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November 6th, 2013 ANDREA DAMEWOOD | News Stories
 

One Cop’s Exes and Uh-Ohs

An officer already under investigation faces domestic-violence allegations.

news1_4001ILLUSTRATION: Sheri Smith
A Portland cop under an internal affairs investigation for allegedly tampering with jurors also faces two formal misconduct complaints—filed by two ex-wives.

On Nov. 6, the city’s Citizen Review Committee will review an allegation that Jason Lobaugh, a 22-year veteran of the Portland Police Bureau, threatened to beat up one of his ex-wives and her new husband at her home this summer, according to sources familiar with the case.

The complaints, along with other police reports obtained by WW, show that Lobaugh, 46, has been investigated multiple times over the past 13 years for alleged threats and acts of physical violence against members of his own family. Lobaugh did not return multiple calls and emails for comment.

As WW has reported, Lobaugh is already under investigation for talking himself up to potential jurors in a theft trial in which he was going to be a witness. He told jurors in the courthouse hallway that “the detective on this case is outstanding,” referring to himself (“Tamper Tantrum,” WW, Sept. 18, 2013).

Since 1995, the city has received 16 tort claims that name Lobaugh, and nearly all cite use of excessive force. In a 2007 claim, witnesses said they saw Lobaugh taser a young black man and kick him after he was on the ground. Lobaugh was also investigated in 2000 by his own department for alleged use of GHB, an illegal narcotic associated with the use of steroids (“Officers, Not Gentlemen,” WW, June 29, 2005). Lobaugh was never charged.

The Police Bureau’s policies say any cop accused of domestic abuse will be flagged in its “early warning system” and must face an internal investigation. An officer arrested for domestic violence cannot return to work until cleared by a psychological threat assessment.

Portland police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson says internal affairs “thoroughly” investigated each claim against Lobaugh, but bureau policy prevents him from disclosing whether Lobaugh was ever disciplined. 

Lobaugh was promoted to detective in September 2012, and was still in his probationary period when he allegedly tampered with jurors. Last month, he was returned back to his job as an officer and has been assigned to the telephone reporting unit—a desk job where troublesome cops are often parked.

The nine-member Citizen Review Committee is a volunteer branch of the Independent Police Review Division of the City Auditor’s Office. The committee reviews complaints and makes recommendations, but has no authority to take action against an officer.

Lobaugh’s ex-wife, Laurie Grant, filed the complaint involving an altercation between her new husband and the officer this past summer, appearing before the Citizen Review Committee on Nov. 6. WW also uncovered a 2008 incident in which Grant called police, claiming Lobaugh kicked her son.

The 17-year-old stepson told Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputies that he and Lobaugh got into an argument. The teenager says Lobaugh told him, “I’m gonna kick your ass.” 

Lobaugh kicked him in the lower back with his bare foot, according to the sheriff’s report. Lobaugh told deputies he merely “booted him in the butt” and didn’t cause an injury. No charges were filed.

Grant and the stepson also told police Lobaugh had once thrown boiling water and rice in Grant’s face. “I asked [Laurie] about [Lobaugh’s] temper. Laurie told me, ‘He just triggers,’” wrote Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Upton in his report. “She said he is like this all the time.”

Grant didn’t respond to WW’s requests for an interview.

Lane Judson, whose daughter was killed by Tacoma Police Chief David Brame in a 2003 murder-suicide, speaks to police departments across the country about domestic-violence prevention. He’s been invited by Lt. Jeff Kaer to speak to Portland cops two times, he says.

“They need a policy put in place that says, ‘You will not do domestic violence,’” Judson says. “‘And if you do, you’ll lose your job, lose your badge, lose your gun and probably be out on the bread line.’”

Rosaura Torres, who wrote Abuse Hidden Behind the Badge, says a “blue wall” exists where officers protect one another before the victim.

“They blame the victim,” Torres says. “This cop, he’s going to call them crazy, he’s going to call them liars.”

A second formal complaint against Lobaugh is now before internal affairs. A Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office report says another of Lobaugh’s ex-wives, Nicole Gibson, called deputies when Lobaugh showed up at her Milwaukie home in July to pick up their teenage daughter.

Deputy Peter Robinson wrote that Gibson had legal custody of their daughter for the summer, and Lobaugh had no right to take her. “Lobaugh began showing signs of aggression and stuck out his chest,” Robinson wrote. “I could tell he was angry, and his face turned red.”

Lobaugh left with parting words for his fellow law enforcement officer. “As Lobaugh walked away,” Robinson wrote, “he said, ‘Fuck you very much.’”

Gibson tells WW the incident was another sign of Lobaugh’s “horrible temper.” She can’t believe Lobaugh is still a cop.

“If I’d done the things he did,” she says, “I’d be arrested. I’d be in jail.”

Portland Police Association president Daryl Turner says the domestic-violence allegations against Lobaugh are part of his personal life. Turner says he considers the alleged behavior “not socially acceptable” but that Lobaugh didn’t break the law.

“He doesn’t have an anger problem,” Turner says. “He has a problem picking wives.” 

 
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