Pedaling By Her Own Rules

A 2003 police report says Eileen Brady told an officer to back off because she had 'close friends' at city hall.

Eight years ago, Eileen Brady ignored a police officer's order to walk her bike through Tom McCall Waterfront Park. It was during the Rose Festival, and police were asking people not to ride their bikes through the crowds. 

When she rode away, the officer pursued her and wrote a ticket that excluded Brady, who's now running for mayor, from the park for 30 days.

The interaction between Officer Isaac Lackey and Brady was unusual. Police often use park exclusions to expel suspected drug dealers and other troublemakers.

Brady wouldn't fit that description. Then 41, she was an executive at Ecotrust, a nonprofit; her husband, Brian Rohter, was CEO of New Seasons Market.

In the scheme of things, breaking a city ordinance isn't that big a deal. But the police report of the incident depicts a view of Brady that's at odds with the smiling, cheerful image she's presented to voters.

After she ignored the officer, according to the report, Brady blew up at him and told him to back off because she was “close friends” with three city commissioners. 

The incident raises questions about how Brady deals with stress and how she would fare commanding the Police Bureau—one of the mayor's primary duties.

Eileen Brady on the Mayor/Police Relationship

Brady recalls the incident was "contentious" and ultimately involved five officers. But she doesn't believe she was doing anything wrong and disagrees with Lackey’s account. “The report is inaccurate,” Brady says. 

All three major mayoral candidates have had faced embarrassing publicity. In June, WW reported that former City Commissioner Charlie Hales, 55, claimed Washington residency for five years, allowing him to avoid paying Oregon taxes—despite voting in Oregon. 

The Oregonian has reported Rep. Jefferson Smith, 38, has an awful driving record and voted infrequently before helping found the Bus Project, a get-out-the-vote group, in 2002. And the Oregon State Bar suspended him three times in the past seven years for failing to pay his dues. 

Brady, 50, has not run for office before. A background check WW performed on all three candidates turned up Officer Lackey's report about the bicycle incident.

Here's what the report says:

At about 7 pm on June 3, 2003, Lackey was patrolling Waterfront Park on a bike. He was just north of the Hawthorne Bridge, asking riders to walk their bikes. 

"While I was talking to a bicyclist on the seawall, I saw Ms. Brady approaching me—riding her bicycle," Lackey wrote in his report. "Ms. Brady looked at me and I told her, 'Please walk your bicycle until you reach the Hawthorne Bridge.' Ms. Brady looked away from me and continued riding her bicycle southbound."

Lackey wrote that he got on his bike, pursued Brady and caught up with her about 300 yards from where he asked her to stop and get off her bike. Along the way, he passed two signs that read "No Bicycles, No Skateboards, No Rollerblades."

"I rode up alongside Ms. Brady and asked her if she didn't hear me when I asked her to walk her bicycle," Lackey wrote. "Ms. Brady said, 'You scared the shit out of me!' This was said in front of two children."

Brady stopped and Lackey parked in front of her.

"She said, 'I want your name and badge number!'" Lackey wrote. "I asked her if she wanted to take this situation 'that far.' She said, 'Yes I do!'"

Lackey asked to see Brady's identification. 

“She first made a phone call and told her son to start recording the conversation,” Lackey wrote. 

Then Brady invoked her City Hall connections.

"Ms. Brady also told me she was 'close friends' with three (3) city commissioners and would hope that my decision would be influenced," Lackey wrote.

After that, his report says, "Ms. Brady threw her bicycle to the ground when I asked for her I.D." At that point, Lackey wrote her a 30-day exclusion from the park.

In an interview with WW, Brady says Lackey's request to dismount was unreasonable; she was away from the Rose Festival crowds. "There were a lot of other riders that day," Brady says. "What we talked about is whether it was a reasonable request. He was mistaken and it [the request] didn't make sense."

Brady says key details in the officer's report are wrong. She says she stopped within 8 feet, not 300 yards, and didn't throw her bike down in anger.

More importantly, Brady also denies threatening him with city commissioner friends. "That is simply not true," she says.

Asked what voters should make of the incident, Brady focused on the officer, not her actions. "All of our citizens should be treated fairly and with respect by the police, and I intend to stand up for them,” Brady says. 

She added, "I was very unhappy that they were spending this much time on a bicycle incident. We have to have a service-oriented city. I would say that all of our front-line employees have got to be there to help citizens."

Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson says Lackey, who joined the force in 2000 and was promoted to forensic criminalist this year, was simply enforcing a parks policy.

"The prohibition on bicyclists in that area during Rose Festival has been long-standing," Simpson says. "The officer gave Ms. Brady opportunities to comply, and they were not taken."

UPDATE: Read Eileen Brady's 2003 letter to Sam Adams following her exclusion from Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

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