IT'S THE SMALL ironies that count. In federal court this year—when Dan Halsted of the Hollywood Theatre was persuading jurors that Portland owed him big bucks for a shockingly savage 2008 police Tasering and beatdown—an attorney for the city made an amusingly wild counter-claim.
Because Halsted, it was argued, is such an avowed fan of kung fu flicks, he must have used whatever powers and skills he'd soaked up from the screen to provoke the cops. Jurors rightly thought that was bullshit and unanimously awarded Halsted more than $200,000.
Now here's where the irony comes in. That jury award, which rose to $258,000 when lawyer fees were tallied, has actually helped Halsted grow the same treasure trove of film prints that the city, in its wisdom, was equating with a vicious weapon.
And because Halsted is hosting his annual Grindhouse Trailer Spectacular this Tuesday, July 31, now we'll all be able to partake in the fruits of the city's restitution.
"There were a lot of trailers I've always wanted," Halsted says. "I threw some collectors enough money that they couldn't say no."
Halsted is clearly making the best of a terrible episode. Besides adding to his film collection, he's bought a house and a car, and he's decided to get engaged. But Halsted also knows he's been lucky. His brutality payout is among the most expensive in city history—although, he notes, "six of the eight people above me were people who were killed."
Not that Halsted's story isn't horrifying. He was quietly walking home from a bar back in 2008, not drunk, when he was jumped. Not knowing who tackled him or why, he ran off—only to find himself writhing in agony, having been Tasered five times.
Only when he was handcuffed did he learn that his tackler was a Portland cop on the prowl for a tagger. Halsted, who also had his face ground into the pavement, was never charged with a crime.
"He still thinks I was the one painting graffiti," Halsted says.
Halsted has also decided to keep talking. Report after report has urged the police, in the interest of preventing death and injury, to limit how many times cops can Taser someone—so no one's zapped as often as Halsted was. Halsted said he wrote the city council a letter wondering what it would take to muscle that sensible change into place.
"I don't know if they care," he says. "The next time someone has a case like mine I hope that they don't just include the city and the officers but that they also include the mayor and the city council."