A 58-year-old woman is suing the City of Portland and a Portland Police Officer for excessive force, alleging he punched her in the face and broke her arm following a traffic stop. The suit, filed on Monday, March 26, requests a jury trial and $97,500 in lost earnings, $2,500 in medical expenses, and "noneconomic damage in an amount to be proven at trial."
The traffic stop occurred on the afternoon of May 29, 2005. Barbara Weich was initially cited by Officer Gregory Adrian on SE Grand near Madison—she pulled over into the Burger King parking lot, at the east side of the Hawthorne Bridge—for failure to wear a seatbelt, according to her attorney.
"She talked to the officer about the ticket, and explained to him it would be a tremendous imposition since she was divorced and having trouble meeting expenses for her business," says Weich's attorney, Gregory Kafoury. "He gave her the ticket anyway."
Kafoury alleges the cop also told Weich: "I found a job where I can make money, and I think you should, too." As Weich was driving out of the parking lot, she says the cop sarcastically said, "Thank you for the smile." "You're an asshole," Weich responded. That's when the incident got even uglier, according to Kafoury.
Kafoury alleges Officer Adrian responded to Weich, asking "What did you say?"
Weich repeated herself, calling the cop an asshole again, before driving away.
Officer Adrian then followed Weich across the Hawthorne Bridge and stopped her at SW 1st Ave and Madison, Kafoury alleges.
There, Officer Adrian approached the open window of Weich's pickup truck, "punched her in the face while she was inside, grabbed her arm, twisted it, forced it down against the open window repeatedly, and broke her arm," the attorney says.
Officer Adrian's arrest report tells the story differently. It says Adrian cited Weich for failing to wear a seatbelt, but that she also did not have proof of insurance. He chose not to cite her for that—or tow her car—"which was my error." When Weich called him an asshole, Adrian writes that he then "chose to stop her and readdress her lack of insurance."
According to Adrian's detailed report, he then stopped Weich again with lights and sirens on the Madison viaduct above MLK, and as he walked up to her window, "she looked at me in the eye, shook her head, and sped off, as I yelled, 'Stop!'"
Adrian writes that Weich crossed the Hawthorne Bridge and stopped at a red light at SW 1st and Madison. "There were pedestrians in the area and I was concerned that she would attempt to flee to avoid being arrested," he writes. Adrian ran up to Weich's pickup and writes, "Weich was clenching the steering wheel with both hands, she was looking straight ahead, not at me, and her engine was running and ready to take off again."
"I knew that I would need to use force to get Weich to comply with me," he writes. "I chose to use an arm-bar on her left arm as soon as I could. As my arms entered into the cab of the truck, I made a deliberate decision to distract Weich with a light jab to the left side of her jaw."
Adrian writes that he "did not have time to use a similar use of force, that of shoving the tip of my thumb into her temple, as taught to me in training."
"I used my right closed fist and deployed it from about 8-10 inches in front of my chest," he continues. "As I jabbed, I used my left hand to grab Weich's left wrist."
Weich was taken into custody and charged with attempting to elude police--a class C felony. But the charges were dismissed on June 26, 2005. The charge of failure to wear a seatbelt was also dismissed on July 20, 2005.
Weich declined medical attention after her arrest, according to Adrian's arrest report. "Weich did not appear to be injured," the report says, adding, "I could see that the left side of her jaw appeared to be red and somewhat swollen... She also said her left arm hurt near the elbow."
It is unclear whether Weich filed a complaint with the Independent Police Review following the incident—the IPR has yet to return a call from the Mercury, and Kafoury would not answer this question. In addition to the excessive force claims, Weich's suit also alleges malicious prosecution, and battery.
Ms. Weich ran a coffee shop in Portland at the time, showing her own paintings in the shop's gallery, but has since moved to a small town in Idaho and is unavailable for comment, Kafoury says.
"She is tremendously rattled, shaken, battered and hurt," Kafoury adds. "She fears the police."
It is against the Police Bureau's policy to comment on ongoing lawsuits.