People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Police Review Board Report Shows Amazing Misconduct, Mixed Discipline, Little About Shootings
July 2015's Police Review Board (PRB) report includes an astounding range of misconduct, and leaves the impression that while some of the application of discipline was appropriate, others seemed to minimize very serious matters. For example, Officer Alfonso Valadez, Jr. created a "tough guy cop" YouTube video using footage from an investigation into whether he committed misconduct by pushing a person in the Detox center, but only got a slap on the wrist. There are still many details-- including the gender of the officers involved-- which are not being included in the reports. The report covered 17 incidents, including the shootings of Paul Ropp and DeNorris McClendon, and possibly one connected to the shooting of Kelly Swoboda (see article). One case deals with the use of a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) stop as a use of deadly force from December 18, 2013.
Valadez's video was credited to "Ghetto Entertainment." The PRB noted the person in Detox had his/her privacy and medical information compromised, yet though a civilian was involved, the issue was investigated as a "Bureau only" case. On July 28, the Oregonian reported that the 10 hours time off the PRB report shows Valadez received was reduced to a letter of reprimand. The reduction was probably in part because the Board wrote off the potentially criminal video as "youthful poor judgment," noting Valadez had five commendations and no prior offenses. The big question, though, is why the PRB report reflects the wrong discipline when City Code requires the final discipline to be listed.
The report also includes two incidents with Officer Homero Reynaga, who vandalized his neighbor's car, didn't notify his supervisor of his arrest, failed to report for duty and consumed alcohol while on probation on December 31, 2013. Reynaga was also investigated by the Bureau for unprofessional behavior (passed out drunk in the back of a taxi) and for violating the same probation a month earlier on December 1. The recommendation he be terminated was made moot when Reynaga resigned. (Another officer flagged for termination-- for failing to show up in court and falsifying time sheets-- also resigned.)
In one case, use of force was found out of policy-- a mixed Bureau/Community complaint in which an officer punched a suspect in the face, knocking a tooth loose, even though another officer had the person in custody. The connected Bureau case involved the same officer continuing a chase after the Sergeant in charge called it off, not using lights or sirens, and ending up having a head-on collision with another cop car. Yet the Review Board only suggested the officer receive a "Letter of Expectation" for these two egregious incidents. Fortunately, the Chief went for 10 hours suspension without pay.
Out of 50 allegations, 34 were found "Sustained" or "Out of Policy." Interestingly, one of those findings was attached to the PIT stop deadly force case, but had to do with a supervisor who failed to adequately communicate during the pursuit. All other allegations in deadly force incidents were found "In Policy."
Other cases included:
--An officer at a High School football game who inserted him/herself into a fight, restrained one of the participants, and identified as an officer, resulting in 10 hours' suspension without pay.
--An officer who failed to properly investigate a possible robbery received 40 hours suspension without pay.
--Another officer who failed to conduct an investigation into one teen molested by another, blaming the probable crime on "raging hormones," was given 40 hours suspension without pay.
--An officer turned him/herself in for violating a communication order barring cops involved in an incident under investigation from speaking to one another about the case; Chief O'Dea, decided to suspend the officer for 120 hours because he felt the PRB was too lenient in recommending 40 or 80 hours off.
We asked the Public Information Officer and the PRB Coordinator both to send out a news release when the PRB report was posted on the web, which once again did not happen. Because the PRB's work is done behind closed doors, these reports are the main insight the community has into the discipline process. The 20 or so community members who act as the "pool" to sit on the PRB never hold public meetings and are not called to report to City Council. We hope to see all of these ideas instituted to create a more community-oriented process.
These reports are still labelled "Performance Review Board" though that body was absorbed into the current Police Review Board structure in 2010.
In July, the Independent Police Review Division Director reported that the PRB sent back the case of Ryan Sudlow, who was shot at but not hit by a police officer in a gas station earlier this year (PPR #65), for more investigation. While the Bureau's protocols require Internal Affairs to complete such a re-investigation, the PRB ordinance does not (though the Department of Justice Agreement requires such a mandate).
See our full analysis at http://www.portlandcopwatch.org
See our full analysis at http://www.portlandcopwatch.org /PRBanalysis0715.html.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.