‘Not made of steel’: Navy vet recounts beating by fed officers

2020 Protests

Chris David said field medics came to his rescue after the incident

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A veteran was beaten by federal officers with batons during demonstrations outside the Federal Courthouse and Justice Center in downtown Portland on Saturday night, the 51st consecutive night of protests against police brutality in the city. On Sunday, that man said he’s recovering at home, but will likely need a few surgeries on his hand as a result of the night before.

This is the video that captured the nation’s attention this weekend, shot by Portland Tribune reporter Zane Sparling. It shows Chris David, a Navy veteran, being struck repeatedly by federal law enforcement officers outside the courthouse building. You can read his account of the night here.

“I stood there with my hands down by my sides and they just started whaling on me,” said David.

He said he had taken the bus downtown to attend the protest and wanted to ask federal officers a specific question.

“I stood in the street in front of them and I started asking them if it was okay to violate their oath of the Constitution,” said David. He said one of the men shoved him backward.

“I lose my balance and fall backwards a bit, and then plant myself,” described David. “That’s right when they start beating me.”

A Navy veteran named Chris David (backpack sweatshirt) is beaten and peppers-sprayed by federal officers in downtown Portland, July 18, 2020 (Screen grabs from tweet by Zane Sparling of the Portland Tribune)

“They kept hitting me with batons and I think they decided that wasn’t going to work, so the two pepper spray hits I think I took, and that ended that,” said David. “That was not fun, so I flipped them off and walked to the corner of the park as best I could and I was losing my vision. I was walking through a giant cloud of CS gas.”

David said he sat on a park bench and a field medic named Tav came to his rescue and guided him to someone’s car.

“I couldn’t see at all. I could only see shapes, vague shapes,” described David. “Tav was frantically trying to get an ambulance.”

He said they were able to flag down EMTs and he went to the hospital. David was left with a fractured hand. He said it will require surgery.

As the video of the incident spread on social media, David said fellow grads from the academy and other veterans have been sending messages of support.

Navy Lieutenant Chris David (Courtesy Chris David)

“I got out after about eight years as an LT,” said David. “All these academy grads are reaching out.”

People have called David a hero and the Superman of Portland. His reaction:

“They are playing me up as an Iron Man and a Superman. I’m a 53-year-old over-weight man on blood thinners and I have a lot of physical damage from the military. So, I’m not made of steel at all. They could have killed me last night, as my ex-wife and daughter have reminded me 45 times this morning.”

David said that he’s most disturbed by the lack of accountability by police. He said, in the military, there are consequences for your actions, and although the police are now acting like the military, he sees little consequence for their actions.

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