People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
Identities of Two of Three Officers Disciplined
On May, the Portland Police Bureau published the first of two semi-annual reports on its Police Review Board (PRB) required by City Code. While most Reports cover half a dozen or more cases and run dozens of pages, the May Report only includes three cases. There were 17 shootings in 2021 and 2022. Only four have previously gone through the PRB process, but none were included here. For some reason, the Bureau began redacting the dates that the hearings were held-- including the years. However, it is clear from context (including the locations) that two of the cases were about protest actions in 2020, one of which involved Officer Brent Taylor firing a "less lethal" weapon in violation of a restraining order (PPR #81). The third was about Commander Erica Hurley expressing her opposition to public officials at two neighborhood meetings in early 2021 (PPR #83). The PRB is internal to the police, includes a majority of police officers, and does not allow any member of the media nor the people harmed by police (or their survivors) to attend hearings. PRB members who find wrongdoing make disciplinary recommendations.
First Case: Pushing A Protestor
In the first case, an officer used their "less-lethal" weapon to push a protestor down on North Mississippi. The officer's supervisor found no wrongdoing, but both Internal Affairs and the "Independent" Police Review (IPR) disagreed. The push knocked the person off their feet, leading to a knee injury. The case was heard by a seven-member board, and a majority (four people) agreed there was no misconduct. The majority made comments such as the protestor "chose not to leave" after a dispersal order and had been "actively aggressive" in the time leading up to the incident. Strangely, they said the officer de-escalated the situation by threatening to use pepper spray and called the injury "unfortunate." The two members who voted to "sustain" the complaint (find it out of policy) said that video showed the person was not posing a threat when the force was used.
The two people finding the officer out of policy recommended a Letter of Reprimand. In a welcome surprise, the Chief went with this 29% vote, finding a violation of policy and issuing the Letter.
Second Protest Case: Officer Taylor Violates Court Order
The other protest incident was written about in the media, after a ruling was made that Officer Taylor firing a "less-lethal" weapon 15 times violated a judge's order not to do so. That order was given on June 26, 2020. The incident at North Lombard and Denver took place four days later. Some Board members pointed to this short turnaround time to excuse why Taylor may have violated the order.
Four of seven members voted to sustain each of four findings: that the officer used excessive force by firing first five, then ten rounds, and that each of those deployments violated the judge's order. The four person majority found there was no active aggression at the time Taylor fired the first time. In fact, he escalated the situation by grabbing the protestors' banner and getting into a tug of war with them, making the scene "chaotic." The same four said there was no active aggression either, shown on a video, when people tried to help up a person on roller skates.
The three others wanted to "exonerate" Taylor (find him in policy) on both weapons use charges. They said he acted within training and policy, and that the judge's order had not been delivered via formal training. In both cases, one of these three wanted the finding on violating the order to be "Not Sustained" (insufficient evidence).
Of the four finding Taylor violated policy, two wanted him to get one day off without pay, mitigated because of his training. One person wanted two days off because of the multiple violations. A third wanted a Letter of Reprimand because Taylor supposedly followed training. Chief Lovell imposed Command Counseling, a far lower level of discipline than the two days off and even lower than the Letter of Reprimand.
Commander's Tirade Against District Attorney Gets Minimal Correction
Commander Hurley's appearance at the Lents Neighborhood Livability Association (LNLA) meetings was also documented in the media. It's not clear why only her comments about District Attorney Mike Schmidt were under scrutiny, as she also encouraged the attendees to blame Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty for her policy-making. Maybe it's just more white supremacy as Hardesty is Black and Schmidt is white. In any case, the public previously heard about this case that (a) IPR Director Ross Caldwell did not think it was worth investigating because police routinely make such comments, and (b) that the State had fined Hurley $225 for violating elections laws by advocating about a candidate as a public official.
The vote by the PRB was 4-0, but five recommended discipline: four wanted Command Counseling and one the slightly more meaningful Letter of Reprimand. Their logic was that a judge had ruled she violated the statute, and she paid the fine, so she had violated the policy. Nothing was made of the fact that Hurley was in uniform delivering these remarks, which should also have led to a violation of 313.20 which says officers can't conduct political advocacy in an official capacity. Deputy Chief Mike Frome chose Command Counseling as Hurley's corrective action.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.