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February 17, 2010

Minutes

Citizen Review Committee

February 17, 2010

 

Date Approved: March 10, 2010

 

Meeting Location: Lovejoy Room, Portland City Hall

 

CRC Members Present: Michael Bigham (Chair), Jeffrey Bissonnette, Loren Eriksson, Hank Miggins, Ayoob Ramjan, Lewellyn Robison, Rochelle Silver, Jamie Troy

 

City staff: LaVonne Griffin-Valade (City Auditor), Mary-Beth Baptista (IPR Director), Constantin Severe (IPR Assistant Director), Judy Taylor (IPR Investigator); Linly Rees (Deputy City Attorney)

 

Police Bureau:  Assistant Chief Brian Martinek, Captain Ed Brumfield (IAD), Lieutenant Eric Schober (IAD), Investigator Barry Renna (IAD), Sergeant Roger Axthelm (East Precinct), Sergeant Scott Westerman (Portland Police Association), Officer Dave Dobler (Portland Police Association)  

 

Community/Media:  Dan Handelman (Portland CopWatch and Flying Focus Video), Regina Hannon (Portland CopWatch), Debbie Aiona (League of Women Voters), Maxine Bernstein (The Oregonian), JoAnn Jackson (former CRC member), Robert Ueland (Appeal Process Advisor), James Pitkin (Willamette Week), KATU News, KOIN 6 News,  Matt Davis (Portland Mercury), Lindsey Detweiler (prospective CRC member), David Fidanke (ACLU),  Benjamin Haile (Portland Law Collective), Kenneth Kreushcher (Portland Law Collective); various unidentified community members.       

 

               I.      Chair Bigham called the meeting to order at 5:30 pm.

 

              II.      Introductions and welcome.

 

Chair Bigham announced a change in the agenda and stated that Chief Sizer would not be present as was originally planned.  Also, it was decided to begin with the appeal hearing prior to Assistant Chief Martinek’s presentation.

 

             III.      Appeal of Case #2009-X-0005 (IPR #2006-C-0475)

 

Chair Bigham read the appeal procedures. 

 

Ms. Rees defined the standard of proof for CRC appeal hearings.

 

Chair Bigham read the thirteen allegations pertaining to this case.

 

Mr. Ramjan presented a summary of the complaint.

 

The appellant thanked CRC for hearing his case and made a brief opening statement.  Ms. Logan Perkins, Lewis and Clark law student, a National Lawyers Guild volunteer advocate for the appellant, spoke on the appellant’s behalf.

 

Ms. Perkins stated that the appellant conceded the Police Bureau’s findings on allegations 4, 5, 8, 12, and 13.   City Attorney Rees noted that allegation 7 was dismissed by IPR and therefore was not investigated by IAD. 

 

Mr. Haile, the appellant’s attorney, spoke on the appellant’s behalf, stating that the appellant harbors no malice toward the officers involved in this complaint and that he has pursued this appeal mainly because he does not want the same thing happening to other people that happened to him. 

 

The involved officers were not present, nor did anyone offer to speak on their behalf. 

 

Captain Brumfield introduced Assistant Chief Martinek, who presented the rationale for the Police Bureau’s findings.  He explained that Chief Sizer’s not being at the meeting was the result of an inadvertent schedule change due to her assumption that Assistant Chief Martinek was covering the hearing on behalf of the Police Bureau.  Assistant Chief Martinek then addressed questions of CRC members.  Before leaving the meeting, Assistant Chief Martinek offered to return at a future CRC meeting to discuss a letter that CRC had written to him.

 

Mr. Troy asked IPR to explain its decision to dismiss allegation number 7, that the officers violated the appellant’s constitutional rights by continuing to ask him questions about the incident for which he had been arrested after he had asked for an attorney.  Director Baptista noted that she was not the IPR Director at the time, but she explained her understanding of the rationale for this decision.

 

Mr. Eriksson asked IPR and IAD to explain why the investigation of this case took three years.  Director Baptista and Investigator Taylor cited previous systemic problems that caused certain delays to occur.  IAD Investigator Renna explained delays that occurred at IAD.  Director Baptista noted that the process was further delayed at the end by waiting for the conclusion of the Performance Review Board and the civil trial to ensure that the appellant had a meaningful opportunity to appeal the appropriate findings.  

 

The appellant and his advocates addressed questions from CRC members.  

 

Public comment:  Mr. Handelman (Portland CopWatch); Kenneth Kreushcher (Portland Law Collective and National Lawyers Guild);  David Fidanke (ACLU)

 

CRC discussed the case. 

 

Ms. Perkins and Mr. Haile made final statements on behalf of the appellant.

 

There were no final statements on behalf of the officers.

 

Each allegation was voted on separately:

 

Allegation 1.  Officers A, B, C, and D falsely arrested the Appellant.  Finding: Exonerated with Debriefing)  

 

Mr. Bissonnette made a motion to challenge the finding on Allegation 1 for Officer A, and to recommend changing the finding to Unproven with a Debriefing, but to affirm the finding for Officers B, C, and D.  Mr. Troy seconded the motion.

