The City Council has approved a $250,000 settlement with a former Portland Police Bureau background investigator who alleged that another background investigator stalked and sexually harassed her for three years.
Attorneys Jason Kafoury and Charese Rohny filed a lawsuit against the city on behalf of the city on June 1, 2020. The suit identifies the alleged offender as Robert Bruders, a former Portland police officer. He resigned two years after a Portland jury awarded a man he and two other officers beat $562,000 in 2014, the largest excessive force award in bureau history But Bruders was quickly rehired by the bureau as a background investigator.
"This case shows why the Portland Police Department needs serious reform," said attorney Jason Kafoury, in a press released issued after the council approved the settlement on Wednesday, June 23.
According to the release, Bruder and the two other officers beat a man named Jason Cox in 2011. While the two other officers pinned Cox down, "Bruders, 6-foot 7-inches, and 260 pounds, punched Cox seven times in the head. Before the historic jury verdict, a Portland Police Bureau Internal Affairs Investigator absolved the officers, writing 'the use of force against [Mr. Cox] is within the boundaries placed on officers by policy and the law,'" the release said.
The beating was captured on video.
According to the release, after Bruder was transferred to the personnel division, he sexually harassed a female investigator identified as "P.L." for over three years. To avoid contact with him, she would come into work after hours and on weekends, would enter the building through a different door, and ate lunch in a different area of the office. Although she filed complaints against him, four out of five were dismissed.
The ordinance approved by the council said an investigation of the lawsuit by Risk Management Services indicated there was a risk the city would be found liable.
"If our justice system in the City that Works worked as intended, Bruders would never have been rehired by the Portland Police after the video of him assaulting Mr. Cox came to light. The PPB's internal investigation and the Independent Police Review's decision show, at best, a profound disconnect from reality and, at worst, a coverup of police brutality. They allowed Bruders to continue working for the PPB, enabling him to harass P.L.," the release said.
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.