Last week, the US Justice Department’s civil rights division issued a report stating that Portland, Oregon police too often use “unnecessary or unreasonable force” on people with mental illness. The authors of the letter wrote, “We also found that PPB [Portland Police Bureau] employs practices that escalate the use of force where there were clear earlier junctures when the force could have been avoided or minimized.” They specifically cited a 2010 instance where officers repeated punched and used tasers on an individual with mental health issues – causing severe personal injuries.
The result of the Justice Department’s investigation hardly came as a surprise to many Oregonians, who are accustomed to hearing of the Portland Police Bureau’s rather physical and violent way of dealing with offenders of all types, mentally ill or not. In 2008, the PPB was involved in a lawsuit brought by a woman who had been beat up during a traffic stop. In 2009, three men who were beaten up and tased during another fight on St. Patricks’ Day were awarded $175,000 when the jury agreed that the Portland police had used excessive brutality in breaking up the fight. In 2010, they were sued by the family of college student Daniel Collins, who was beaten and tased during a fight he wasn’t a part of at a Portland nightclub. The case is going before a jury this year. In all of these cases – and the many others like them – officers of the public safety caused great personal injury to individuals.
Even worse, the police often use their guns in dealing with people. In these cases, the personal injuries can be even more serious, not to mention the emotional trauma that results from such a situation, for both the victim and his or her family. Just last week, a Portland man shot in the stomach during a police operation in north Portland filed a lawsuit against the Portland police officers who shot him in his front doorway, with his wife and children in the house behind him. He spent weeks in intensive care recovering from his gun-inflicted personal injury.
Most of us assume that the police exist to protect us and to keep our roads safe. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, as the Portland police department demonstrates. If you’ve sustained personal injuries in an encounter with the police, whether a physical beating or a gun injury, you can get help recovering your expenses for medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering with the help of an experienced attorney. Call us, and we will refer you to an attorney who can help: 888-700-4337