Lawsuits Alleging Portland Police Misconduct

Posted on behalf of Rizk Law on Jul 16, 2018 in Civil Rights

States Constitution gives you the right to peacefully assemble and the right to free speech. However, many people who come together to exercise such rights in Portland have been seriously injured by police officers responding to protests. The American Civil Liberties Association (ACLU) has filed lawsuits against the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) on behalf of six victims of police brutality during protests ranging from October 2016 to June 2017. This is in addition to other complaints and lawsuits filed against the PPB following protest injuries, including one by a 35-year-old man who was arrested and then later acquitted of his charges at a jury trial.

The lawsuits allege that police officers used excessive force against protesters, as well as unconstitutionally arrested protesters without probable cause. The following are some specifics about the various allegations in the claims:

  • A 55-year-old woman who was on the sidewalk and was not part of a protest was struck twice with a baton by an officer.
  • A 31-year-old woman was choked and held down in an alley while being taunted by officers.
  • A 39-year-old man was complying with orders to move to the sidewalk when officers tackled him, dragged him back into the street, and arrested him.
  • An officer hit a 27-year-old man several times with a bicycle. The victim was later pepper sprayed while he was kneeling with his hands behind his back.
  • A 67-year-old woman suffered a broken nose when an officer pushed his knee into the back of her head while she was on the ground.
  • A clearly identifiable ACLU legal observer was shot in the leg with impact munition as she walked away from a protest.
  • Officers gathered and arrested hundreds of people for disorderly conduct without the necessary probable cause.

The outcomes of the lawsuits against the PPB are not yet certain, but victims are seeking from $10,000 to $200,000 for their injury-related losses and rights violations.

Independent Police Review Finds Policy Flaws

In light of the lawsuits, Portland’s Independent Police Review (IPR) conducted an investigation into police responses to a protest and counter-protest on June 4, 2017. The IPR report gave a critical review of protest-related policies and practices of the police department. The IPR agreed that the police tactic of “kettling” resulted in many detentions and arrests without documented reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

Kettling occurs when police effectively lasso hundreds of people, trapping them in a small area. Police then place people under arrest or take their photos and information so they can later be charged. The report also found that PPB policies are outdated and ineffective in ensuring that officers will not use excessive force.