Wrong-way police pursuit could cost Portland $125k

Portland

A Portland police vehicle at a crime scene. (KOIN, file)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland City Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a $125,000 settlement with a cab driver injured during a Portland police officer’s wrong-way pursuit down Interstate 84. 

The settlement would pay Ethiopia Amdino “to avoid the risk of an adverse jury award” if the matter goes to court, according to the ordinance. 

The officer involved, Alfonso Valadez Jr. resigned his Oregon law enforcement certification on Sept. 20 2019 after a Portland Police Bureau disciplinary review board approved firing him.

Amdino was driving a Toyota Prius for Broadway Taxi on Interstate 84 on April 19, 2018, when he was struck head-on by Christopher Cannard, 59, who was fleeing police in a white Toyota Celica. 

Cannard died and Amdino’s cab was totaled. Amdino was transported to a hospital for treatment. Amdino’s attorney Phillip C. Gilbert, did not immediately respond to a question about the extent of Amdino’s inuries. 

The Portland Tribune first reported that Valadez was the officer involved, and that he’d already been fired once before the wrong-way pursuit. 

In 2015, he was accused of forcing a woman to have oral sex and intercourse with him while she was intoxicated and unable to consent at a party he held at his house while off-duty. The results of the investigation caused then-Chief Mike Marshman to fire Valadez in 2017. 

But an independent arbitrator ruled that the firing was not justified and returned Valadez to work. The officer had been back on the job for only two weeks when he began chasing Cannard. 

The incident was “horrifying on a lot of levels,” Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch told the Tribune at the time.

That chase was later found to be a violation of the city’s pursuit policy, which calls for chases to be objectively reasonable. Cannard had been involved in a minor hit-and-run in which no one was injured. 

That’s when Valadez spotted Cannard’s Celica in the 1300 block of Northeast 99th Ave. and attempted to stop him. 

While fleeing from Valadez, Cannard drove the wrong way onto eastbound I-84 from 99th, and Valadez pursued him. 

The bureau’s police review board unanimously found that the pursuit violated the bureau’s pursuit policy and created “an undue risk to public safety.” Afterward, when interviewed about his actions, Valadez “statements were evasive and deceptive to avoid responsibility and discipline,” the review board found. 

The bureau referred the case to the state Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, which is currently investigating whether to revoke the former officer’s police certification.

The Portland Tribune is a KOIN 6 News media partner

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