A Portland couple has filed suit against the Portland Police Bureau, saying five officers unlawfully entered their apartment while they were sleeping, Tased the man and forced the woman to stand in her underwear during a search.
The suit says that on Aug. 17, 2011, Sarah Lynn Hill and Brett Lopez had an argument in their apartment, but there was no physical violence. A neighbor heard pounding and shouting and called the cops at about 11:30 pm.
Police went onto the couple's balcony and shined lights into the apartment, where the couple was sleeping. After an hour on scene, police decided to enter the apartment through an unlocked front door, according to the suit, filed Dec. 31 in Multnomah County Circuit Court.
At that point, Lopez woke up and told officers to get out of his bedroom. Instead, the suit says that Officer Shaun Sahli grabbed Lopez, while Officer Matthew Wells Tasered him twice. He was then arrested for harassment and interfering with a police officer.
As the struggle began, the suit continues, Hill was pulled by her arms out of the bed by two officers. She was then forced to stand in her living room in just a tank top and underwear until she was later brought a blanket. Officers searched the room, which Hill says was left with a mattress up against a the closet, trash can dumped out and her closet in disarray.
Lopez was booked at the Multnomah County Detention Center and released a few hours later. He was acquitted by a jury of his harassment and interfering charges on Dec. 5, 2011.
The suit, filed by Portland Law Collective, alleges unlawful entry of a dwelling, unreasonable invasion of bodily privacy, seizure by excessive force and arrest without probable cause. The couple is seeking $70,440, plus attorneys fees.
Other PPB members named in the suit are Sgt. David Michaelson and officers Mitch Coussens and Craig Gervais.
Portland Police Bureau spokesman Pete Simpson says the bureau doesn't comment on litigation. But he did add: "the thing about a lawsuit you can claim anything you want."
UPDATE: The attorney for Hill and Lopez, Ben Haile told WW this: "The police said they could enter the home to investigate a possible emergency, not a crime. The heart of this lawsuit is after the police found Ms. Hill and Mr. Lopez in bed, they knew that there was no emergency. They should have left the home. Instead they turned it into a confrontation and escalated the violence until they had total control."