$28M wrongful death suit filed against Forest Grove
The estate of James Marshall, who died after an altercation with Forest Grove police in 2020, has filed a $28 million lawsuit against the city, according to an announcement by the law firm Clark Law & Associates.
The Portland-based firm says that the filing was made on the eve of the two-year anniversary of when Marshall was tasered and tackled as he stood in the doorway at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church.
Officers say Marshall was holding a large flag mounted on a pole and trying to kick open the door of the church, located at 1660 Elm Street in Forest Grove, on Oct. 8, 2020.
Officers used a stun gun on Marshall several times and tackled him to the ground. He fell into a coma and then died the next day. His cause of death in the autopsy report was listed as "excited delirium," a controversial designation that's often used to explain the deaths of people in police custody.
The officer who used the stun gun on Marshall was Steven Teets, who was found not criminally culpable in Marshall's death by the Washington County District Attorney's Office.
However, Teets has since been fired from the Forest Grove Police Department following a separate and unrelated incident, also in October 2020, in which Teets was found guilty of criminal mischief.
During that incident, an intoxicated Teets stormed up to the residence of Mirella Castaneda and her family, setting off car alarms and pounding on the front door and garage door.
The family called 911 and an arriving officer gave Teets a ride home instead of detaining him. Teets was arrested later that day.
Castaneda said her house displayed a Black Lives Matter flag above the garage door, which Teets hit with his hands.
Marshall's death also has highlighted some tension in the Forest Grove community over the officers' response.
Some felt that the Washington County mental health response team, which is trained to de-escalate incidents where a subject is having an episode away from violence, should have been called to the scene instead of the FGPD.
About 50 people gathered last year at Rogers Park in remembrance of Marshall and the incident that took his life in 2020.
A second annual remembrance event is scheduled at Rogers Park, from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 9.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.