The entire Portland Police Crowd Control Unit resigned from its assignment a day after an Oregon grand jury indicted an officer for allegedly using illegal force against a protester.
The Portland Police Department said members of its Rapid Response Team (RRT) resigned as a group on Wednesday. About 50 officers, detectives and sergeants make up the team, Acting Police Chief Chris Davis said at a press briefing on Thursday.
Members of the RRT, which is a voluntary mission, receive advanced specialist training to respond to incidents such as law enforcement as well as natural and man-made disasters. Their main role is to control crowds at events, including demonstrations.
All of the members who resigned from the team are still employed by the Portland Police Force and will continue their regular duties, the office said in a statement.
The massive resignation came a day after Officer Corey Budworth was indicted by a Multnomah County grand jury on one count of fourth degree assault after being charged with unlawfully causing physical injury to someone. one at a demonstration on August 18, 2020, near Multnomah. Building.
“In this case, we allege that no legal justification existed for the deployment of Officer Budworth’s force, and that the force’s deployment was legally excessive in the circumstances,” District Attorney Mike Schmidt said. in a video statement.
Budworth, who was a member of the RRT, was put on administrative leave. His lawyer could not be reached immediately on Friday.
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement Tuesday that he could not “provide further details” on the officer’s indictment. The Portland Police Association called it a “politically motivated indictment decision.”
“Sadly, this decorated official has been caught in the crossfire of agenda-driven city leaders and a politicized criminal justice system,” the union said in a Facebook post.
The association said Budworth was attempting to “restore order during a chaotic night of fires and destruction” when he was knocked to the ground as he tried to extricate protesters.
As an officer tried to stop one of the protesters, other protesters reportedly intervened, the union said. Budworth used his police-issued baton to “push” a protester, knocking the person to the ground, the union said. Believing that the person was going to get up “to re-engage,” Budworth allegedly tried to push the person away with his baton but “accidentally hit” the person in the head, according to the union.
Police at the time said the protest was a riot, saying traffic was blocked, the Multnomah building had been vandalized and several fires had been started. As police tried to disperse the crowd, she was hit by projectiles, the department said in a statement.
Teri Jacobs identified herself as the protester who was hit by Budworth’s stick. She then filed a civil complaint saying she was working as a photojournalist when the officer threw her to the ground, according to the Associated Press. The city settled the lawsuit earlier this year for $ 50,000.
Acting Chief Davis said RRT members raised Budworth’s indictment among many other things when he resigned.
“I think it’s really the culmination of a very long process and it’s not just an indictment that caused this,” he said. “I think it really has very deep roots.”
Davis went on to say that the RRT has experienced “incredible” challenges over the past 14 months and the team has raised many concerns for the office to resolve.
“I just want to recognize how difficult these times are, how difficult they have been… since the start of the pandemic,” he said. “Certainly quite simply the conversation and national events following the murder of George Floyd and the enormous stress that has been placed on all of our organization, certainly the members of RRT, as a result of some very difficult times that they have lived. has passed. “
The Oregon District Attorney’s Office also addressed the resignations in a statement.
“Communities across the country have faced many challenges over the past year as they attempt to address racial inequalities in the wake of the murder of George Floyd,” Scott Erik Asphaug, Acting United States District Attorney for the District of Oregon, and Kieran L. Ramsey, Special Agent in charge of the FBI in Oregon said in a joint statement.
“In Portland, these challenges included large and sometimes violent protests that strained our local resources and repeatedly placed officers in the difficult position of controlling large and sometimes hostile crowds. As law enforcement officials, we recognize that community members and law enforcement officials are accountable for their conduct and that our justice system is designed to deal with wrongdoing equally, so that ‘they are committed by members of the community or law enforcement agents.
Davis said the resignations would not interfere with police response to public order situations. He added that he is in communication with other law enforcement agencies to ensure there is a plan in place to provide protection.