Aren't Portland Police just stellar?
Went by the courthouse today to support a friend who had trial for hanging a peace banner on a bridge facing the Navy boats during the Rose Festival last summer. It was a pretty silly affair, the plan was for hanging the banner in a completely legal way, but the cops decided to lie about her posture and say that she was violating a city code forbidding the "leaning of a torso over the rail of the bridge". They slammed her for a fine for violating the city code as per what the cops said. That's all well and great, but what was really interesting was the trial that started before hers then was halted and restarted later...
Apparently one Ms. Crowler was having an administrative search warrant served on her mother's home for excess yard debris or something. Ms. Crowler is 72 years old, legally deaf and blind, and lives in North Portland. The city agent was apparently showing her around the property, telling her she had to get rid of an "inside chair", a toilet bowl used as a flower planter, when Ms. Crowler noticed that an antique Red Flyer wagon that she rubbed against on the way out of the house was missing. She demanded that it come back and the city agent denied having taken it. She asked where the removed property was going and he said that contractors were loading it into a large truck with trailer.
Ms. Crowler worked her way over to the truck and wanted to climb in. The agent said she couldn't for liability reasons. She asked him to and he refused. She asked him who could climb in the truck and he said "the police". She pulled out her braille cell phone and was going to call 911, when the agent said he could get the police faster. She attempted to cross the street, but ran into the tongue of the trailer, which she couldn't see, and barked her shin. She stepped back up on the curb and raised the injured leg to the bumper of the truck. Meanwhile the police have arrived.
Here is where by all accounts things get confusing. One Officer Miller arrives without identifying himself to this blind woman, and steps on her one grounded foot while grabbing her arm. She eludes his grasp and he hits her, dislodging her prosthetic eye. She claims she raised her arm to her face and started working her jaw to reset it in place, he claims she was trying to bite him. So he threw her to the ground, and attempted to handcuff her, suffering kicks to the shin (apparently this frail woman who felt like she was under attack by who she supposed must have been the contractors, was quite a handfull for the officer).
The court suppressed many of the following events, because it claimed they weren't related to the charges of harassment and disobeying a police order, and also I'm sure because there is a civil suit against the city over the matter. But apparently she was then pepper-sprayed in both her real and false eye, and then another Officer Zajac tasered her several times in the back and once on the breast.
Meanwhile Ms. Crowler's 90 year-old-plus mother comes out of the house and yells at the officers to leave her daughter alone, tells them she's deaf, blind, has a bad back, etc. She shuffled back inside to get cold water for the pepper-spray, and an officer reportedly followed her because "he felt she might be going for a gun". When she re-emerged with a bowl of water, she too was tackled to the ground.
Obviously the police arrived on this scene unaware of the specific disabilities which led to this "taser incident", and the judge found their conduct appropriate. But I feel like any sane, deep-breathing human being would have to conclude that their conduct was unreasonable merely because of the age of their victim. Not to mention her relatively harmless initial position of resting a foot on the bumper of a vehicle. But our police are trained to issue orders (legal or illegal) and when they aren't immediately followed, to escalate to insane violence. Hopefully the city lawsuit will have some influence on these rogue cops.
By the way, the judge ruled to dismiss the case. He forgot her testimony about her having rubbed against the missing wagon, and concluded that "reasonably" it must have been stolen by an independent party, not the city agents or contractors. He also "determined" that she must have become incoherently confused and got "out of control", ultimately ruling that she wasn't competent to follow the police orders that she most likely couldn't hear, and didn't know were coming from police. Her lawyer presented her case amazingly well and will be representing her in the civil suit. I tried to get a picture of Ms. Crowler, her mother, and the attorney, but unfortunately my camera batteries died.
phone: (503) 493-7495
contribute to this article
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion