A 40-year-old man beaten by sheriff's deputies and Portland Police Bureau officers at the Multnomah County Detention Center last September may have been the recipient of some rough "justice," having just been arrested for assaulting his girlfriend with a riding crop.
Video of the incident, obtained by the Mercury and posted on blogtown.portlandmercury.com last week, shows Michael Evans being beaten in the booking area of the jail on SW 3rd—apparently without provocation—by Sheriff's Deputy Richard Hathaway. In the video, six sheriff's deputies and Portland Police Bureau officers get involved after Hathaway kicks, then punches Evans four times, bringing him to the ground.
Last Tuesday, July 10, Evans' attorney, Leah Greenwald, sent a letter to the city's office of risk management, describing the "unprovoked brutality revealed" in the video as "deeply disturbing." The letter also made reference to the "self-serving dishonesty of the officers who reported the incident," describing it as "shocking," and asked for a $360,000 early settlement.
In a report on the September 11 incident, Hathaway wrote that he controlled Evans using two "focused blows" with his right closed fist, after Evans "struck me in the nose during booking." Evans' alleged striking of the deputy is not apparent from the video. Greenwald's letter to the city contends that Evans did not receive medical attention for 18 hours after the assault, that he used his own shirt as a towel to soak up blood and apply pressure to his broken bleeding nose, and that he reset his own nose.
Greenwald wrote that Evans may have engaged in some "passive non-compliance" in the jail by refusing to offer his hand up for fingerprints—and may also have cursed the officers—but that such behavior does not justify his beating.
"The uncooperative verbal exchange between the officers and Mr. Evans did not warrant or authorize the brutality they inflicted upon him," Greenwald wrote. "Evidence of a verbal dispute, however, demonstrates motive for the officers' unlawful behavior."
It is also possible Evans was treated roughly because of the nature of his crime—he was eventually convicted for assaulting his then-girlfriend.
Evans was arrested by police at a house in Southeast the evening of September 10, after police were called by neighbors who reported "a female crying, and saying, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, don't hit me again,'" according to court records. The woman, Kelley Gallaway, "told the officer that she was hit by the defendant in the hands and legs with a riding crop," the records continue. Gallaway had multiple bruises, including red marks fresh from the incident. She also told the officer that Evans had threatened her with a gun two weeks earlier.
Following Evans' arrest, Gallaway filed a restraining order against Evans alleging that he threatened to kill her if she "caused him any trouble."
Evans' defense attorney, Gareld Gedrose, argued at his trial that Evans and Gallaway had been involved in a consensual BDSM relationship in which Evans played the "dominant" or "dom" and Gallaway played the role of the "subservient" or "sub." "This relationship also involved Gallaway being 'punished' by being struck with a riding crop," Gedrose argued.
Evans was found guilty of assault, menacing, and unlawful use of a weapon.
Evans is still awaiting trial on 11 counts of first-degree sexual abuse and four counts of first-degree sodomy relating to alleged sexual abuse of two minors in 2005—charges filed in October 2006, after he was beaten at the jail while being taken into custody. Evans' criminal history also includes three physical harassment convictions, and convictions for disorderly conduct and contempt of court, going back to 1997.
"I'm not sure if the sheriff's deputies knew of the circumstances of Evans' arrest," says Theresa "Darklady" Reed, a BDSM expert who testified for the defense at Evans' trial. "But if so, that may have impacted their behavior. Peace officers are people too, and most people feel very protective of women."
However, "generally speaking, your rights don't go away just based on your behavior," says Alejandro Queral of the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center. "The government has to prove that you've committed some wrongdoing in order to punish you."