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District Attorney Declines to Prosecute Portland Police Officers After Criminal Probe of Excessive Use of Force at Protests

The DA’s office says it is still reviewing four cases for potential criminal prosecution.

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced Friday that, after months of review for potential criminal prosecution, his office has declined to prosecute 12 protest-related cases involving Portland Police Bureau officers.

The Portland officers whose cases were cleared include Officer Thomas Clark, who WW previously reported was alleged to have punched a protest medic while wearing gloves with reinforced knuckles, and Officer Brent Taylor, who has faced multiple accusations of excessive force and was removed from crowd management duty earlier this year.

Schmidt on Friday said he became aware of “several claims of excessive force by law enforcement against civilians” during 2020 Portland protests.

“These claims are disturbing and further rupture the trust between our community and the criminal justice system,” Schmidt said. “My office received these cases through direct complaints, civil lawsuits, social media posts, videos and plaintiff’s attorneys. In response, I directed my staff to review these cases.”

He notes that, in June, a Multnomah County grand jury indicted PPB Officer Corey Budworth for striking a woman with his baton during an August 2020 protest—the first protest-related excessive force indictment in the county in recent history.

“In several that remained, we found no legal basis to pursue criminal charges under current law,” Schmidt said. “In an effort to bring transparency to these conclusions, our office has produced and made publicly available two explanatory memos detailing the circumstances of these complaints and the legal framework within which our office has the authority to review such cases. I encourage members of the public to review the memos published with this statement.”

As WW first reported in June, Schmidt announced Friday that his office received 21 protest-related complaints against PPB officers, and that it investigated 17. The remaining four, Schmidt says, were complaints against “Officer 67,” whose real name is Detective Erik Kammerer. Last November, the DA’s office referred the complaints against Kammerer to the Oregon Department of Justice for further investigation. (DOJ spokeswoman Kristina Edmunson says, as of Sept. 3, the Kammerer probe is still ongoing.)

Of those 17 cases, the DA’s office says it closed out eight complaints against “unknown officers”; a complaint against Taylor stemming from an August 2020 protest; the complaint filed by protest medic Tyler Cox against Officer Thomas Clark; a complaint against PPB Officer Stephen Perry, who was accused of stealing a protester’s guitar; and a complaint that unnamed “PPB officer(s)” stole a protester’s speaker system.

Schmidt released an extensive memo in response to Cox’s allegations against Clark. Specifically, Schmidt addressed Cox’s claim that Clark wore reinforced gloves when he punched Cox in the face after removing his helmet.

“The available evidence directly refutes that claim,” the DA wrote. “Officer Clark said he was not wearing that type of gloves that day. The video evidence from that night does not show him wearing that type of gloves. Medical records and photographs of Mr. Cox following the incident show that he suffered a single hematoma to the left side of his head in an area covered by both his hairline and his helmet. Small visible abrasions to Mr. Cox’s forehead and hairline, near where his helmet padding would likely have been, are present in the photographs he provided.

“However,” the memo continues, “these small abrasions are not consistent with his description of being struck in the face five times by a person wearing gloves with plastic reinforced knuckles. The evidence is consistent with Officer Clark’s statement, that Officer Clark hit Mr. Cox in the helmet, not the face.”

The district attorney’s office says it is still reviewing four cases for potential criminal prosecution.