A 26-year-old woman is alleging she was subjected to excessive force by Portland Police after they Tasered her three times and beat her on her own front doorstep two weeks ago.
One of the officers involved in the alleged incident was former sheriff's deputy Brett Burton, who transferred to the Portland Police Bureau last year, following his involvement in the death in custody of James Chasse, jr. in 2006.
The alleged victim, Marlyn Rivas, was returning from a friend's house party in the Pearl District late on Saturday January 17, where she admits to having drunk heavily. After being dropped at her house in NW Portland by friends, Rivas struggled to unlock the front door to her building, and evidently, another concerned resident of the building called the police. Rivas, who says she does not remember all of the incident, says she remembers being grabbed from behind and yelling, "leave me alone, I live here, this is my house!"
Rivas, whose driving license has not yet been updated since she moved to NW Portland from NE, thinks the officers may have been confused about her residence because of the discrepancy.
"But they wouldn't take my word for it. They kept saying you don't live here, you're trying to break in, and then they basically beat me up," says Rivas, who weighs just 120lbs and was wearing only a dress and high-heels at the time. "It's not like I was capable of concealing a weapon," she says.
RIVAS: Was charged with resisting arrest...
Rivas ended up with a split lip and two black eyes, not to mention three Taser scars on her back and side, respectively, and a clear and distinct baton bruise on the back of her thighs. She was taken to jail, where jail nurses refused to admit her, and eventually to Portland Adventist Hospital. Rivas says that she was yelled at by one of the officers there while her lip was being stitched up by a nurse, "you need to confess right now, did you try to punch that officer?"
"But I told him I believed what they had done to me was wrong and that I wanted a lawyer," Rivas says.
"I remember saying after she Tasered me the first time, please don't hurt me, please stop," says Rivas, who was Tasered three times by Officer Tequila Thurman—a new hire at the police bureau, judging from her recent number issued by the Department for Public Safety Security and Training.
"She's saying I called her names," says Rivas. "But I'm not a violent person at all. I'm sure if somebody tries to grab me on my own doorstep, then of course I'm going to say leave me alone, but they just assumed I didn't live there."
"I don't want people like this out there harming innocent people," she adds. "It was excessive force, and their behavior was abusive. When somebody grabs you on your doorstep outside your home, how would you react?"
RIVAS: Shocking injuries...
Rivas was charged with resisting arrest, attempted assault of a public safety officer, disorderly conduct in the second degree, and harassment. "The person was charged, and if the individual wants to file a complaint, she can," says Police Spokeswoman Detective Mary Wheat, who referred the Mercury to Rivas' arrest reports for more details on the incident.
Officer Thurman claims in her arrest report that Rivas called her a "crazy bitch" during the encounter, grabbed her hair, and hit her in the lip with her forearm. Thurman claims the first Taser hit "did not seem to effect [Rivas] at all." Thurman says she Tasered Rivas a second time when she "lunged toward" Thurman a second time. Thurman says she Tasered Rivas a third time when she "tried to stand, still shouting profanities." Then she heard the sirens of the backup cars.
Officers Burton and Hettman handcuffed Rivas and put her in the patrol car, according to their reports, which required Burton to use his knee to subdue Rivas on the pavement, before he could get the cuffs on. Burton wrote in his arrest report that other residents of the apartment complex told him they were scared someone had been trying to break in.