Portland’s Independent Police Review has opened an investigation following a May 18 complaint from a civilian who alleged former Portland Police Association president Brian Hunzeker filmed him with his cellphone during an encounter Tuesday morning.
The incident occurred in the Piedmont neighborhood, on Northeast Bryant Street. Portland police issued a press release Tuesday morning, which said officers responded to a 911 call about two people who appeared to be unconscious in a running vehicle. The press release said police later recovered two handguns from the vehicle’s floor.
“While performing this tactical plan, some onlookers were aggressively shouting at police, making it difficult for officers to hear and carry out their duties in order to ensure the safety of the scene so those involved could get the medical aid they needed,” the bureau wrote in the press release.
Neighbors and bystanders, however, say the Police Bureau first asked local residents to check on the people in the vehicle.
Corey “Weston” Cox says he was out on his lawn, which was within yards of the vehicle in question, while his housemate, Timothy Swales, used a megaphone to try to wake up the people in the vehicle.
Once police arrived, Cox says, he and Swales urged officers to seek medical attention for the unconscious people in the vehicle.
“We were like, ‘These guys need medical attention.’ It was obvious: These guys had not moved in forever,” Cox says. “The police were doing nothing besides just pointing their guns at the vehicle.”
Cox alleges police then asked him and Swales to approach the vehicle themselves to check on the people who were passed out. Cox says he wasn’t sure if police were being serious with that instruction, so he ran inside to grab his flip-flops.
Swales captured video of what happened next. It shows Cox approaching the vehicle with his arms raised in the air as a handful of officers appear to huddle behind three or so police vehicles several yards away. Swales then approaches the vehicle with the unconscious passengers, too.
“He’s breathing really faint,” Swales tells the officers, who are still yards away. About a minute later, the video shows, six or so officer officers approach the vehicle.
In a separate video, Swales pans over to another Portland officer, who, in turn, films Swales with what appears to be a cellphone.
“Are you recording on your fucking cellphone?” Swales asks. “What is your badge number?”
Then, Swales claims out loud that he recognizes the officer.
“Oh, you’re Brian. You’re the old PPA head, aren’t you? You’re the one that got, cause—Jo Ann Hardesty’s information leaked.”
The officer then waves at Swales, puts his cellphone down and begins leaving the scene. Swales then follows the officer from a distance and jeers at him.
“How’s the internal investigation going?” Swales asks as the officer walks away. “What’s your badge number, Brian?”
Cox later filed a complaint about the incident with IPR on Tuesday.
It is unclear if the officer depicted in the video is, in fact, Hunzeker, who resigned from his role as PPA president March 16 due to what the union described as a “serious, isolated mistake related to the Police Bureau’s investigation into the alleged hit-and-run by Commissioner Hardesty.” The bureau said earlier this month that Hunzeker is working patrol in the North Precinct, which is where the incident occurred.
WW asked IPR if it had received a complaint alleging that Hunzeker filmed a civilian Tuesday morning, and whether the agency had opened an investigation as a result.
“Yes to both,” IPR director Ross Caldwell wrote in response. Caldwell declined to provide further details about the investigation. It is unclear what the alleged policy violation is.
A Police Bureau spokesman declined to comment on whether the bureau received complaints, or if the incident prompted an internal affairs investigation.