MARCH 12, 1998
Citizen Advisors Present: Charles Ford, Presiding; Marina Anttila; Gene
Bales; Les Frank; Deborah Haring; Leora Mahoney; Emily Simon; Robert Ueland;
Randall Weisberg; Robert Wells
Citizen Advisors Absent: Steve Heck; Jim Taylor
City Staff Present: Capt. Bill Bennington, IAD; Lisa Botsko, PIIAC Staff;
Adrianne Brockman, City Attorney's Office; Sgt. Randy Killinger, IAD; Sgt. John
Media Present: Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian; Dan Handelman, Flying Focus
[Anttila and Simon not yet present.]
Ford called the meeting to order and introduced new citizen advisor Gene
Bales, replacing David Burney and representing the East Portland area. [Simon
arrived.] Advisors accepted January and February meeting minutes, approving one
amendment from Emily Simon to the February minutes.
Ford said he was pleased that most advisors were able to attend the special
work session. He felt that it was productive and hopes to do that more often.
Advisors benefit from discussing what is and is not working well for them.
Weisberg said that it is hard to be prepared when meeting materials arrive late.
Sometimes it can take a couple hours to read through everything.
PIIAC Appeal #98-02: Mahoney and Botsko reported. The appellant was part
of a group drinking in a park. A citizen called in to complain, and when
officers arrived, the appellant left on his bicycle. An officer followed him
out, met up with him about a block away in a residential front yard. The
appellant stated that the officer tackled him to the ground and pepper-sprayed
him for no good reason, he was not offering resistance. The officer said he was,
that he used one burst of spray. He tried to offer water but the appellant
claimed that burned even more. The resident was interviewed; she only observed a
portion of the interaction, after the appellant was on the ground and
handcuffed. She did not see what led up to that. She described the appellant as
seeming and drunk and loud.
The appellant also claimed that the officer was discourteous and called him a
name while transporting him to the detox center. He said that the officer
deliberately knifed a hole in his bicycle tire.
Hooper detox records reflected that the appellant was judged to be
intoxicated, and detained for a period of time.
The Bureau determined that the allegations of excessive force and
improper conduct were Unfounded. The finding regarding Communication (Courtesy)
was Insufficient Evidence, based partly on the officer's admission that he did
not recall whether he made a rude comment to the appellant.
The appellant addressed the committee and reiterated his complaint. He said
that the charges on the tickets were a complete lie. Botsko advised that the
appellant had never gone to court to contest the tickets, and the appellant said
there had been a misunderstanding about the time and he was never contacted
Capt. Bennington said that the appellant committed a violation by drinking
alcohol in the park. According to the officer's testimony, the appellant ditched
his bicycle, and was pepper sprayed when the officer was able to get in front of
him. There are two different versions of the story.
Wells asked the appellant about his demeanor at Hooper detox. The appellant
discussed another aspect of his stay at Hooper. Simon asked him if he still had
the bicycle tire; the appellant said he did but was told there was no need to
bring it to this meeting. Ueland said that the investigation revealed
construction debris at the park; this could also account for damage to the
Botsko said that the investigation was fairly complete, with the exception of
the communication allegations. Simon asked for clarification on the officer's
recall; Botsko said that a second interview had to be conducted with the officer
to go over the communication allegations, and even then, not all allegations
were explored. When the officer said he could not remember what he said, the
interview was concluded. However, Botsko did not believe that additional
investigation at this point would likely produce a different finding.
Ueland made a motion to affirm the PPB investigation and findings; Wells
seconded. The motion carried [Y-8;N-Simon]. Simon explained that she voted no
because she was unconvinced about the sequence of events involving the pepper
PIIAC Appeal #98-04: Botsko summarized. The complaint had been declined
for investigation by IAD. The appellant and a companion had been holding
campaign signs on an I-205 pedestrian bridge. A motorist contacted 9-1-1,
complaining that traffic was slowing to read the signs. Officer A arrived and
asked the sign carriers to leave. The appellant did not agree that his
activities were hazardous; Officer A confiscated the sign. The appellant also
stated that Officer A improperly detained him and demanded he produce
identification. The appellant did so unwillingly. He was not cited or arrested.
