Portland officer indicted over riot clash with photographer
A grand jury has indicted a Portland police officer with one count of fourth-degree assault for allegedly striking a journalist in the head with a baton during a protest last year, according to Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt.
Portland Police Officer Corey Budworth was reportedly on duty working as a member of the city's Rapid Response Team on Aug. 18, 2020, when he allegedly struck activist photographer Teri Jacobs, who was covering a protest near the Multnomah Building, in the 500 block of Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard in Portland.
The indictment, announced Tuesday, June 15, represents the first time in Portland history that a grand jury has indicted a Portland police officer for excessive force.
"My office will continue to do everything we can to ensure justice is done without error or delay and that we make sure our work and practices are rooted in fairness and equity," Schmidt said. "It is important to emphasize that Officer Budworth is innocent until proven guilty and is entitled to the same degree of due process as any other person who is charged by my office."
The protest Jacobs was covering was later declared a riot by police after dumpsters were lit on fire and windows were smashed. According to the Oregon Justice Resource Center, Jacobs was wearing a press pass at the time of the attack and was following officers' orders to disperse when an officer — identified as "Officer 37" in her lawsuit — allegedly "swung his truncheon like a baseball bat," striking Jacobs.
Jacobs said the officer chased after her, striking her with his police baton on her neck, back and the back of her head. She said she was knocked to the ground and hit in the face.
The incident was captured on cellphone video and posted to social media.
Cop 37 shoves woman hitting her from behind in the head with baton, then hits her again in the face with baton while she is sitting on the ground pic.twitter.com/t4phwbWpsK— John #FreePalestine (@Johnnthelefty) August 19, 2020
Jacobs received a $50,000 settlement from the city over the incident.
Following Tuesday's indictment, Portland Mayor and Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler said, "I take this matter very seriously. As mayor, I hold Portland Police Bureau members to a very high standard of professional conduct.
"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."
Police Chief Chuck Lovell issued a statement saying that police are held to a high standard, which they must strive to live up to.
"PPB remains committed to providing public safety service to this city, where our personnel respond with professionalism and compassion," he said. "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."
The Portland Police Association, the union which represents rank-and-file officers, called the indictment "politically driven."
"This decorated public servant has been caught in the crossfire of agenda-driven city leaders and a politicized criminal justice system," Executive Director Daryl Turner told KOIN 6 News.
"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."
No arraignment date has been scheduled for the state's case against Budworth.
Fourth-degree assault is a misdemeanor in Oregon. Schmidt said "no legal justification existed for Officer Budworth's deployment of force, and ... the deployment of force was legally excessive under the circumstances."
KOIN 6 News, a news partner of Pamplin Media Group, contributed to this report.
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