilson."
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.