 

Mr. Bissonnette gave the following rationale for his motion:  “In viewing the IAD file, I frankly did not find the ride-along a convincing witness for a couple of reasons.  One is that her description of the person she saw do the initial act  was very different than the pictures taken that night at the scene in terms of description of facial hair and description of clothing.  Also, and related to the actual identification, she did not remember an emergency unit showing up…  So I didn’t find her identification particularly persuasive, and so for me it’s come down to the word of the arresting officer.  And the dog never alerted, never went past the car that was broken into, never continued to follow a trail that the suspect left….  Because of the inconsistencies I just named, I feel comfortable enough to challenge the finding.  I’d prefer to see Unproven with a Debrief rather than Exoneration with Debrief for Officer A, but I think Officers B, C, and D were basically following the lead of Officer A, so I have no reason to challenge them.   

 

Mr. Troy gave the following rationale for his second:  “The police explanation for why the appellant when arrested was not wearing what was initially described as a black leather jacket was that he had time to change jackets and he must have changed jackets.  The description that was called out was white male, between five-eight and five-eleven, and medium build, … but the appellant is six one and  240 pounds.  That troubled me.  It also troubled me that if the police dog was doing the ‘best track I’ve been involved in’ according to one police officer, when the appellant was maybe ten feet away from the police dog, as windows are being broken into the car, why did the dog not track on him?  Why was the dog never offered an opportunity to sniff the appellant? … Officer A is a human.  She is trained as a police officer, and I think she was convinced that this appellant was the guy she was searching for.  I think she honestly believed that.  I’m not sure that means she’s right, because there was enough information going back and forth between the police that there might be another person.  I certainly don’t think that this should be exonerated, because I think she was acting in good faith and believed herself.  I would go to Unproven versus Exonerated. 

 

The motion passed by a vote of 5-1.

 

Yes: Bigham, Bissonnette, Miggins, Silver, Troy

 

No:  Eriksson

 

Abstain: Ramjan, Robison

 

Allegation 2(a). Officers A, B, C, and D used unnecessary physical force to effect Appellant’s arrest, causing injury to his right elbow.  Finding:  Sustained for Officer B use of less lethal/bean bag. Unproven with a debriefing for Officers A, C, and D.   

 

Mr. Troy made a motion to challenge the finding on Allegation 2(a) for Officer C (the officer who deployed a Taser) but not challenge the finding for Officers A, B, and D), and to recommend changing the finding for Officer C to Sustained.  Ms. Silver seconded the motion.  The motion passed by a vote of 6-0.

 

Yes: Bigham, Bissonnette, Eriksson, Miggins, Silver, Troy

 

Abstain: Ramjan, Robison

 

Mr. Bissonnette made a motion to affirm the remaining findings on Allegation 2(a).  Mr. Eriksson seconded the motion.  The motion passed by a vote of 6-0.

 

Yes: Bigham, Bissonnette, Eriksson, Miggins, Silver, Troy

 

Abstain: Ramjan, Robison

 

Allegation 2(b) Officer B failed to provide a verbal warning prior to deployment of the bean bag and   Officer C failed to provide verbal warning prior to deployment of the Taser.  Finding: Sustained.

 

Ms. Silver made a motion to affirm the sustained findings on Allegation 2(b).  Mr. Troy seconded the motion.  The motion passed by a vote of 6-0.

 

Yes: Bigham, Bissonnette, Eriksson, Miggins, Silver, Troy

 

Abstain: Ramjan, Robison

 

Allegation 3. Officers B and C failed to provide medical attention and advised medical responders Appellant was “fine.”  Finding:  Exonerated with a debriefing. 

 

Ms. Silver made a motion to affirm the finding on Allegation 3.  Mr. Eriksson  seconded the motion.  The motion passed by a vote of 5-1.

 

Yes: Bigham, Eriksson, Miggins, Silver, Troy

 

No: Bissonnette

 

Abstain: Ramjan, Robison

 

Mr. Bissonnette made a motion to acknowledge the appellant’s concession on allegations 4, 5, 8, 12, and 13 and to take no further action on them.  Mr. Troy seconded the motion. 

 

(The appellant thanked CRC and left the hearing at this time.)

 

The motion passed by a vote of 4-2.

 

Yes: Bigham, Bissonnette, Eriksson, Troy 

 

No: Silver, Miggins

 

Abstain: Ramjan, Robison

 

Allegation 6. Officer A turned up the car radio and played “rap” music loudly while Appellant was transported to NE Precinct.   Finding:  Unproven with a debriefing.

 

Mr. Bissonnette made a motion to affirm the finding on Allegation 6.  Mr. Eriksson  seconded the motion.  The motion passed by a vote of 6-0.

 

Yes: Bigham, Bissonnette, Eriksson, Miggins, Silver, Troy

 

Abstain: Ramjan, Robison

 

Allegation 9. Officers A, B, C, and D failed to write accurate police reports.   Finding:  Exonerated with a debriefing.

