A county grand jury is poised to determine whether two Portland police officers will face felony assault charges and the prospect of nearly six years behind bars for their role in an alleged beating downtown in January, Willamette Week has learned.
The alleged beating, which occurred on the evening of Jan. 24 when the officers were off duty, is being described in law-enforcement circles as "brutal."
Although the officers' names have not been officially disclosed, WW has learned that they are Grant Bailey of Central Precinct and Craig Hampton of North Precinct.
Police sources say Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schrunk's office is seeking an indictment for felony assault. That means, under Oregon's mandatory-minimum sentencing law, Bailey and Hampton could face 70 months in state prison. According to Keri Ashford of the state Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, state records show that no police officers have been convicted under Oregon's tough-sentencing law since it was approved by voters in 1994.
The Measure 11 charge reportedly being sought against the two officers, second-degree assault, requires either serious physical injury or that a weapon be involved. A grand jury will determine whether the facts of the case support a Measure 11 indictment, or whether lesser charges, if any, are warranted. That determination could be made as early as Tuesday, April 30. Schrunk declined to comment on the case other than to say he hoped his investigation would be concluded "as soon as possible."
When the investigation was first revealed to the public earlier this month, Portland Police Chief Mark Kroeker said investigators were also looking at whether supervisors omitted "critical" information from their reports on the case.
Police sources confirm that the investigation involves higher-ups at Central Precinct who may have attempted to protect their subordinates by intentionally downplaying or mishandling the incident after it was reported. Lt. Gabe Kalmanek and at least one sergeant are believed to be a focus of that investigation. If sufficient evidence is found, they could face a charge of hindering prosecution, a felony.
In initial reports, one or both of the officers were said to have called the victim a "faggot." This caused Mayor Vera Katz to describe the incident as a potential hate crime. However, investigators have reportedly determined that the initial assault was not motivated by bias toward any ethnic or sexual minority.
The probe is being handled by a multijurisdictional major-crimes team, including a detective from the Gresham Police Department. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also looking at the matter to determine whether the victim's civil rights were violated. This means that, even if the local authorities decide not to file charges, the U.S. Attorney's office could.
The incident apparently began when the two officers argued with the alleged victim inside Stephanos, a bar at Southwest 12th Avenue and Washington Street. Following the argument, the officers left, and the man left a short while later. It is unclear whether the two officers waited for the man to exit. The man was allegedly assaulted on 10th Avenue outside the Hi-School Pharmacy.
Both officers are relatively new to the force. Bailey has been with the department for a little more than three years; Hampton is still a probationary trainee, having been hired less than 18 months ago. They have been on administrative leave since March 8.