The Oregonian reported today that a jury awarded three men $175,000 in a civil suit against the city on charges of assault, battery and false arrest. The men were returning to their car in a parking garage when police followed them, thinking they had been involved in an altercation on the street. When one of the men handed over his concealed weapons permit, the officers pulled their guns.
"Someone's having a Glock pointed at their head and being told, 'If you move or do anything else, I'll shoot you," says Jason Kafoury, one of the lawyers on the case. No charges were filed against the men.
It's troubling that one of the officers in this case, Leo Besner, has been in hot water before. In 2007, the city paid a $500,000 settlement to the family of Raymond Gwerder after Officer Besner, then a sniper, shot Gwerder in the back while Gwerder was on the phone with a police hostage negotiator. In light of the recent series of legal losses for the police, Kafoury believes oversight needs to come from outside the police bureau.
“I think that the police need an independent review board to oversee accusations of misconduct,” Kafoury says, adding that the board could be made up of locally elected citizens.