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Oregon Exotic Dancer Sues Police for Excessive Force

An Oregon woman is suing Portland Police in federal court, for excessive force.

On August 21, 2009, police were called to a Portland homeless camp, where they found two men bleeding from knife wounds, and exotic dancer Dawn Rae Johnson, delirious, naked, except for one boot, and clenching a knife.

Johnson screamed as officers chased her into the backyard of a neighboring home. When she failed to comply with orders to drop the knife, police Tasered her twice — once in the face — and shot her with a beanbag round, according to police reports. A team of police and firefighters then forcibly subdued her.

Johnson's version of the bizarre incident is a bit different. When her boyfriend sprayed her face and body with bear mace, she ripped off her clothes and ran toward a nearby wading pool to wash off the burning irritant, according to her attorney Leonard R. Berman. Unfortunately, however, she stumbled into a tent and accidently cut two homeless men, said Berman.

Johnson pleaded guilty to second degree assault and attempted first degree assault, to avoid mandatory minimum prison sentences under Oregon law, said Berman. She was released on August 19, 2011, after serving just less than two years, but still must serve a jail sentence on an unrelated charge.

Johnson brought federal suit against the city and four officers, alleging that they used excessive force to subdue her. "She was a naked, unarmed woman who was in distress, who posed no harm to anyone," Berman said. "She was out of her mind, and she did things she's not aware of." The lawsuit also alleges negligence claims against a local hospital.

The hospital and city declined to comment, citing a policy of not commenting on pending litigation. We will report on significant developments in the case.

Source: The Oregonian

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