$40K awarded to woman injured by Portland police at protests

Oct 4, 2022, 5:27 AM | Updated: 5:57 pm

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A jury on Tuesday awarded $40,000 to a woman who sued the city of Portland, Oregon, over police use of force at a 2020 protest against police brutality, agreeing police used unreasonable force against her and committed battery.

Erin Wenzel sued the city for assault, battery and negligence, claiming that on Aug. 14, 2020, an officer “ran at her and violently slammed into her with a nightstick” while she was leaving the area as police had instructed, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. After she stood up, she said another officer pushed her.

Jurors heard from medical experts during the trial who confirmed her arm was broken and that she has PTSD, at least in part, because of the incident.

This was the first civil trial from the Portland 2020 racial justice protests to reach a jury. After the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in late May 2020, protesters in Portland clashed nightly with Portland police and federal law enforcement officers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service.

More than 50 similar lawsuits are pending against the city, and nearly two dozen Portland city attorneys and risk managers, as well as attorneys for plaintiffs involved in the pending lawsuits, at times tuned in to watch the proceedings.

The jury awarded Wenzel $14,106 for the battery claim and $26,166 in non-economic damages. They decided that the police did not assault her and awarded no damages for that claim. Wenzel had asked for $450,000.

Battery is when someone intentionally hurts another person. Assault is when someone makes another person afraid they are going to be battered.

Wenzel testified she didn’t think the police would use force against her since she was complying with their orders, likely negating the assault claim.

The jury also said the city was not negligent in how it trains police officers.

The officers who pushed Wenzel were never identified and there is no known video of the incident. During the six-day trial, the jury heard from Wenzel who said she was at the protest as a medic and that her helmet was marked with a red cross. She also testified that she never threw anything at the police or participated in vandalism.

After police rushed the crowd of protesters and pushed the group to disperse, Wenzel said she moved in the direction they had ordered.

Several officers testified they believed that protesters who moved slowly during dispersals were often providing cover for other protesters to escape and they were therefore allowed to use force.

Detective Erik Kammerer testified moving slowly or dispersing on its own does not warrant use of force but also said officers pushed intentionally slow walking people out of the way.

The U.S. Department of Justice specifically cited that logic as violating bureau directives.

Before the trial started, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Katharine von Ter Stegge limited admissible evidence to the approximately two-hour window Wenzel was at the protest. That meant video of Portland police pushing dispersing protesters on other nights couldn’t be used to show the city was likely aware of and took no action to stop officers from using the tactic.

The jury agreed that it is not acceptable for officers to push protesters for dispersing too slowly and that the city should be required to cover resulting medical expenses. The jury appeared less willing to award sizable monetary amounts for severe emotional distress and pain, a decision which could factor into settlement negotiations for the dozens of lawsuits pending against the city.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

murders...
Associated Press

Appeals court upholds most Eyman campaign finance violations

A Washington state Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld most of the campaign finance violations that longtime anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman was found liable for last year.
10 hours ago
A Washington State Department of Agriculture worker displays an Asian giant hornet taken from a nes...
Associated Press

No northern giant hornets found in 2022 in Washington state

Citizen trapping of northern giant hornets in northwest Washington ended Nov. 30 without any confirmed sightings of the hornets this year, state officials said Tuesday.
10 hours ago
FILE - Peruvian President Pedro Castillo gives a press conference at the presidential palace in Lim...
Associated Press

Peru’s president dissolves Congress ahead of 3rd removal try

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peruvian President Pedro Castillo dissolved the nation’s Congress on Wednesday and called for new legislative elections, beating lawmakers to the punch as they prepared to debate a third attempt to remove him from office. Castillo also installed a new emergency government, and called in a televised address for the next round […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Fired state TV chief’s World Bank job shocks many in Poland

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The former head of Poland’s state broadcaster said Wednesday that he now has a job at the World Bank, spurring disbelief in the European Union country where he is known for turning the news channel into a propaganda tool for the right-wing government. Kurski, who has no finance experience, said on […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Clean energy grant fraud results in 7 year prison sentence

BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts man who participated in a scheme to defraud the U.S. government out of about $50 million in tax-free grants intended to fund clean energy projects has been sentenced to seven years in prison, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. Christopher N. Condron, 50, was also sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in […]
1 day ago
Ivan Safronov, an adviser to the director of Russia's state space corporation is seen on a TV scree...
Associated Press

Russian court upholds ex-reporter’s 22-year treason sentence

MOSCOW (AP) — A court in the Russian capital on Wednesday rejected an appeal from a former journalist who was convicted of treason and given a 22-year prison sentence following what was widely seen as a politically motivated trial. The appeals court upheld the September sentence handed to Ivan Safronov, who worked as a military […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
$40K awarded to woman injured by Portland police at protests