PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A Portland police officer was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly using a baton on a freelance photojournalist during a riot on August 18, 2020.
Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said Tuesday PPB Officer Corey Budworth was indicted for one count of 4th-degree assault for the incident that happened that night in Southeast Portland. The charge is a misdemeanor.
The indictment spurred quick reaction from city leaders and union officials.
Budworth is accused of unlawfully causing physical injury to Terri Jacobs on August 18, 2020. Under Oregon law, “physical injury” is defined as impairment of physical condition or substantial pain. At the time of the incident, Budworth was assigned to the PPB Rapid Response Team.
The identity of the complainant/victim was unknown to both law enforcement and the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office until Jacobs filed a civil lawsuit on September 23, 2020 in U.S. District Court, according to the DA’s office.
Earlier this year, Jacobs received a $50,000 settlement from a civil suit against the city of Portland. Her attorney, Juan Chavez, said a Twitter video shows Budworth pushing her to the ground and hitting her with a baton.
Chavez said the alleged assault happened as Jacobs tried to help a friend who was being held down by officers.
“She had a press badge around her neck and she wanted to document what was happening,” he said.
A riot was declared that night as fires were set, windows were smashed and burning debris was thrown into the building.
Chavez said Jacobs was assaulted as she tried to help that friend.
“As she was getting away Officer Budworth came up from behind her, hit her behind the head and knocked her to the ground. And as she turned around and looked up he hit her in the face and then walked away,” he told KOIN 6 News.
Chavez said Jacobs is thankful to the DA for the announcement of charges.
“I think it shows both the power of independent media to capture these, and bring them to light,” he told KOIN 6 News. “I hope it highlights for a lot of folks this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Reaction to the indictment
Following the announcement of Budworth’s indictment, PPB Chief Chuck Lovell issued a statement:
“Law enforcement is held to a higher standard and must constantly strive to live up to that standard. PPB has processes of accountability in place that take time to complete. A Multnomah County grand jury has indicted a PPB officer on one count of Assault 4 from an incident in Aug 2020. As Chief, I have a role to play in the Police Bureau’s internal process associated with this case and therefore, I cannot provide additional details.
“PPB remains committed to providing public safety service to this city, where our personnel respond with professionalism and compassion. PPB has worked hard over the years to revamp our policies and training and we continue to look for additional ways to maintain our community’s trust. I ask for the community’s patience as we follow the guidelines of the established internal accountability process.”
Meantime, the Portland Police Association called the charging decision “politically driven.”
“This decorated public servant has been caught in the crossfire of agenda-driven city leaders and a politicized criminal justice system,” said Executive Director Daryl Turner of Budworth’s situation.
“Officer Budworth did exactly as he was trained,” Turner later said. “Don’t just take our word for it; PPB’s own experts reviewed his actions and found them reasonable, permissible, and in accordance with his training.”
Mayor Ted Wheeler also issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon. In part, he said:
“Our city experienced over 170 days of protests following the murder of George Floyd, and I also want to acknowledge that our officers faced great risk and protected our city in extreme conditions.
“I appreciate PPB’s investigative efforts regarding this case, and I thank Police Chief Chuck Lovell for his work to improve policies and training to ensure PPB provides professional and compassionate police services to our community.
“Under the law, all who face charges in our criminal justice system are innocent until proven guilty. Out of respect for due process and the fact that I am the final decisionmaker in all PPB disciplinary matters, I have no further statement to make at this time.”
No arraignment date is has been scheduled for the state’s case against Budworth.
The DA’s office added it was continuing to investigate other cases of potential criminal conduct involving police use-of-force that occurred in 2020 during the protests, unlawful assemblies and riots last year.