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Report: Chief Overrides Review Board to Find
Two Cops Used Improper Force at Protests
Shady Officer Leaves Force After Anti-Trans Comments

In September, the Police Bureau released the second Police Review Board (PRB) Report of 2021.The PRB meets in secret, includes only one community member in a five-person review board (two of seven for serious cases), and may recommend disciplinary action to the Chief. Thirteen cases were covered, including one where an officer "disobeyed a direct order to leave a location," but agreed to take one day off without pay and bypass the PRB as "stipulated discipline." The reviews of shootings where Koben Henriksen died and Gray Stockton was not injured both ignore that they were in mental health crisis (see the Shootings article in this issue). However, as Portland Copwatch pointed out in its "scoop" analysis (published before media reports), the documents reveal Chief Chuck Lovell overrode the Board's findings in two protest cases and found officers misused force. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) had called out both cases in its critique of the PRB. Below is info on the 10 non-shooting cases in the Report.

--Detective Jeff Myers, whom Portland Copwatch called out many years ago for starting a "dirty [image of Oregonian article]thirty" list of people arrested multiple times and destroying a community garden used by houseless people (PPR #31), retired before being given a week off without pay for making derogatory comments about a transgender community member while talking to recruits. An October 30 Oregonian article reveals Myers referred to a trans person as "it," which the PRB Report simply said was a "term not normally used to refer to people." Myers also said something about his substantial salary and how if people were going to be cut from the Bureau, the recruits would be the first to go. The Board voted to Sustain the first allegation as a violation of the Discrimination policy and the second as a violation of Conduct on 5-0 votes.

--During a June, 2020 protest, officers tried to take two people into custody. They "fled" toward the general direction of the Justice Center. Officer #1 fired a "less lethal" round at one person, which may have missed its target. Four Board members found the allegation about using force when the person was not engaged in active aggression should be "Not Sustained with a Debriefing," meaning there was not enough evidence to prove or disprove the allegation. The Board said because of the "unprecedented" ongoing protests and the "attempts to harm police," the force was a justifiable effort to "contain criminal acts"-- a strange commentary if they believed there wasn't enough evidence. The other three Board members wanted to Sustain the allegation, noting the people were unarmed, posed no direct threat and were about half a mile away from the Justice Center. The cover memo says Chief Lovell imposed a Letter of Reprimand on the officer, therefore he must have agreed with the minority's proposed finding.

--At an August 2020 protest, the Rapid Response Team confronted protestors outside the Portland Police Association's then-headquarters in North Portland. An officer fired a "less lethal" round and hit the wrong person, apparently in the arm. Four Board members found the officer's action within policy (Exonerated) but wanted to add a debriefing about readjusting their aim to hit the right person. They emphasized that the intended subject was "aggressive" because they had thrown eggs at police. One person recommended "Not Sustained with a debrief." Two people thought the allegations should have been Sustained, noting the person who was hit was at worst passively resisting and not posing a threat. They made the important observation that hitting a person who legally should not be subjected to force is not allowed since the policy doesn't address officer intent. Chief Lovell must have agreed with these two, as he imposed a Letter of Reprimand on the officer.

--In a third protest case (date unknown), an officer pulled down a protestor's gas mask to spray them with a chemical irritant. Six PRB members heard this case, rather than five or seven. Five thought the officer acted reasonably based on the circumstances. They said the civilian engaged in active resistance by not obeying the officer, pushing at them and grabbing their baton. While pulling off a gas mask is not part of police training, they claim it prevented the need for a higher level of force. It's alarming they paid no attention to these protests occurring in the middle of a pandemic that attacks the respiratory system. The other member said it should be "Not Sustained" because the officer wasn't trained to take the gas mask off, but it was a reasonable way to be sure the pepper spray would work. Deputy Chief Davis agreed with the Exonerated finding.

[image of Oregonian article]--An officer witnessed another officer pour out a soda onto the passenger seat during a warrant- related vehicle search. The offending officer claimed it was an accident and they put the cup back in the cup-holder, but that was disproven by evidence. Four of five PRB members voted to find that the pouring of soda violated the Laws, Rules and Orders and Conduct Directives, and that the officer was untruthful during the administrative investigation by claiming the action was unintentional. Untruthfulness is supposed to lead to firing the officer. Deputy Chief Davis changed both findings to Not Sustained with a Debrief; the Report does not explain why.

The other five incidents involved: "Officer #1" who got into a "verbal disturbance" with a civilian and fellow cop (two weeks off without pay); an officer who crashed into another cop car when sort- of chasing a suspect (one day off without pay); a cop who failed to report throwing a bicyclist to the ground (Letter of Reprimand); an officer who failed to write a Domestic Violence report (Command Counseling), and an officer who interjected themselves into a civil commitment hearing involving someone who confronted their spouse (no misconduct found).

Overall, the Board reviewed 28 allegations and found 10 Sustained (Davis reversed two of these), 13 Exonerated/In Policy (Lovell Sustained one), and five Not Sustained (again, Lovell Sustained one). This is a relatively low rate, since most cases are sent to the Board in the first place because either the officer's commander or another reviewing body thinks there should be a Sustained finding.

As usual, multiple cases (five this time) in which civilians were involved, including the shootings, were handled as "B" (Bureau-only) cases. This strips community members of the ability to file an appeal. City Code guiding the "Independent" Police Review process says cases involving community members should be treated as "C" cases.

The Bureau still does not include the genders of any of the people involved, Precinct information, or other locations with few exceptions. While it is important that the public keep receiving this information, the Bureau should be more generous in doling out details, given the ability of officers to abridge liberties, use violence, and take lives.

Find the PRB Report at: portlandoregon.gov/police/55365.
PCW's analysis is at portlandcopwatch.org/PRBanalysis0921.html.

  [People's Police Report]

January, 2022
Also in PPR #85

2021 Portland Police Shootings Quadruple 2020
  • State Deadly Force Incidents Taper Off in Second Half of 2021
City, DOJ Hash Out Remedies for Failed Compliance
Council Votes to "Re-fund the Police"
Lawsuits: City Pays Out More for Protest Actions
Citizen Committee Punts Whistleblower Case
Commission to Design Oversight Board Meets
Chief Overrides Review Board to Punish Two Cops
Houseless Community Faces More Private Security
Force Data Ignores Race at Training Council
Sheriff's Last 12 Months Start w/Vax Card Scandal
Organizers Set for Testimony on Terror Task Force
Bureau Agrees with Copwatch on One Policy
Updates PPR #85:
 • Almost No Progress on Police Association Contract
 • Suit: Former Police Assoc. Head Leaked Unconfirmed Info
 • Revamped Gun Team Forming; Profiling Numbers Unchanged
Rapping Back #85

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.

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