A Federal Court jury is still deliberating over allegations of excessive force in the booking area at Multnomah County Detention Center, stemming from 2006. Judge Anna Brown sent the jury out at 12:30 today, at the conclusion of four-and-a-half days of trial proceedings which began last Tuesday, December 8. And the jury is still out, as I post this.

Michael Evans is suing Sheriff's Deputies Robert Griffith and Richard Hathaway, and Portland Police Bureau Officer Ryan Albertson for excessive force and violation of his fourth amendment rights. He is also suing for alleged assault and battery under Oregon state law, and for malicious prosecution under the fourteenth amendment after he was charged with assaulting a public safety officer following the altercation. You can watch video of the incident and learn more about it here and here.

Evans looked very different in court than he did in the jail video. Dressed in a suit and tie, and having grown out his hair, he also seemed to have lost some of his bulk from his appearance in a black muscle shirt in the jail booking area. He asked for a tissue before taking the stand, saying he "still gets very emotional" when he thinks about the incident. He is currently in prison serving time for two felony convictions, and was led to the stand in leg shackles while the jury was outside. The jury was instructed to weigh Evans' felony convictions in considering the value of his testimony.

Officer Albertson, too, had grown out his skinhead for court. He and Deputy Hathaway—who is an intimidating 6'7"—appeared to be nervously awaiting the verdict of the case on the steps of the Downtown Justice Center as this reporter left court this afternoon.

Evans' attorney, Benjamin Haile, encouraged the jurors to focus on the use of closed fist blows and the shining of a Taser into Evans' eyes. He said an incident report by Hathaway did not corroborate what was shown on the video—Hathaway wrote in his report that he had given Evans a warning before each punch to his head, while the video shows otherwise.

"And that's what's really disturbing about this case," said Haile. "They thought that they could blame Mr.Evans." "There are many places in that jail that are not in view of a camera," he continued. "Because of that imbalance of power, that's a way that the officers have abused the oath that they took."

Haile said most law enforcement officers are honest. "But when law enforcement officers start to show contempt for the truth like this, it cuts the law loose from its anchor," he said. "I'm asking you to support that 95 percent of law enforcement officers who do serve justly, and send a message to them that revenge beatings and dishonesty do not have to be a part of this. Otherwise good officers are going to leave."

"Law enforcement officers use force all the time," he said. "The question is reasonableness."

Haile said Evans was completely immobilized on the floor but that the sheriff's deputies continued to punch him once he was down. Officer Albertson had time to assess the situation, see that Evans was immobilized, and still deliver a knee strike to the back, said Haile.

County Attorney Stephen Madkour said sheriff's deputies' jobs are "dangerous, demanding, and under-appreciated," but that they do their job "with pride and distinction." "Now we're hearing that they're also liars," he said. "He comes into our jail in his black muscle shirt with his barbel nipple rings telling us how it's going to be," he continued.

Madkour focused on Evans' description in deposition of his behavior as being "Gandhi like," in the booking area. Madkour said Evans' refusal to have his prints taken on a property receipt was resistant behavior. Madkour also drew attention to testimony by an expert witness, Howard Webb, that said Evans should have been Tasered, not beaten, to reduce harm—"his own expert says he actively resisted," Madkour said.

Madkour quoted a letter from Evans to a friend in which he wrote, "I refused to comply with anything they asked." He said "there is no doubt that force was used. The question is whether it was objectively reasonable under the circumstances."

City Attorney David Landrum asked the jury if they had noticed the irony in Haile describing the law enforcement officers as liars, but not Evans. Throughout his closing remarks, he projected a letter from Evans onto the jurors' monitor screens, in which Evans said he was thinking of suing, and asked a friend of his, "who wants to be a millionaire?"

Haile described Madkour and Landrum's closing remarks as "distraction from the amount of force that was used." "You've heard that police officers just do the right thing, that this had to happen," he continued. "But they're saying that they should be able to do this whenever they want to."

"There was not much effort to explain the contradictions between the reports and what we see on the videos," Haile continued. "Officer Albertson said in his report that he was trying to control Mr.Evans' arm when he kneed him, but he doesn't even touch his arm on the video. There are serious inconsistencies. The force is very disturbing in this case."

We'll let you know as soon as the jurors reach a verdict.