 

Ms. Silver made a motion to affirm the finding on Allegation 9.  Mr. Troy seconded the motion.  The motion passed by a vote of 6-0.

 

Yes: Bigham, Bissonnette, Eriksson, Miggins, Silver, Troy

 

Abstain: Ramjan, Robison

 

Allegation 10. Officers A and B failed to loosen Appellant’s handcuffs.  Finding: Unproven with a debriefing.

 

Mr. Bissonnette made a motion to affirm the finding on Allegation 10.  Mr. Miggins  seconded the motion.  The motion passed by a vote of 6-0.

 

Yes: Bigham, Bissonnette, Eriksson, Miggins, Silver, Troy

 

Abstain: Ramjan, Robison

 

Allegation 11. Officer B used rude language, telling Appellant to “shut up – don’t talk shit to the observer.”  Finding: Unproven.

 

Mr. Bissonnette made a motion to challenge the finding and change it to Unproven with a Debriefing.  Ms. Silver seconded the motion. 

 

Mr. Bissonnette gave the following rationale for this motion:  “I’m willing to affirm the Unproven, what I don’t understand is why one finding gets a debrief and another doesn’t.  I think I understand intellectually, but all of these are close enough, to my mind, that I think a debrief with the officer involved is worthwhile…  I just don’t get why there’s a discrimination between one and the other, that one should get debriefed and one doesn’t.”   

 

The motion passed by a vote of 6-0.  

 

Yes: Bigham, Bissonnette, Eriksson, Miggins, Silver, Troy

 

Abstain: Ramjan, Robison

 

Because of the lateness of this meeting, Ms. Silver proposed that discussion of the policy and training implications of this appeal be postponed to a future meeting.

 

            IV.      Old Business

 

Outreach:  Mr. Miggins introduced a discussion regarding the naming and the focus of the upcoming public forum.  In their last meeting the Outreach Workgroup agreed to name the forum “The CRC Community Forum on Police Accountability, Including the James Chasse Jr. Case.” 

 

Mr. Bissonnette made a motion that the theme of the March 14 public forum will be to gather community concerns about police accountability issues and the James Chasse Jr. case.  Mr. Troy seconded the motion.  Mr. Bissonnette confirmed that this motion is about the general theme of the forum and that approval of this motion does not preclude future editing of the language of the public service announcements, press releases, etc.

 

Public comment: Mr. Handelman said that the public forum should include the  James Chasse Jr. case because CRC is supposed to tell the outside experts what the community thinks about this case.  Ms. Aiona seconded Mr. Handelman’s comments.

 

The motion passed 7-1.

 

Yes: Bigham, Bissonnette, Eriksson, Ramjan, Robison, Silver, Troy 

 

No: Miggins

 

Director Baptista informed CRC that the Office of Independent Review is scheduled to meet with CRC on Tuesday, February 23, at 3:30 p.m.   For any CRC members who are not able to attend this meeting, the OIR will be available to them by phone.     

 

             V.      New Business

 

Mr. Troy stated that at the 2/12/10 meeting of the Appeals Workgroup representatives of the National Lawyers Guild proposed a system wherein appellants would be offered the services of volunteer advocates, who could assist the appellants more actively than the Appeal Process Advisor (APA).  The workgroup discussed this proposal and agreed that a six-month trial period would be a good idea.  The National Lawyers Guild representatives requested that their information be passed on to current appellants whose appeals have not yet been scheduled. 

 

Mr. Troy made a motion to initiate a six-month trial period beginning on 2/17/10 to offer volunteer advocates through the National Lawyers Guild to current and future appellants and that the contact information for the volunteer advocates be made available to the appellants.  Mr. Miggins seconded the motion. 

 

Mr. Bissonnette asked if the Appeals Workgroup had discussed the role of the APA if this proposal is initiated.  Ms. Silver replied that the workgroup agreed that appellants could use services of both the APA and the advocate if they chose. 

 

Public comment:  An unidentified representative of the National Lawyers Guild thanked Mr. Troy for bringing this topic up and expressed appreciation for CRC’s willingness to entertain this motion. 

 

Mr. Troy’s motion passed unanimously. 

 

            VI.      Public Comment

 

Mr. Handelman (Portland CopWatch) expressed satisfaction with the results of  tonight’s hearing regarding the use of the Taser. Mr. Handelman recommended that CRC appoint a parliamentarian to make sure that rules and protocols are followed.     

 

Ms. Hannon (Portland CopWatch) said she was pleased with the way tonight’s appeal hearing was handled, and she encouraged CRC to continue in this direction.   

 

            VII.      Wrap-up Comments:

 

Director Baptista expressed a commitment to continuing to improve the appeal hearing process.  She said that she intends to work with the volunteer advocates to try to further streamline the process. 

 

Auditor Griffin-Valade thanked CRC, community members, Police Bureau members, and IPR staff for their dedication and service. 

 

Chair Bigham thanked all for their service.  

 

           VIII.      Chair Bigham adjourned the meeting at 10:30 p.m.