Portland officer issues video apology for hitting photographer during 2020 racial justice protest

Jul 11, 2023, 6:21 PM | Updated: 6:50 pm

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A police officer in Portland, Oregon, issued a video apology Tuesday for hitting a photographer in the head with a baton during the 2020 protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Prosecutors dismissed a related fourth-degree misdemeanor assault charge against Portland Police Bureau Officer In the video statement, Budworth said he met with independent photographer Teri Jacobs through a restorative justice process.

The force he used against Jacobs on Aug. 18, 2020, could have been avoided, Budworth said.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Jacobs, for unnecessarily hitting you in the head with my baton,” he says in the video, adding that he has also apologized to her privately.

The officer also acknowledged the fractured relationship between police and some members of the community.

“I understand the harm that was caused was not limited to Ms. Jacobs and was felt by others in the community when there was a great distrust of law enforcement,” he said.

Budworth also said he’s committed to helping make positive changes throughout the police bureau.

At the time, Budworth was assigned to the Portland Police Bureau’s Rapid Response Team, which responded to protests. The charge filed against him in June 2021 prompted the entire team to resign.

A video shared on social media showed the officer, identified at the time only by a number on his helmet, running and hitting the back of a woman’s head with a baton in southeast Portland. Police had declared an unlawful assembly and ordered the crowd to disperse.

The video showed the officer knock Jacobs down and strike her again on the head while she was down.

Jacobs filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Portland stemming from the incident. The city paid her $50,000 to settle the case.

“I was grateful for the opportunity to tell him directly how his actions have affected me and continue to affect me through the restorative justice process,” Jacobs wrote in a statement. “Although it can’t change what happened to me that night, he admitted that his actions were wrong and pledged to do better himself, as well as facilitate changes in the PPB that would help prevent this type of police brutality from happening in the future.”

Budworth is expected to return to duty. He has been on administrative leave since June 2021, a Portland police spokesperson said. The police bureau will resume an internal affairs investigation now that the criminal case has been resolved.

Portland became an epicenter of Black Lives Matter demonstrations throughout the summer of 2020, and many protests devolved into clashes with officers.

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said in a statement Tuesday that 2020 was a deeply challenging time and that the community still has not fully healed from the trauma.

“This case represents a turning point,” he said. “This resolution, through a restorative justice process, is a brave example of what healing can and should look like. If a police officer and a protester can come together in dialogue, understanding, and healing, I believe our city can as well.”

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Portland officer issues video apology for hitting photographer during 2020 racial justice protest