An African American woman from Southeast Portland plans to sue the city after two police officers burned her stomach on her kitchen's electric stove and badly cut her right eye on a cupboard, then charged her with resisting arrest.
Kemisha Samuels, 25, was asleep upstairs in her Powellhurst-Gilbert apartment off SE Division, on June 17—she was exhausted after taking her boyfriend Rodney Spain's 11-year-old son Malik to see the Fantastic Four. At 11 pm, East Precinct Police Officers Walker Berg and Jacob Clark came into her bedroom and woke her by shining a flashlight in her eyes, she says.
They had come to the house to conduct a welfare check on Malik, after having received a call from his mother, Tawna Ware—Spain's former girlfriend—alleging Samuels had given him alcohol.
"I told them this was some story Tawna had made up," Samuels says.
The Mercury has been unable to contact Ware for comment.
Samuels followed the officers downstairs. Officer Berg waved his hand in front of Malik's eyes, a move known as the "Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus" test (HGN), and decided "Malik was slightly intoxicated." Berg took the child outside, where Malik told him that Samuels had forced him to drink alcohol, the officer wrote in his arrest report.
Berg told Officer Clark what Malik had said, and the pair went back in the house to arrest Samuels, who was lighting a cigarette on the kitchen stove.
"They never told me I was under arrest," says Samuels. "The next thing I knew, he was forcing my belly down onto the oven and I could hear it frying, the flesh frying. And I screamed at them that my stomach was burning, but the officer just forced me down even harder."
Both officers then grabbed Samuels, and hit her head on the open kitchen cupboard as they were putting cuffs on. The officers later tried to justify their use of force in writing.
"As I stated earlier, Samuels was extremely thin and limber," wrote Officer Berg, in his arrest report. "Being this limber made her extremely difficult to control while she was resisting arrest, despite her small size." (Samuels weighs approximately 120 pounds.)
The officers then took Samuels outside while they waited for an ambulance to take her to Adventist Medical Center.
"They told me to shut the fuck up, and they were laughing at me," she says. "When I told them 'this isn't funny,' they laughed again, and when I asked for their business cards they told me, 'We ain't giving you shit.'"
Samuels categorically denies giving her boyfriend's son alcohol, and denies being intoxicated that night, as alleged by both cops in their arrest reports. Officer Berg described Samuels' teeth as "dirty/decaying" in his report, but Samuels, a former model for Meier & Frank clothes, has teeth that appear to be in excellent condition.
Apart from driving without a license, Samuels says she has never been convicted of any crime. She keeps a Bible on her side table and attends the New Song Community Church on Martin Luther King Boulevard every other week. She works nights as a security guard. The officers wrote in their reports that the house was full of beer cans, which Samuels says is not true.
Samuels was never charged by the district attorney's office with furnishing alcohol to a minor, due to insufficient evidence. She now faces trial only for resisting arrest on October 12—her court date has been delayed twice.
After complaining about her arrest, Samuels got a visit from Child Protective Services (CPS), who tested her for drugs. She says she passed all the tests—CPS does not disclose details on individual cases—and doesn't even smoke marijuana.
"I think they were frustrated because they came out here and were expecting a belligerent person and they found me sober and asleep," says Samuels. "They tried to make me sound like this crazy psychopath or a straight-up bum or something, in the reports."
"She thinks what she thinks, and the officers document what they document," says Portland Police Bureau spokesman Brian Schmautz. "This conflict occurs.
"An 11-year-old child being intoxicated is pretty much an indefensible position," he adds.
"Malik was sober," says Samuels. "Nobody was drunk. I think they made that up—he was tired, and about ready to go to bed. If he was drunk, why didn't they take him to the hospital? They only did the finger test, and never gave any of us a breath test or anything. I never gave that boy alcohol. They're lying, and it's hard to be painted as this horrible person."
Officers Berg and Clark did not return calls by press time.