People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Retired Sgt. Liani Reyna, the whistleblower cop whose complaint about an unfair Internal Affairs investigation was scuttled by the police oversight board last year (PPR #85), won a public records lawsuit against the City in May. The City had tried to prevent her from getting access to certain Internal Affairs records, claiming that using that information and other publicly available information, a person could discover the identities and/or histories of specific officers. Though the District Attorney agreed, the judge in the matter noted that the law does not prevent people from, well, putting two and two together.
However, in his ruling, the Judge advised the City to stop posting specific case numbers to the
internet if they wanted to avoid this kind of research being done in the future. Even though public
information requests are backed up by months and the PPB complains about being short-staffed,
within two weeks they had begun redacting Police Review Board Reports to remove PPB's case
numbers. Instead of, for example, 2020-C-0269, the case number about the officer who brutalized a
protestor with a "register to vote" sign is now labeled "Case #2." While we congratulate Sgt.
Reyna for cracking open the blue wall of silence in her case, the unfortunate side effect is a further
restriction on access to information.
Former Portland Officer Scott Groshong, who was charged criminally for ramming his police
vehicle into a suspected shoplifter in a June, 2020 incident (PPR #82), pleaded guilty to
assault and official misconduct (Portland Mercury blog, July 25). He is having his
certification to be a police officer revoked, will be on probation for three years and has to engage in
80 hours of community service. Apparently, the Multnomah County District Attorney turned the
case over to Marion County for prosecution, since the local DA works on a daily basis convicting
community members with the help of the Portland Police. Though the incident was caught on
video, Groshong failed to write about it in his police report (or to notify the DMV).
Forest Grove Officer Steven Teets, who tore down a community member's Black Lives Matter signs during a drunken rage in October 2020, was convicted of second degree criminal mischief and sentenced to 80 hours of community service and a $100 fine (Oregonlive, July 22).
Unfortunately, Teets does not seem to be facing charges for Tasering a man to death that same year
(PPR #84). Officer Brad Schuetz, who essentially covered
up Teets' drunken crime, was
found not guilty of official misconduct a few days earlier (Portland Tribuneonline, July
In July, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) finally released the 2021 annual traffic stop data report. The Oregonian ran a fairly comprehensive article on July 24 noting that (a) overall, traffic stops were down from nearly 25,000 to just over 14,000, (b) the percentage of white people stopped was its lowest ever, at 64%, and (c) the percentage of Black drivers asked to consent to a search is higher than most other races/ethnicities.
The report shows that 2.2% of Black drivers were asked to consent to a search (for Native Hawaiians, that was 3.9% but the pool was much smaller). Only 12.5% of the Black drivers refused a search while 20% of white drivers did.
The O also called out the BS from the PPB which Portland Copwatch (PCW) has noted for years: their insistence that crime victimization rates should be used as a benchmark rather than census data. Andomachi Tesloni, a professor on criminology, is quoted saying using data this way is "misleading on many counts... stop and search police activity is aimed at potential offenders [and] suspects, [not] potential victims."
At the presentation of the PPB's Annual Report virtually presented for East Precinct, Chief Lovell
again asserted that census data are not accurate because of all the people who drive in from
Vancouver, Gresham and other outlying areas each day. When PCW member Dan Handelman
asked a follow up question about whether the Chief would collect information on the addresses of
people stopped by police to prove this point, the moderator (Public Information Officer Kevin
Allen) left off the part of the question tying the collection of data to proving the PPB's race theory.
Actually, our headline here is just for fun-- in its August 10 issue, the Willamette Week revealed that the so-called "Brady List," names that the District Attorney is required to keep to reveal officers whose testimony may be questionable, only has three Portland Police officers on it. They are Andrew Caspar, who lied about telling people he wasn't chasing a suspect because of policies set by President Obama (PPR #84); Brian Hubbard, who was convicted of DUII in 2009; and John Shadron, who also was guilty of driving while impaired (PPR #54).
The "Brady List" is normally just about officers accused of untruthfulness. The DA's list is called
the "Potential Impeachment Disclosure index." Not on the list is Sgt. Erin Smith, who lied to
a community member, claiming it was illegal to record police and was found out of policy by the
Citizen Review Committee (PPR #80). The Chief changed Smith's allegation to a
performance issue, and Smith retired in 2020.
In late May, the Portland Police attempted
to push an item through at City Council that would grant
$25,000 bonuses to officers transferring in from other agencies as an incentive to join the Bureau.
The catch? There was nothing preventing the officers from signing up, joining the PPB, and
walking away with the money once they pocketed it. Portland Copwatch (PCW) members'
testimony helped prompt City Council to ask questions, which in turn led Mayor Ted Wheeler to
delay the item while more work was done on it. When it came back to Council on June 29, a new
provision required these officers to return all the money if they left within a year, $20,000 if they
left within two years, and so on. While a minor victory, these are the kinds of things PCW
constantly monitors to at least mitigate the worst possible outcomes.
The annual memorial for Keaton Otis,
who was shot by Portland Police in May 2010 (PPR
#51), was held as an online/in person hybrid event on May 12. This year featured more
recollections about Keaton's life. The video is available at tinyurl.com/KO12years. In July, work
began on a permanent memorial at NE 6th and Halsey, where Keaton was killed.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.