A Portland Hotel Maintenance Worker Says a Homeland Security Agent Pulled a Gun on Him When He Tried to Fix His Toilet

“I had never seen a grown man so visibly frightened,” the employee’s colleague said.

A federal agent in downtown Portland on July 16. (Alex Wittwer)

In July 2020, federal agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security wielded weapons on the streets of Portland to subdue protesters. In a legal notice filed today, a hotel maintenance worker says those military tactics were also deployed on him.

On the afternoon of July 27, Christopher Frison walked to Room 428 at the Residence Inn by Marriott in North Portland with a plunger in hand. He was responding to a maintenance request to unclog a toilet, according to a tort claim notice filed Oct. 28 against DHS.

Frison, who is Black, knocked on the door of 428 and identified himself as maintenance. The guest inside the room—a DHS agent—swung open the door, the claim says, and, with an "aggressive look on his face," pointed a semi-automatic handgun at Frison's chest.

"Mr. Frison put his hands in the air and prepared to be killed," the tort claim says.

Christopher Frison (center) says he continues to suffer from nightmares after a DHS agent pulled a gun on him at a hotel in July.

The agent, identified in the tort claim as Jospeh Jones, then lowered his handgun and invited Frison into the room. Frison declined, the claim says. He handed Jones the plunger and left.

Frison then moved quickly past the lobby and walked outside the hotel. On his way out, Frison passed his colleague, Tim Simon, who works as an administrative assistant at the hotel. Simon followed Frison outside to ask what happened.

"His whole body was shaking," Simon wrote in personal statement that accompanies Frison's claim. "I had never seen a grown man so visibly frightened. Over the years working with Chris I have seen him be a dependable hardworking employee who is always level-headed, calm and doesn't let things bother him."

Simon sent Frison home for the rest of the day to decompress.

Three months later, the tort claim says, Frison continues to experience nightmares. His doctor has advised him to take time off work to "heal from the trauma caused by the incident."

"The incident described above caused Mr. Frison to fear for his life," the tort claim says, "and caused him to experience severe ongoing emotional harm including fright and horror."

Frison intends to bring a $1 million claim against DHS and Jones for negligence, assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He is represented by Portland attorney Michael Fuller.

DHS did not respond immediately to a request for comment from WW. Jones could not be reached for comment.

Among other matters, the legal filing sheds some light on a mystery that for weeks drew the speculation of protesters and press: Where were federal agents staying while deployed by President Trump to Portland?

Demonstrators repeatedly protested outside the waterfront Marriott. But this notice, as well as federal charges against a driver who allegedly tried to ram a federal vehicle with his car, suggest the agents were in fact staying on the outskirts of town. The Residence Inn described in the notice is located along the Columbia River, just south of Hayden Island.

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