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Portland Police Violence Costs the City Another
$371,000, Plus Legal Fees of Over $750,000
Three New Cases Include Largest Amount for a Single
Protestor in 2020; PCW Updates Its Top 25 List

As of November, the City had paid out at least $1,787,384.22 for police violence at the 2020 racial justice protests just in 2023. Since our last issue, three settlements came before City Council accounting for $371,000 of the total. With the addition of legal fees paid to the attorneys who litigated the $250,000+ Don't Shoot Portland lawsuit (PPR #88), the overall amount paid for [<i>Portland Tribune</i> Nov 15 article]protests from 2018-2020 is now at least $2,702,316.22. At least one of these made the top 25 settlements list kept by Portland Copwatch (PCW), with another to be added in 2024. PCW testified on each of the three cases that appeared before Council: $25,000 to Dexter Pearce, $46,000 to Philipp Hoffmann and $300,000 to Michael Weisdorf.

Pearce, a Black attorney born and raised in Portland, was shot in the calf with a 40 mm rubber bullet while peacefully protesting and walking away from officers on July 4, 2020. His lawsuit named four Mobile Field Force officers and the incident commander, Craig Dobson. Since he was unable to prove which officer shot him, the City Attorney attempted to have the case dismissed. The judge rejected the City's opinion, saying that even if you can't say which PPB officer shot you, you still deserve to be compensated for injuries. Pearce and his attorney, Juan Chavez, both testified on September 6. Chavez said "It's my hope that you extend your apology to [my client] for what the Bureau did to him." Pearce stated in his testimony that he was 13 years old at his first protest in 2003 after Kendra James was killed by PPB (PPR #30). He talked about the killings of James Jahar Perez, Aaron Campbell, Quanice "Moose" Hayes and Patrick Kimmons stating that "these are just the names that I remember from growing up and living in Portland." He ended his powerful testimony by saying "This settlement may end my case today depending on how you vote, but the city has so much more work to do. And unfortunately, I have zero faith in your ability to do that." And with that, it went to a vote: four in favor, one absent, zero apologies.

Hoffmann's settlement came before Council on October 18 for "injury as a result of use of force" (as described by a Deputy City Attorney) in which two cops tackled him, slammed him to a curb, and crushed him by bearing their weight down, injuring his shoulder. Hoffmann was complying with orders to disperse while attending a protest outside the old Portland Police Association (PPA) building in North Portland on August 24, 2020. This item was posted to the Consent Agenda, the amount being just $4,000 below the $50,000 limit for inclusion on the Regular Agenda. PCW pulled it for discussion. No word on whether either of the unnamed cops were disciplined. After two PCW members testified, an annoyed Commissioner Gonzalez acknowledged the need for transparency while saying we need to remember "the immense damage done to our city by the riots in 2020." He stated the protests and their aftermath made it difficult to recruit cops (which is demonstrably not true) and that the community is under-policed (depends which community you live in). As usual, Council got the last word.

Weisdorf had his settlement approved by Council on November 1 for his "encounter" with PPB on July 18, 2020. He was nonviolently protesting against police brutality and racism near PPA's old building. PPB declared a riot and ordered people to disperse. Court records show Weisdorf cleared the area as directed. He traveled several blocks before PPB officers knocked him to the ground multiple times. This caused injuries, including two fractures to his left arm which required surgery and metal surgical hardware. There was no attempt to arrest or detain him. Once again, it is unclear whether any officers were disciplined for this behavior, nor which cops were responsible. This settlement is the largest payout to a single person for police brutality at a protest since 2018. It is possible the attorneys on both sides of the lawsuit played into the size of the payout. Jason Kafoury, whose work led to a November jury award for $3 million in an excessive force case against Salem Police, represented Weisdorf. The City was represented by a private lawyer, Karen O'Kasey. O'Kasey told Council that Weisdorf "fell" and was injured. Weisdorf was quoted on Oregonlive (October 31) saying: "My experience really made real for me the issues that we were protesting in the first place-- the overly quick resort to force we've seen in the Portland Police Bureau. The sworn officers we trust to enforce the law should not have impunity to violate that same law."

PCW's top 25 list includes settlements, judgments and jury awards dating back to 1992 (the year we were formed). The Don't Shoot Portland settlement would have made the top 25 on its own, but including attorneys' fees and costs of $784,326, came to $1,034,332.22 and made it to the #5 overall spot. The $15.7 million total for just these 25 cases does not include another $6.4 million paid out to over 450 other people from 1993-2023. With an average of roughly $726,000 per year, the City could have been paying for several civilian investigators to staff an independent police review board like the one that should be going into place soon (see oversight article).

To see the top 25 list go to portlandcopwatch.org/top25settlements23.html.

Police "Union" Pays Former Commissioner Hardesty
$680,000 for False Claim of Hit- and-Run

[OPB Sept 21 article]In September, former City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty accepted a $680,000 settlement offer from the Portland Police Association (PPA) for the actions of former President Brian Hunzeker inappropriately releasing her name to the media as a criminal suspect. Another woman was identified as the person involved in the hit-and-run blamed on Hardesty (PPR #83). Current PPA President Aaron Schmautz called the settlement, made just days before the case would have gone to court, "a business decision" (Oregon Public Broadcasting, September 21). Conveniently, this meant a jury did not get to ponder whether the actions taken by Hunzeker and two other law enforcement employees involved racial bias. Hardesty also had sued the City for $1 but was awarded a $5000 settlement along with an apology from Mayor Ted Wheeler.
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  [People's Police Report]

January, 2024
Also in PPR #91

Community Oversight Plan Dismantled by City
DOJ Agreement 1/2 Terminated, Court Monitor OKd
Police Violence Costs the City Another $371,000+
 • "Union" Pays Former Commissioner $680K for False Claims
PPB Kills Third Person in 2023
 • Man in Mental Health Crisis Dies in Milwaukie Cops' Custody
State Police Deadly Force Down from 42 to 30+
 • More News: D.Clark, DEA/Qualified Immunity, CW Graphic
Review Committee Loses Five Members, Gains One
IPR Annual Report Adds Some Detail, Omits Others
Criminalization of Homelessness on Hold
Medford Police Continue Spying on Activists
 • Mohammed Mohamud Loses Appeal Bid
Chief Lovell Steps Down, Bob Day Takes Over
Deputies Indicted: Jail Deaths, Off-Duty Fight
Profiling Data Discussed at Two Public Meetings
Training Council Delays Force Data Presentations
Car Crashes Spotlit in Comments on Police Policies
State Discipline Rules Updated at Iffy Meetings
Still No Deadly Force in Review Board Report
Updates PPR #91:
 • Council Approves Body Cameras as Pilot Ends Without Data
 • Drone Use Slowly Creeping Up Month by Month

Rapping Back #91

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 #91 Table of Contents
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