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Suits Attack “Dirty Tactics” of Portland, Oregon Police

Four men are suing the Portland Police Bureau in state court, alleging that their civil rights were violated by police “dirty tactics.” Lawyers for the men are calling for an independent investigation of the complaints.

On May 27, 2006, while searching for a fleeing suspect, police followed a police dog onto private property where the dog alerted on a vehicle. Police then broke a window in the vehicle. Frank Waterhouse was standing at the edge of the property, which belonged to his friend: “Yes, I got it all on film. They had no right to come on this property.” Waterhouse was immediately confronted by police who yelled for him to put the camera down. Seconds later he was shot with a bean bag gun and a Taser, causing him to fall to the ground.

Police wrote in their reports that Waterhouse ran, they chased, then bean-bagged and Tasered him. “He had refused to drop the camera, which could be used as a weapon,” wrote one officer. Waterhouse was arrested for criminal trespass and disorderly conduct, but a jury acquitted him of all charges. Waterhouse his suing for unlawful seizure and excessive force, asserting that he was Tasered and shot with bean bag rounds because he was videotaping the search.

On September 18, 2006, police responded to the apartment of Gregory Benton late at night, on an anonymous call of a shooting. Police demanded to search the residence, but Benton refused, without a warrant. In response to escalating threats from police, Benton eventually capitulated. Upon exiting the apartment, Benton was surrounded by nine officers with guns drawn. Police then went through his apartment, looking in drawers and cupboards. Benton was not charged with a crime. He is suing for unlawful search and seizure, asserting that police forced him from his home at gunpoint then searched the residence without probable cause.

On October 5, 2006, police interfered with a public demonstration. Ryan Dunn was among the crowd that was criticizing police actions. Officers entered the crowd, seized Dunn, shoved him against a building, grabbed him by the hair and beard and dragged him through the police line into custody. Dunn was charged with interfering with police and disorderly conduct, but a jury acquitted him. Dunn is suing for unlawful seizure.

On June 14, 2007, Richard Prentice was posting fliers critical of police involved in the death of 42-year-old schizophrenic James P. Chasse, Jr. Prentice was taping a flier to the federal courthouse, accusing police of murder, when an officer ordered him to take it down.
He agreed but said he would just put it up somewhere else. The officer then forced him to the ground, arrested him and took him to a holding cell where he was confronted by two of the officers involved in Chasse’s death. Prentice filed a tort claim, asserting his intent to sue for false arrest and violation of his right to freedom of speech.

Barton is represented by attorney Ashlee Albies. The other three men are represented by the law firm of Haile-Greenwald, which is also representing several former Multnomah County jail prisoners who guards subjected to excessive force. See: “Guard’s Internet Boasts Exposes Jails ‘Culture of Violence,’”

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