PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A city oversight agency has received nearly 100 complaints against police officers related to ongoing protests across Portland.
The City Auditor’s Independent Police Review received a large number of complaints in the first few weeks following George Floyd’s death. According to new data released Wednesday, the IPR and Internal Affairs have opened 97 protest-related cases since complaints started being filed in late May. Forty-nine of those cases contain allegations of excessive use of force.
The number of complaints spiked in June, according to the IPR’s data, with 46 complaints relating to protests compared to 36 others that were not protest-related. KOIN 6 News previously reported the oversight agency has seen what would typically be a year’s worth of cases in the span of a few months, leading to a bottle-neck backup of complaints — many of which were waiting to be processed through the IPR’s intake system.
One of the complaints under review by the IPR was lodged by Elijah Warren. He said his home filled with tear gas several after a clash between protesters and police in Southeast Portland in early September. Warren told KOIN 6 News he went outside to talk to a police officer about the fumes but was struck and injured by a different officer.
“When I was starting up the second conversation to finish what we were talking about, that’s when I was assaulted by an officer — number 67,” Warren said.
Meanwhile, the Citizen Review Committee, which helps develop recommendations to address police service issues, hosted a workgroup meeting about crowd control and the use of force. Participants talked about a recent survey and complaints, many involving the use of tear gas.
The committee also shared the story of one woman from the same Southeast Portland neighborhood as Warren who was also exposed to tear gas.
“They were using tear gas, not just on 82nd, but as they were breaking up the protest further in the neighborhood and of course she’s worried about her children,” said workgroup participant Barbara Christiansen.
Taylor Snell with the CRC said the allegations involving the use of tear gas could be the driving force behind “a really clear policy recommendation.”
The committee also talked about some of the steps they are going to take moving forward, such as launching a pilot program that involves forming a team to document everything that happens at protests. Members of the CRC say they will be researching the idea in the weeks ahead.