In a city reeling from confrontational protests of police, ideologically motivated property damage, and lethal gunfire, charging documents seeking criminal indictments have become required daily reading—almost like the weather report.
Who gets indicted and why is always a decision of political significance. But with Portland engaged in a bitter argument over the future of criminal justice, the announcement that officials will pursue an indictment sometimes feels akin to a campaign platform: Local officials, especially embattled Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt, are declaring to citizens what acts they won’t tolerate. And the charging documents offer insight into the tactics now employed by people on both sides of the law.
Here are three charging documents released in the past week that stood out.
Date of incident: April 13
Crime alleged: Arson of the Portland Police Association headquarters on North Lombard Street
Person charged: Alma Raven-Guido, 19
Why it matters: The most substantial information in the probable cause affidavit filed April 14 by the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office comes from the alleged firsthand account of an unnamed police informant. That suggests that when protesters in “black bloc” garb marched to the police union hall and some of them set its doorway on fire, among their ranks was a mole. The strongest piece of evidence against Raven-Guido (recently a University of Oregon journalism student) is the word of an informant with a history of providing “credible and reliable information on multiple prior investigations.” Word that someone in the black bloc was informing to police sparked rancor among activists on social media last week—but did not seem to hamper further vandalism.
Date of incident: April 16
Crimes alleged: Vandalism of the Oregon Historical Society and First Christian Church
People charged: Theodore Matthee-O’Brien, 22, and Cameron Millar-Griffin, 24
Why it matters: Riots in downtown Portland following the police killing of Robert Delgado (see page 8) carved a remarkable swath of property damage—including to a history museum and a church. Schmidt, the DA, announced indictments of two suspects on April 19—a swift turnaround that suggests his office realizes how public opinion has soured on such actions by police abolitionists and other leftists. Both men charged Monday are white: Matthee-O’Brian, a Reed College senior, is accused of breaking windows at the historical society, while Millar-Griffin, who is unemployed, is charged with breaking windows at the museum and the church. Millar-Griffin, easily spotted by a shock of red hair, was also identified by a police informant, an affidavit says.
Date of incident: Aug. 5
Crime alleged: Illegally possessing firearms after previous criminal convictions
People indicted: Samuel Mason Jr., 24, and Cocoa Taplin, 26
Why it matters: The U.S. Attorney’s Office on April 19 announced the indictment of Mason and Taplin, who federal prosecutors say are members of the Hoover gang. It shows the FBI is taking an interest in the spike in shootings across Portland over the past year. (When the feds executed a search warrant on Mason’s home, they say they found an assault rifle, a 9 mm pistol with the serial number sawed off, and photos of Mason and Taplin posing with guns. Mason “also admitted to being shot at the week prior and firing one round in return from a third unknown gun,” federal prosecutors said in a statement.) Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler recently inked a deal to partner with the FBI on gun violence investigations. His spokesman says this investigation preceded that partnership.
Correction: In its print version, this story incorrectly conflated charging documents and indictments. In several of these cases, officials are still seeking indictments from a grand jury. WW regrets the error.