Okay, so the actual headline at The Oregonian is Federal jury rules against Portland police in Tasing of man suspected of graffiti tagging. But read on, because the cops actually tried to use the “he watched Bruce Lee movies” defense.
A federal jury today ruled unanimously that a Portland police officer used excessive force when he fired a Taser five times into the back of a man he suspected of spray-painting graffiti on a commercial building.
The jury deliberated about three hours and ruled that Portland Police Officer Benjamin J. Davidson violated Daniel Halsted’s constitutional rights, and awarded him $125,000 in punitive damages, $75,000 in non-economic damages and $6,372.70 for medical costs.
The officer’s and Halsted’s accounts differed.
Halsted testified that he was walking home after a night out bowling with friends and a stop for dinner and drinks at the Rose and Thistle pub. After he bid goodbye to his friends – a couple who lived on Northeast 24th Avenue – Halsted said he continued to walk home, now alone. As he turned onto Northeast Wasco Street, Halsted said he noticed a flashlight shining on him and heard a man behind him yell “Get him!”
He said he looked back, saw a dark figure and began to run east on Wasco because he was frightened. He heard “Tase him,” and then felt a shock to his back and fell. While yelling out for citizens and neighbors to call police, he was Tased four more times before other officers helped Davidson get Halsted into custody in a maximum hobble restraint. He was then taken to a local hospital.
“It’s the most traumatic experience I’ve had,” Halsted testified. “It’s changed my view of the police. It’s extremely non-sensical. I can’t believe it happened. It’s disgusting.” Halsted, then technical director at Portland’s Hollywood Theatre, is now the theatre’s head film programmer.
Davidson testified he was responding to a report that four men were seen on the roof of a building at 2506 N.E. Multnomah St., tagging it with spray paint. Dispatch alerted Davidson that a suspect was seen heading east on Wasco. When Davidson approached Northeast 26th Avenue and Wasco, he said he looked west and saw three men running toward him on Wasco. Davidson said he got out of his patrol car and shined his flashlight on the men, yelling “Police, stop!” He said two of the three men ran in between houses while the third, Halsted, darted onto the south sidewalk of Wasco Street, heading toward Davidson and skirted past him. When he refused to stop, Davidson said he fired his Taser.
Rice tried to discredit Halsted, asking him about his collection of Kung Fu movies, and suggested during his closing argument that Halsted kept resisting because he was likely intoxicated. Halsted’s attorney countered that there was no evidence of Halsted’s intoxication, and asked Halsted if he’d ever been trained in martial arts, to which the answer was no.
So be smart, kids. Encrypt your kung fu movie collection.Related: Popular: