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Portland settles again

Discussion in 'Legal & Political Archive' started by USMC1911, Sep 29, 2009.

  1. USMC1911

    USMC1911 Salem Active Member

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    A Multnomah County jury Monday ordered the city of Portland to pay three men a total of $175,000 for a 2007 encounter with police at a downtown parking garage in which the men accused officers of battery, assault and false arrest.

    The jurors found the testimony of two independent witnesses especially compelling. The witnesses, a young college couple, saw the entire episode and corroborated the stories of the three men: Harold Hammick, Ri'Chard Booth and Alex Clay.

    "Justice does work," Clay said after the verdict. "The system does work."

    A city attorney had argued last week during the trial that police were acting within the law when they stopped and detained the three man in the early morning after St. Patrick's Day 2007.

    The confrontation ended successfully, Portland city attorney Bill Manlove said, because there were "no injuries, no gunshots, no deaths, no high-speed chases, no foot pursuit.

    "Everyone went home safe," Manlove said.

    But the three young men claimed they were frightened and confused about why they had been stopped by officers who, they say, never offered an explanation.

    Greg Kafoury, the attorney for the men, said that the city's defense had invoked an ugly stereotype of young black men as belligerent, confrontational and profane.

    All three men have clean records, with no history of violence. Clay is a graduate of Portland State University and works with at-risk youth at Head Start. Booth assembles mattresses, and Hammick is a computer technician.

    Hammick, Booth and Clay had come downtown to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Portland's entertainment district. According to Kafoury, Hammick and Booth had returned to an SUV in the parking garage at Southwest Fourth Avenue and Alder Street when they encountered the police. Clay showed up later after stopping at a pizza parlor.

    The men sued the city for $300,000 for what they described as 40 minutes of terror in which they were held at gunpoint while officers searched their car and checked to see whether the handgun Hammick was carrying was stolen.

    The city tried to portray Hammick as an angry man with a gun who may have been involved in an altercation on the street before the encounter with police.

    Officer Leo Besner testified that there was a big crowd on the street that morning, shouting and getting ready to fight. One group wore white T-shirts, and another group wore black T-shirts.

    Besner said he saw Hammick on the street, running in a white T-shirt when the two groups were shouting at each other. He later came across him in the parking garage in the SUV about 2:45 a.m.

    Early in the encounter, Hammick told Besner he had a gun and handed over his concealed weapon permit, Besner testified.

    After Hammick indicated the gun was in his waistband, Besner drew his weapon and took a half-step back. Two other officers on the scene also pulled their weapons.

    A short time later, Besner said, he cut Hammick's seat belt because he didn't want Hammick to reach near the gun to unbuckle the safety harness. Then, he told Hammick to get out of the car and took the handgun.

    Hammick, Besner testified, was "definitely unhappy ... From the get-go, he was argumentative."

    But Kafoury told a different story. All three men, he said, were wrenched from the SUV and handcuffed.

    Kafoury also said that Besner punched Hammick twice in the groin and questioned his manhood during the confrontation, accusations the officer denied.

    "We know that the plaintiffs were not confrontational," Kafoury told the jury during his closing. "The word they used more often than any other was 'please.'"

    Hammick, he added, had tears streaming down his face.

    The men also said that police told other people in the parking garage to move along, Kafoury said in closing arguments, "because they did not want witnesses."

    The two witnesses who scrunched down in their car seat so they could watch the confrontation said all three men pleaded with passers-by not to leave them alone with police.

    Those witnesses were a key to the jury's verdict, said forewoman Karen Nootenboom. She also said jurors felt as if Hammick, Booth and Clay "were at the wrong place at the wrong time," Nootenboom said, "and seemed to be targeted."

    Race was discussed only briefly during deliberations, she added, as jurors wondered whether white men would have been treated the same.

    Besner has been at the center of controversy before. In 2005, while he was a sniper with the Special Emergency Reaction Team, Besner shot a suicidal man who was holding a weapon in the backyard of a duplex. The man was on the phone with a police negotiator at the time. The city paid the man's family $500,000.

    Detective Mary Wheat, a Police Bureau spokeswoman, said after the verdict that "Officers were concerned about the public's safety and their own safety and making sure nobody got hurt. And no one did."
     
  2. chris61182

    chris61182 A little west of Portland Active Member

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    So what's going to happen to these bad apple officers now?
     
  3. Ben Beckerich

    Ben Beckerich NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    how do we know they're bad apple?
     
  4. chris61182

    chris61182 A little west of Portland Active Member

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    Did you not read the news article or do you prefer a different term for bad guys who have a badge, gun, and uniform?
     
  5. Ben Beckerich

    Ben Beckerich NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    are you kidding?

    there's an altercation between two groups, and police set out looking for a group of young black men with a gun. they then find and detained 3 armed young men for 40 minutes. no beatings, no tasings, no charges filed- i'm gonna need a lot more information before i'm going to label these three officers "bad apples."
     
  6. chris61182

    chris61182 A little west of Portland Active Member

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    Again did you even read the article? The altercation on the street didn't involve a gun. The police find these men someone else (perhaps they should be looking on the street with the altercation). One of the men offers up his CHL which apparently really riles up the officers (one of which has a history of not being able to control himself). As for the beatings, the two independent witnesses corroborated the three victims story that there were in fact beatings taking place.

    On top of it all, these witnesses and any additional evidence was presented in a court of law before a jury who then found the officers guilty.

    They're quite plainly bad apples, especially the one with a history, hence my question. What's going to happen to them now? Is the status-quo of protecting them going to take place or are there actually going to be personal ramifications for their poor behavior, up to and including dismissal?
     
  7. Ben Beckerich

    Ben Beckerich NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    i read it, then moved on to a few other articles, and i guess i confused facts with this story by the time i posted. my bad.

    all the same, i don't believe 80% of what i read in the oregonian. I've personally known PPB officers who have been in the Oregonian's spotlight in the past, usually under the pen of Maxine Berstein, and the amount of misinformation is generally staggering. Remember Jason Sery? i simply do not believe that these officers "beat" these guys. They might have roughed them up, but no more than is SOP for PPB officers dealing with a group of hostile young black men. Were they justified in being hostile at the police contact? Very likely- but the fact of the matter is it's extremely rare to stop a car full of young black men with a gun in Portland and have none of them go to jail for something. I believe this case is no different than any other police encounter between PPB officers and cars full of young black men. bad apples?

    the system as a whole is the bad apple. this is what you get when you give a group hundreds of thousands of dollars and "authority" and tell them to lord over the People. it's our fault for allowing it. they're gangsters, and like all gangsters, they, from time to time, will misperceive others as gangsters.

    and i am aware of Besner's background.. he's been involved in something like $700,000 total in liability that City Insurance has paid out over the last decade. to my knowledge, PPB has never officially disciplined him.
     
  8. gunnails

    gunnails Hillsboro Active Member

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    ===============================================



    facepalm4.gif
     
  9. Benny503

    Benny503 Grants Pass Well-Known Member

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    Well, if the court and the jury decided to pay the three men then we all should know that all the evidents/witness pointed out the officers in this case mishandle the situation right? I am not bashing the LE, but if they are taking the power on their own hand then they will get punish just like everyone else. I can't be more happier to see there are justice for everyone. If the LE doesn't do anything wrong then their is no law suit against them.
     
  10. chris61182

    chris61182 A little west of Portland Active Member

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    bkb0000, fair enough on all the points except the one gunnails addressed much more eloquently than I ever could have hoped to.

    The other thing I'd like to point out is that one of those men were a CHL holder. So he's a law abiding gun owner, who has passed several background checks, and has been required to take firearms training. Or in other words he's one of us. It's very unfortunate that there's the possibility that the shade of one's skin would lead to a different outcome.

    Wait, did I just end up trying to address the point that gunnails already addressed?
     
  11. USMC1911

    USMC1911 Salem Active Member

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    I bet if that were you in there position you wouldent have the same feelings. Every person deserves to be treated with respect! It seems the portland police cheif condones the way her officers treat people. Look at her responce to the James Casse ordeal, that police used approprate force. He was peeing on the street and was killed by the police for there lack of caring, plain and simple!
     
  12. Ben Beckerich

    Ben Beckerich NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    i dont get it...
     
  13. Ben Beckerich

    Ben Beckerich NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    read my next post
     
  14. USMC1911

    USMC1911 Salem Active Member

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    I did, right along with your racist overtones.
     
  15. ob1

    ob1 49th parallel Well-Known Member

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    Gunnails, a little strange that you would choose a video clip showing OJ Simpson to make your point :huh:

    Sorry, maybe I am showing a little bias here, not racial, just any case that Greg Kafoury would be involved in.
     
  16. Ben Beckerich

    Ben Beckerich NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    oh great. there's probably no use whatsoever in asking, but just what exactly does that mean?
     
  17. ob1

    ob1 49th parallel Well-Known Member

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    If you are not aware of Greg's track record, I dont have the space available to elaborate. His involvement as Counsel is sufficient to comment on the merit of any case in question.
     
  18. Ben Beckerich

    Ben Beckerich NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    the guy that said that Islamic terrorists are "those that don't like us and have courage to stand up to us"...?

    yea, i've had the opportunity to study the guy a bit
     
  19. Shadow

    Shadow Conyers, Georgia, United States Member

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    As a black man, who has a CCP, I just laughed when I read this. It doesn't surprise me that some think this way, what surprises me is the effrontery to put such unenlightened thought to pen or voice.
     
  20. Ben Beckerich

    Ben Beckerich NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    you're gonna have to break it down for me.

    i'm not politically correct- if you can't handle blunt, uncensored conversation, then don't bother.