PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Portland resident who was reportedly beaten by a police officer after being mistaken for a rioter is now filing a lawsuit.
In a press conference on Tuesday morning, Elijah Warren and his lawyer, Jason Kafoury, announced they have filed a $400,000 lawsuit against the city of Portland for negligence and battery. Kafoury said the suit is seeking damages for the physical injuries inflicted upon Warren, as well as the emotional suffering he endured following the incident.
“We’re claiming the city is negligent because they’ve never punished officers for hurting citizens — and that has created a system where the police feel they can just hurt a citizen and never face any punishment,” Kafoury said.
Warren said his Southeast Portland home was filled with tear gas on Sept. 5, 2020, after police declared a riot on the 100th consecutive night of protests in the city. The declaration was made after someone threw what authorities described as firebombs toward police. More than 50 people were arrested that night.
Some neighbors were caught in the crossfire between protesters and police and said tear gas leaked into their homes. Warren said his home was so full of gas, his 13-year-old son and his friend were screaming inside their home, trying to wash out their eyes in the sink.
“I open the door to the garage that leads to my kitchen—as soon as I open the door, my eyes immediately started burning. The whole house is filled with tear gas,” said Warren. “I don’t even know what it is at the time because I don’t know what’s going on.”
When Warren exited his house to speak with a nearby officer about what was happening, another officer allegedly approached him and hit him on the head with a baton — apparently mistaking him for one of the rioters.
On Tuesday, PPB confirmed to KOIN 6 a detective named in the lawsuit, Erik Kammerer, was currently employed by the Bureau. Officials did not specify Kammerer’s involvement in the incident.
Warren said the incident left him bleeding and concussed. In addition to the physical trauma endured, Warren was stuck with medical bills totaling more than $1,000. He was also given an inhaler for the lingering side effects from the tear gas.
“The emotional part is still like the biggest thing, even over the physical injuries, not letting my son go too far out of my sight now,” Warren said.
His son, Jaelin Warren, said he’s afraid of walking in the neighborhood and sticks close to his dad.
“I didn’t know it was the police who hit me at first, so my first instinct was to protect myself,” Warren said during Tuesday’s presser. “Then when I realized who hit me, a little more fear kicked in because how do I protect myself from the person supposed to be protecting me?”
Kafoury said the use of force exemplified the pattern seen by the PPB throughout the more than 100 days of protests last summer.
“It’s pretty clear the Portland police officer targeted him because he was Black and thought he was a protester, and therefore could use whatever force he wanted to,” Kafoury said. “We’re hoping to show for the citizens that this is not going to stand in our city.”
When asked what he would say to the officer who allegedly assaulted him, Warren told reporters, “I would tell him to quit.”
Tears welled in Warren’s eyes as he looked towards his son sitting by his side.
“At the end of the day, my son shouldn’t have to fear the police — and I shouldn’t have to fear my son walking outside and not coming back because of the police,” he said. “So I would honestly tell [the officer] to quit.”