PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Department of Justice is officially reviewing a Portland detective’s use of force at protests, officials say.
Brent Weisberg, a spokesman for the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, confirmed to KOIN 6 that Portland Police Bureau Detective Erik Kammerer’s use of force is currently under review by the ODOJ. Weisberg said the request for ODOJ involvement was made by District Attorney Mike Schmidt due to a potential conflict of interest in the office.
No details on the use of force have been released — but Kammerer was recently named in a lawsuit filed by a Portland resident who was reportedly beaten by a police officer after being mistaken for a rioter last year. Although PPB officials never confirmed Kammerer’s involvement in the incident, the resident alleges that Kammerer was the one to assault him.
‘Politically motivated’ indictment
This comes shortly after news broke that a Portland Police Bureau officer has been indicted by a grand jury, stemming from an incident during a riot last summer.
On Tuesday afternoon, Schmidt announced PPB Officer Corey Budworth was indicted for one count of 4th-degree assault for allegedly using a baton on a freelance photojournalist during a riot on August 18, 2020. The charge is a misdemeanor.
Daryl Turner, the executive director of the Portland Police Association, said the indictment is “100% politically charged.”
“Police officers are out doing their job during some of the most violent and sustained protests that we’ve ever seen in Portland, or anywhere in the country,” Turner said. “And yet a police officer who is doing his job, trying to protect not only community members, other police officers and property, is indicted.”
Turner expressed frustration over the number of rioting cases Schmidt has dismissed or declined to prosecute. He said officers were only “doing what they were instructed to do and trained to do” during their handling of the city’s protests.
“I know we’re not going to get support from City Hall; I know we’re not going to get support from the DA’s office but we surely need the support of our command structure,” he said. “During these protests, our hands were tied to what we could do, if we were using CS gas we wouldn’t have to worry about the hands-on approach or less-lethal impact munitions. But of course, that was taken away from us and the city did not fight it.”
Turner said he’s concerned the investigation into Kammerer’s actions and indictment against Budworth could lead more officers to resign and make it more difficult for the PPB to recruit new officers. He also worries how it will affect the public’s attitude toward the police. “There’s a feeling of hopelessness out there,” he said. “Community members will look at this and feel hopeless, they will feel helpless.”
As for whether more indictments against PPB officers could follow, Turner said the future is unclear.
“Right now, no one knows what to expect, I will tell you that. There was a belief amongst us that this would not be indicted. There was a belief amongst us that even though we believe the DA’s office had a thirst to indict a police officer, that wouldn’t happen unless it was justified. When you have a police officer that is out doing their job in the most difficult of situations and they’re indicted, that is wrong, that is politically motivated and he’s being used as a scapegoat for someone else’s political agenda.”
Turner stressed that he doesn’t want to protect officers who are in the wrong but he doesn’t believe Budworth is an example of that.
“Definitely if there are ‘bad cops’ — we want bad cops taken care of. This is not a case of a bad cop, this is not a case of anything except for the dynamics of a protest — actually a riot — and the dynamics of officers trying to do their job,” he said.
The PPB and the office of Mayor Ted Wheeler have both declined to comment.
This is a developing story. KOIN 6 News will provide updates when new information is available.