Man sues over use of force by Portland officers

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by Michael Rollins, kgw.com staff

NWCN.com

Posted on April 10, 2013 at 10:21 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 4:02 AM

PORTLAND -- A man claims he was beaten by three Portland police officers -- exonerated of any use of excessive force -- and has the video to prove it.

As first reported by Willamette Week, Jason Cox, 39, of Portland, filed a $545,000 lawsuit this week against the Portland Police Bureau, claiming battery, assault and negligence on the part of three officers.

The suit said the bureau knows its training to deal with excessive force is inadequate and allows officers to continue working who could be a danger to the public.

Cox's attorney, Jason Kafoury, has asked for a jury trial.

”I think this is one of the most egregious police abuse cases I have seen in recent memory," Kafoury said.

Police reports provided by Kafoury show the incident began the evening of June 18, 2011 with police pulling over Cox after he was seen leaving a club in a pickup truck that was squealing its tires and fishtailing.

In their reports, police outline a series of events in which Cox was belligerent and declined to cooperate fully with a field sobriety test. He then resisted arrest while being taken into custody.

Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson told Willamette Week that that three officers, Jeffrey Elias, Robert Bruders and Sarah Kerwin, all acted within bureau policy, a conclusion reached by both the Internal Affairs Division and the Independent Police Review Board.

Kafoury said a video from an adjacent business (shown below) suggests otherwise. He claims in the suit that the officers held Cox's hands behind him, then took him to the ground, beating and tasing him, yanking and injuring his left arm and shoulder.

”They say that this was all within bureau policy. How was it within bureau policy to punch somebody seven times in the face when he’s flat on the ground when you have three officers on him?” questioned Kafoury.

Cox required surgery on the shoulder, leading to medical expenses and lost time at work. The beating also left injuries to his face and body, according to the suit.

More: Read the lawsuit

In the police reports, an officer said Cox told him he had been a military police officer. The officer then had heightened concern for his own safety, knowing the training that Cox had likely received in hand-to-hand combat and that he appeared drunk.

The officer said Cox was unsteady on his feet. After declining to follow field sobriety test instructions, it was decided to take Cox into custody, police said. Cox reportedly tensed up, refused orders to spread his feet, instead pulling one back. He went into a fighting stance.

The report said Cox was taken to the ground, resisting arrest despite pleas by the officers to stop. His arm was pinned under his body. There was fear he was going for a weapon. An officer put a knee into Cox's back to get leverage to free the arm.

Another officer had used a Taser at least three times on Cox with no effect. Police ruled out using pepper spray, which could have affected the officers as well as Cox. They also ruled out drawing their service weapons, which would have created a deadly situation, and decided punching Cox was the only alternative left to them to control him.

More: Read the police reports 

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