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NICK BUDNICK - New Chief Mike Marshman at a Monday press conference with Mayor Charlie HalesNew Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman's recollection of an alleged assault of his former stepson differs from what a newly obtained document shows police were told, including that the boy was 16 at the time of the incident.


The document for the first time provides written evidence of the 2006 investigation and provides new details of the allegations made. It also shows why Multnomah County prosecutors did not file criminal charges based on the investigation, apparently despite photos purportedly showing the stepson's neck bruises.

The revelations are the latest in an early rough patch for the new chief, who was named to the post Monday, June 27, by Mayor Charlie Hales. Marshman, who has received glowing reviews from community members and current and former coworkers, has vowed to pursue a new era of fairness, accountability and community policing.

In an interview Thursday, June 30, with the Tribune, Marshman denied choking anyone and said he believed his former stepson was 19 or 20 at the time of the altercation. Marshman said that he grabbed his then-stepson by the shirt and pressed him against the wall, but did not recall the specific argument that led to the altercation and subsequent criminal investigation of him in 2006.

He and the former stepson's mother, then a dispatcher, divorced in 2005, and the bureau received an anonymous complaint eight months later.

Marshman has promised to release a crime report of the incident as early as Tuesday, July 5, saying that while he regrets the incident, it was considered unproven in an internal investigation. He plans to release his entire personnel file as well.

"Being a chief, you get an extra level of scrutiny, so it makes sense to me," he said of the disclosure plan.

'I wish it never happened'

The document, obtained Friday under Oregon's public-records law, sheds new light on the criminal investigation that preceded an internal one. It shows that the incident was alleged to have occurred when the stepson was 16, in 2002. Marshman's recollection of the incident also differs in other ways from what the boy and his mother told Detective Karen Mack.

Marshman's then-stepson told Mack that an argument broke out because Marshman instructed the stepson to turn off a light, and the boy, angry that Marshman didn't turn it off himself, called him an expletive.

The two were alone. There were no witnesses.

Marshman allegedly asked the boy to repeat what he had said, then "grabbed the victim by his neck, choking him and pushing him up against the wall and then dropped him," according to the document.

The stepson, who was 20 at the time of the investigation, told the detective that he couldn't speak after the alleged choking and had a loss of breath temporarily.

His mother told police she saw bruising on the boy's neck the next day and "at first she thought the bruises were hickies."

According to the document, photos were taken of bruising on the stepson's neck, purportedly from the alleged choking by Marshman.

Marshman told the Tribune his marriage was "rocky" at the time and acknowledged that his former stepson did not throw a punch or try to hit him before the cop became physical. However, he feared his "volatile" stepson was going to swing at him during the argument, causing the cop to grab him, according to Marshman.

"I tell him to calm down. He calms down." he recalled in the June 30 interview. "It was an unfortunate incident. I wish it never happened."

'Not a crime in 2002'

The document is a form prepared by the Multnomah County district attorney's office to explain why prosecutors declined to press charges on the case.

It cites a combination of insufficient evidence and that too much time had passed since the incident. It also says one applicable statute had been signed into law only after the alleged choking occurred.

"The level of injury is not sufficient for the felony charge of criminal mistreatment in the first degree. Any misdemeanor charges, such as harassment or attempted criminal mistreatment in the first degree, are beyond the statute of limitations," according to the document. "The victim's description of what occurred fits the current class A misdemeanor crime of strangulation (but) this was not a crime in 2002. It was passed by the Legislature in 2003."

Marshman, for his part, says he never gave his side of the story to investigators on the case. He said he was caught by surprise when investigators approached him about the allegation, and he therefore declined to cooperate at that time. He said investigators made no further effort to interview him.

Rumors circulated

News of the investigation comes at a poor time for Marshman and the bureau, both grappling with short staffing and poor morale among the troops. Officers are still reeling from the removal of former Chief Larry O'Dea and his four assistant chiefs, probed for apparently not properly ordering an investigation of O'Dea's accidental shooting of a friend while camping. A criminal investigation of the shooting is ongoing.

The investigation of Marshman was not well-known, though rumors circulated in early 2007. It's unclear what he shared of the incident with Hales before being named chief.

Former coworkers of Marshman praise his brains, ethics and commitment to the greater good. Retired Capt. C.W. Jensen argues that despite the 14-year-old incident, Portland has the best chief it could at a time when the bureau is struggling with federal Department of Justice requirements in which Marshman is an expert.

"Mike really has a chance to make great changes to the bureau and the community," Jensen says.

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