Portland Police Crowd Control Unit Resigns After Officer Indictment
Photo by Wesley Mc Lachlan via Unsplash
As a group, the members of Portland Police Bureau’s (PPB) Rapid Response Team (RRT) quit their voluntary assignment after officer Corey Budworth was indicted for assaulting photojournalist Teri Jacobs in Portland’s riots last August. This included 50 sergeants, officers and detectives.
The Rapid Response Team received specialized training in how to properly handle policing in the case of an immediate threat, including “man-made or natural disasters.” Among these duties is crowd control during a protest.
Despite this training, Portland police have been criticized multiple times for poorly handling protests and riots, including instances of unlawful force in the past. According to legal documents filed for the Department of Justice, the PPB officers used force more than 6,000 times last year between May 29 and Nov. 15.
Budworth’s assault on Jacobs became the first instance where an officer was indicted as a result. The indictment followed Jacobs’ civil lawsuit against the city and the police bureau for the unethical violence, which resulted in a $50,000 settlement with the city.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, however, continued to investigate and charge Budworth. The officer was placed on paid administrative leave on the count of fourth-degree assault.
“In this case, we allege that no legal justification existed for Officer Budworth’s deployment of force, and that the deployment of force was legally excessive under the circumstances,” said District Attorney Mike Schmidt in a video statement.
In the video that gained traction on Twitter, Budworth can be seen using his baton to push Jacobs, striking her once more in the head after she fell to the ground. The Portland Police Association defended Budworth’s actions, saying that he was just trying to “restore order during a chaotic night of burning and destruction.” In the same statement, the association deemed it as a “politically driven charging decision.”
“Unfortunately, this decorated public servant has been caught in the crossfire of agenda-driven city leaders and a politicized criminal justice system,” the Portland Police Association labor union said in a Facebook statement.
“Don’t blame them one bit,” citizen Bobbie Abernathy-Bebereia commented in response to the Facebook post. “Please know the officers of PPB are supported and appreciated by law abiding citizens in and outside the city limits…. Given how this department has been treated for over a year now, if they ALL decided to throw in the towel, I wouldn’t blame them a bit!”
The members of the RRT resigned in solidarity with their fellow officer and his decisions during the protest, yet all remain employed with their regular assignments.