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Open Letter Urging Indictment for Corrections Officer David Thompson

David Thompson, the corrections officer who bragged on an internet message board "I crushed some dude's eye socket . . . then I charged him with menacing and harrassment (of me)" (http: www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=118911391052032000) is not being indicted. ( http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=120725254318626800). Contact DA Shrunk and County Chair Wheeler to express your concern on this matter.
April 22, 2008


Open Letter Urging Indictment for Corrections Officer David Thompson


District Attorney Schrunk:

We are writing to urge you to move forward with an indictment against
David Thompson, the corrections officer who bragged that he assaulted an
inmate and then charged that inmate with harassment of him. It is shocking
and disturbing that no charges are being brought in this case because,
your office has said, there is not enough evidence. The implication of
Thompson's statements, including that the inmate took a plea "to get away
from [Thompson]" matches the inmate's description of the incident as being
an unprovoked attack by a law enforcement officer. The fact that Thompson
exaggerated certain parts of this incident is not enough reason to
overlook the similarities between Thompson's description of the incident
in his Internet postings and the inmate's description of the incident.

We believe it's not accurate to say that there is not enough evidence to
bring charges against Thompson. Because of Thompson's internet posting (as
reported in the Portland Tribune*), this case is not merely one man's word
against another. Perhaps at this time there's not enough evidence to prove
beyond a reasonable doubt that Thompson is guilty of an unprovoked attack
on this inmate (the standard to convict), but there is probable cause to
suspect that he is (the standard to indict). Even if Thompson exaggerated
the extent of the inmate's injuries--saying the man's eye socket was
"crushed" when actually his eyeball was "bruised and swollen"--does not
mean his use of force was justifiable, appropriate, or legal. Just as we
encouraged you to pursue a grand jury in the case of a Portland officer
who used deadly force against an unarmed man who was injured, we are
asking you now to pursue an indictment because it is not so much a
question of the extent of injury as it is a question of whether the
officer's behavior violates the law. Whether or not Thompson is actually
guilty should be up to a jury.

Thompson and all jail workers have a difficult job. They also have a lot
of power. Inmates are in a vulnerable position because they are locked up,
which is why it is important to assure that the power that corrections
officers have is not abused. Not bringing charges against Thompson sends a
clear message that law enforcement officers are above the law and that
inmate safety is a low priority.

If it would be an unusual step for your office to bring charges in this
case, please consider that such action is warranted to preserve public
trust in the justice system.

In this case, we understand that Thompson is being investigated for
possible misconduct, but those investigations are being conducted by
fellow Sheriff's employees and state law enforcement. Impartial civilian
investigations will eliminate any internal politics, such as those Sheriff
Giusto used to minimize discipline for the officer who misused his badge
to pull over women and look under their clothing for tattoos under false
pretenses.

We are copying this letter to County Chair Ted Wheeler, who has taken on
the responsibility of some of the disciplinary functions of the Multnomah
County Sheriff's Office (MCSO). Since your office recognized the drop in
Internal Affairs investigations at the MCSO, we hope you will join us in
suggesting that Chair Wheeler go beyond having his Human Resources
director handle misconduct complaints and institute an independent
civilian review board for the Sheriff's office. With the increased
attention on Portland's review board and its need for more authority to
gain public trust, now is a perfect time for the County to consider an
independent board. Perhaps in conjunction with the DA's office, the County
board could also have an independent prosecutor to handle criminal cases
against law enforcement officers. This would be a good way to eliminate
the conflict of interest your office has in prosecuting law enforcement
officers whom you rely on to convict civilians of crimes.

We look forward to your response on this matter.

Sincerely,

Dan Handelman, Regina Hannon, Linda Tomassi
and other members of Portland Copwatch

cc: County Chair Ted Wheeler
County Commissioners Lisa Naito, Maria Rojo de Steffey, Lonnie Roberts and
Jeff Cogen

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Contact DA Shrunk and County Chair Wheeler at the following addresses to express your concern that Thompson is not being indicted:

District Attorney Mike Schrunk
Multnomah County Courthouse
1021 S.W. Fourth Avenue, Room 600
Portland, OR 97204
 da@mcda.us

County Chair Ted Wheeler
501 SE Hawthorne
Portland, OR 97214
 mult.chair@co.multnomah.or.us