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Officers Who Beat Teen Not Disciplined and Other Revelations from the Police Review Board Report

On February 16, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) released the semi-annual Police Review Board (PRB) report, revealing, among other things, that officers who beat and tased teen Thai Gurule in 2014 (PPR #65) were not disciplined. Worse, the Board only reviewed one question-- if the stop was within policy-- and never considered the use of force. Four officers involved in outrageous conduct were to be fired, but three resigned or retired before that happened. A fourth resigned facing 40 hours' time off. The secretive PRB deliberates whether officers violated policy and recommends discipline, including in deadly force cases (also see-p. 6). Only one of a 16- member civilian pool sits at a hearing, with one Citizen Review Committee (CRC) member joining in force cases. Other voting members are 3-4 cops and a staff person from the "Independent" Police Review Division (IPR). The Reports have improved, but still block out items such as name, gender and precinct information.

The report covers 11 cases heard over six months. Only seven officers under scrutiny faced or received discipline. Officer Jeromie Palaoro resigned, facing termination for responding to an incident, later calling the survivor, then returning to her hotel room and placing his gun in view while having her engage in a massage and "other physical contact." The PRB found Palaoro displayed "egregious behavior towards a potential Domestic Violence victim" and sustained five allegations. The Board recognized Palaoro's gun "created a power differential" so the woman felt she was forced to comply. About the other three who faced firing: One came back to a friend's house making threats after an off-duty poker game, one blew a .08 Breathalyzer test on duty, and one falsified timecards, adding 1-2 hours a day for two months. Two other officers got Command Counseling and a female officer received 40 hours suspension for revealing confidential information, failing to report being on prescription meds, and failing to show up at work. Four findings were moved from "Not Sustained" (insufficient evidence) to "Sustained" by the Chief-- one after CRC heard a videographer's appeal of Officer Scott Groshong grabbing his camcorder (PPR #69). Groshong was counseled.

A new issue came up: when someone challenges (controverts) findings by the officer's supervisor, the PRB only considers controverted allegations. Thus, the Board is not considering "the totality of the circumstances."

The Report covers 34 allegations. 22 were "Sustained," 9 were "Exonerated/In Policy," and 3 were "Not Sustained." 12 "Sustained" findings were in Bureau-only cases (no civilians involved). As noted before, the sustain rate seems high (65%) because any sustained case that could lead to discipline automatically gets sent to the PRB (as in five cases this time). Others came because IPR, Professional Standards, both, or an Assistant Chief controverted the original finding.

In Gurule's case, no misconduct was found even though a judge called Officer Betsy Hornstein's testimony "not credible" and questioned why police stopped the teen. The finding on the stop was "Not Sustained with a Debrief" meaning Officer #1 (either Hornstein or David Hughes) was talked to about "the tactics of de-escalation." Perhaps when Gurule's family accepted a settlement last November (PPR #70) they agreed not to appeal the findings. The IPR controverted the Bureau's "Not Sustained" finding on the stop, leading to the PRB hearing, but the finding was affirmed 4-1. A 7-member board should have met since Hornstein, a trained Crisis Intervention Team officer, kicked and hit Gurule, and Sgt. Jason Lile tripped him, pulled his hair, and used a Taser on him.

On February 29, Council re-appointed three civilian members to the PRB. The 16-member pool now includes 10 females and 6 males, including 8 attorneys.

PCW's full analysis is at portlandcopwatch.org/PRBanalys is0117.html.

  People's Police Report

May, 2017
Also in PPR #71

Police Kill Black Teen,
  Wound White Man Same Day

  Oregon Police: 31 Shootings 2016-17
City Disbands DOJ Oversight Body
Council Hears Rare Misconduct Appeal
Changes Made to Oversight System
Protests Met with Violence or Hugs
Newspaper Shows Profiling Widespread
Survey: People of Color Fear Profiling
Problems Plague Jail, Sheriff
Training Council Focuses on Tasers
PRB Report: Officer Not Disciplined
Police Absent in Houseless Debate
PPB Asks for Policy Input Again
City, County and ICE
Quick Flashes PPR 71
  • Trooper Slaps Son, Loses Job
  • Chief, Aide Put on Leave
  • Civilian Kills Homeless Man, No Charges
  • Law Will Exclude People from Meetings
Updates PPR 71
  • Mohammed Mohamud's Appeal Denied
Rapping Back #71

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 #71 Table of Contents
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