He had a tape recording of the encounter, which IAD had not reviewed.
Botsko said that IAD Capt. Bennington had declined the complaint, citing an
Oregon State Dept. of Transportation administrative rule prohibiting banners.
The appellant had written another letter, disputing the applicability of this
administrative rule. Capt. Bennington then contacted the District Attorney to
determine what legal support existed for the officer's actions, and wrote
another letter to the appellant citing several potential violations.
The appellant addressed the committee, stating that he had never received
this second letter. He was provided a copy to read. He told the panel he was on
a public sidewalk. The message on his sign was no different than what was on
billboards. He and his companion stood a healthy distance away from the railing,
so the signs could not fall onto traffic. Other people have held signs on that
walkway. He felt he should receive the highest level of political speech
protection and that the officer did not know the law.
Simon and Weisberg asked some clarifying questions. Wells asked if the
Officer explained his actions; the appellant said he was only told he posed a
traffic hazard, but the officer could not cite what the violation was. Simon
also asked where the conversation with the officer took place; the appellant
said it was more off to the side of the walkway.
Simon made a motion to return the complaint to IAD for full investigation,
including a review of the appellant's tape recording, interviews with the
officer, appellant and appellant's companion. Weisberg seconded, saying he had a
problem with IAD conducting a partial investigation before declining a
Capt. Bennington said IAD had tried to contact the appellant without success.
Botsko confirmed that a tape recording in the file reflected two messages left
on the appellant's answering machine.
Ueland said he would support the motion. Botsko had a couple of concerns
about IAD's handling of the complaint. Trying to learn what legal support exists
for an officer's actions after the fact suggests that no clear policy or
standard has been established regarding sign-carriers on public property.
Relying on a citizen complaint of a traffic hazard may result in arbitrary
enforcement. This is not a good position for the Bureau to be in with respect to
possible first amendment issues. While consultation with a district attorney may
be useful in formulating general policy, it should not be done to dispose of a
particular complaint because the focus of the district attorney is different.
That person makes a judgment based on an unquestioning acceptance of an
officer's report. Botsko had earlier spoken with a deputy city attorney, and
suggested PPB work with that person to clarify policy.
The motion passed unanimously [Y-10].
Announcements / New Business:
Ford announced that four citizen advisors would have 1½ hours to describe
PIIAC's program at the NUSA spring conference. The focus of the conference is
neighborhood-based programs. He proposed that the advisors meet to prepare.
Botsko summarized the previous day's PIIAC activities before City Council. An
appeal heard in December, involving an arrest for a marijuana grow operation,
was denied by Council. Also, an appeal heard the previous month from an attorney
who claimed an officer was rude to him, was also declined based on the
appellant's own action toward the officer. The Council also accepted the Fourth
Quarter 1997 Monitoring Report.
Simon asked that advisors receive monthly updates on cases returned to IAD;
for example, an appellant who had an altercation with an off-duty officer over a
fender-bender. Capt. Bennington said that case has been in Central Precinct for
adjudication and he will follow it up.
Dan Handelman addressed the panel. He summarized some written comments that
had been distributed to Council members the previous day, and to all advisors.
He also commented on an appeal heard before Council the previous day. He had
been asked by the appellant to testify on her behalf, because of her inability
to communicate well under stress. Council denied that request. He thought she
did well presenting her case, but felt the Commissioners did not really listen
to her. She was requesting an Insufficient Evidence finding on one of the
allegations. He also felt that commissioners were scrutinizing the appellants'
behavior overly much; if they are going to do that, they should examine the
officers' histories as well.
He commented on the appeals that had just been heard. He felt he did not hear
enough about the cases.
Ford addressed the committee and mentioned the Garvey case. He said that the
Mayor told him the city was appealing the judge's latest decision that the city
should release materials.
Capt. Bennington also announced that Commissioner Kafoury, at the previous
day's Council meeting, had given the green light for police-citizen mediations
to resume. Ford said that two task forces had been formed to look at the history
of the mediation program; the recommendation was for full funding to be
The meeting adjourned.