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Portland Copwatch Testimony on
US Dept of Justice/City of Portland Settlement (Section 1)


Summary: People subjected to deadly force or their families should have the right to appeal administrative findings regarding whether the officer(s) engaged in misconduct.

We'd like to start with a glaring and obvious way in which the Agreement does not remedy the pattern an practice of excessive force against people in actual or perceived mental health crisis as an example to set the stage for our testimony. A person with mental illness who is shot or killed by the Police has no ability to appeal the outcome of an administrative misconduct investigation. We find it hard to believe that anyone in this City, much less anyone in the mental health community, believes that it is "fair, adequate or reasonable." In paragraph 43, the DOJ Agreement locks that prohibition in place, meaning the community is stuck with it for five years.

To back up a little bit, Fred Bryant, the father of Keaton Otis, learned that the internal Police Review Board (PRB) had reviewed the incident in which his son was shot 23 times by Portland Police after a traffic stop and found there was no violation of policy. When Bryant, through an attorney, requested that IPR allow him to appeal those findings to the Citizen Review Committee (CRC), they refused. Never mind that City Code 3.20.140[G][1] states that "once the Board has prepared a statement of proposed findings relating to complaints of alleged misconduct of an officer during an encounter involving a citizen, the complainant or involved officer may have the opportunity to appeal the recommended findings to the [CRC]."

Let's back up a little bit further. In late 2009, a 12 year old African American girl engaged in a tussle with Portland Police was shot point blank in her leg by a lead pellet ("bean") bag gun. The incident led to outrage in the community and a fierce march of support by the Portland Police Association (PPA). The Bureau opened up its own investigation into that incident, which bypassed the girl being able to file her own complaint, and by the then-standing rules, she would not have been able to file an appeal on the findings because it was considered "Bureau-initiated." In 2010, new code was added that any incident involving a community member would be considered a community case.*-3 This would seem to mean that several people or their survivors (such as in the past, James Chasse, Keaton Otis, and a man who was shot in the head in 2007 but lived named Lesley Paul Stewart) should be able to appeal findings on their shootings/deaths cases. But for some reason, the City continues to separate shootings cases from all other cases. They argue that the person has a remedy through civil litigation. However, that would only result in the City paying out money to the person or their family, not in disciplinary action against the officers.

Although ideally, the Agreement would actively affirm the ability of persons to file appeals in deadly force cases, we ask that at least the portion of paragraph 43 indicating that there is no right to appeal those cases to the CRC be struck from the Agreement.

*-3- City Code 3.21.120 [G][5]
Back to text

DOJ Letter of Findings (September 12, 2012)

DOJ / City of Portland Settlment Agreement (November 14, 2012)

Next Section: 2. Taser Use and the DOJ Agreement

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Testimony sections:

1. Appealing Findings
  on Deadly Force Cases

2. Taser Use
  and the DOJ Agreement

3. Accountability--
  Independent Police Review

4. Accountability--
  Citizen Review Committee

5. Accountability--
  Police Review Board

6. Use of Force
  and the DOJ Agreement

7. Mental Health Provisions
8. Training
  and the DOJ Agreement

9. Tracking Police Contacts
  / Demographic Information

10. Implementation and

11. Oversight of the
  Agreement / Conclusion

(Additional Materials

Testimony in pdf format
  (16 pgs)

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.

Posted January 31, 2014

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