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Ellis Excessive Force Appeal Goes to Full Hearing

On March 16, 2004, the Citizens Review Committee (CRC) of the Independent Police Review Division (IPR) held its monthly meeting in Portland City Hall. CRC meetings are open to the public.

On the CRC's agenda at this meeting was Bill Ellis, a Portlander in his mid-20s, who appealed the IPR's denial of his claims of excessive force against numerous Portland police officers during a war protest on March 25, 2003. Video taken by several cameras at the scene on SW Fifth Avenue and Taylor Street show Portland police officer Leo Besner approaching Ellis on a bicycle. As Ellis ambles up the sidewalk, protest sign in hand and accompanied by a large group of peaceful protestors, officer Besner instructs him to 'come here.' Seconds later, Besner grabs Ellis' arm and swings him out into the street, throwing Ellis off-balance as Ellis tries to avoid falling over Besner's bicycle. Ellis is body-blocked, slammed head-first into the pavement, handcuffed, and pepper sprayed in the eyes from point blank range while dozens of stunned demonstrators look on in disbelief.
The CRC has been in possession of Ellis' street video for weeks. What's new this night at the appeal hearing is the video played for the committee by Ellis' attorney Steven J. Sherlag, video shot by an officer from the Portland Police Bureau's Identification/Criminalistics Division. On this video, an unidentified officer from the Portland Rapid Response Team (RRT) tells the police cameraman to point the camera at 'the guy [Ellis] with the sign'. The same officer then tells the cameraman that he was told that Ellis is a 'leader' of the protestors, which attorneys say may be a violation of state law outlawing police monitoring of non-criminal suspects.

Moments later the police video captures a third angle of Ellis' arrest, this one from the passenger seat of an RRT truck carrying a squad of riot police down SW 5th Avenue.

After hearing Ellis' appeal, during which Sherlag displayed video of the incident on a wall of the Committee's meeting room, a sharply divided Committee voted 5-4 to send Ellis' case to a full appeal hearing at a date to be announced.

Attached is an audio file of the hearing that lasts about 10 minutes.
POLICE/DA/IAD/IPR/CRC are a joke 11.Apr.2004 19:59

been there, done that

It seems as if all these groups work as one entity. Their goal: to protect the police, take away our human and civil rights, and make sure justice is not served.

seriously, 12.Apr.2004 01:09


over there at city hall have the authority to prevent us from taking over the seats on the CRC?? Unless we know that they can stop us, why don't we just do it? After all, it's OUR committee, and we're paying for it. If we're intelligent enough to vote in any other election, we're intelligent enough to make any other important decision!!! We need to quit complaining about the joker/criminals, and make this a government of the people, by the people, and for the people!! Someone should do it, because I'm sure the pay is decent, and there are a lot of people/families out there who could use the money...

Witness of this arrest 12.Apr.2004 14:32

willing to testify mesa(at)rdrop.com

I even took pictures, tried to get hooked up through the legal support team, never heard back. If anyone wants me to testify, email me.

"non-criminal suspects" 13.Apr.2004 06:00


after looking at it again, i think that the phrase "non-criminal suspects" in the original article should be shortened to "non-criminals".

to use the term "suspect" is to concede that a completely innocent person has reason to expect to be beaten and abused by police when walking down the sidewalk.

sadly, if you listen to the comments of one of the committee members during the vote on a motion for full hearing, this is the mindset of most people in positions of authority. ellis was targeted illegally and brutally attacked, yet the burden is on him to explain why he should not have had his ass kicked by the portland police.

ellis was jumped by at least two officers who sit on a handcuffed ellis' back and head, driving his knees and head into the pavement. citing officers' dire need to have their suspects "prone on the ground", the dissenting crc member, a former multnomah county prosecutor, attempts to justify the use of pepper spray on ellis' eyes from inches away from his face.

thanks 13.Apr.2004 13:23

hey spectator

issues of police brutality and excessive/lethal force is a huge issue in this town right now. Thanks for this important post regarding yet another brutality case coming up in concert with the other eye opening cases in our recent past! We must protect human rights and demand conscience from the city of Portland and its policy makers. We are the community that can do it! And we do it through representation: Calling, writing, and speaking out. Organizing ourselves and others around this issue. Is there a pamphlet out summing up the issue of police brutality in Portland? What violations have occured and what must specifically be done for accountability? Accountability now!

contitutional rights are being abolished 14.Feb.2007 12:28

martin Greer mgreer12@tampabayrr.com

The new taser gun is now being used to kill unarmed persons not involved in any crime strange dangerous or threatening activity. The justification for the use of this less lethal force is arguable belief that a crime or dangerous action may occur anytime in the future with evidence not required only hearsay word of third party who may not know or have ever soken to vicitim. 4th amendment probable cuase no longer exists with courts allowing immunity to all governments and all of their employees for following official procedures. In Florida over 116,00 people are shot beaten tortured and incarcerated every year with no weapons no threats no violence no criminal charges using arguable belief of possible future mental illness, as determined by ordinary police officers, to attack handcuff and incarcerate people indefinetely with no right to a judge jury or lawyer because the courts have ruled this a civil arrest. I was treated like this and lost life savings, own business, house car and sailboat ending up homeless and penniless until I finally got my SS pension at 63 years old. ZEIG HEIL ZEIG HEIL ZEIG HEIL TO OUR NAZI GOVERNMENT GROWTH. A Dist Judge here in Florida has ruled that the Taser is not a weapon when used by police but an electric form of pursuasion. A 60 year old man sitting inhis back yard was taser shot dead because a female neighbor wanted to swim nude in her pool and asked him to leave his yard and he didn't so she called 911 and reported him as a burgelor. Hillsborough deputy arrived and ordered him to roll face down on ground to be handcuffed and he remained seated showed hands and reported that this was his house when he was shot dead with taser. Court ruled for immunity to Sheriff and individual deputy

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