THERE ARE SURPRISING new twists in the case of a Pioneer Courthouse Square private security guard who gained infamy last winter after hitting a teenager with a skateboard. An inquiry by the Mercury reveals that at the time of the altercation, the private guard was working illegally. Also, Portland police officers initially decided not to file a police report about the incident at the request of the private security firm, Pacific Patrol Services.
On November 25, 2009, three private security guards working in the square contacted Portland Police Bureau officers, saying they had been victims of assault during a fight with five or six skateboarders. After talking with the guards, the police officers came to another conclusion: The guards were the aggressors.
A home video released online in mid-December backed up this account of events, showing one of the private guards clearly swinging a skateboard at a skater, knocking him over. Only after the video made headlines on the Portland Mercury website and other news outlets did the police officers who were called to the scene write up a report of the altercation.
In his report, written on December 24, 2009, Officer David Abrahamson noted that he told the guards' supervisor that he was not required to write a police report about the incident and that if he did, it "would most likely not be in a favorable light" for the security contractor. The supervisor, Michelle Timfichuk, said she would appreciate it if the officers did not write a report.
What the police officers didn't realize even after writing their reports is that the skateboard-swinging guard was unlicensed and working illegally at the time.
According to state records, the security guard in question, Nicholas Jones, first applied for certification January 29, 2010. Working without certification is illegal, and can result in up to $1,500 in fines for the guard or the company. Jones' certification status was not investigated by the police or the district attorney, and Jones did not respond to the Mercury's request for comment. Jones wrote on his Facebook page July 15 that he was still working for Pacific Patrol Services, though Pacific Patrol Services owner Alan Pendergrass also did not return multiple requests for comment.
After the skateboarders left the square on the night of November 25, Jones and two other guards, Dimitriy Kolombet and Jason Allen‚ recounted their version of events to police. According to the police report, Kolombet said the guards were trying to kick the skateboarders out of the square when one of the teens punched him in the ear. Jones was snapping photos of the skaters and told police that one of the teens knocked the camera out of his hands with a skateboard. He retaliated by punching the skater in the side of the head and later, as shown in the video but unmentioned in the police report, took the skateboard and swung it at the skater's head.
At the scene, Officer Israel Holsti took notes, writing that "security started the fight... it seems that the security guards overreacted and might be at fault of being the aggressor."
Tony Schwartz, lawyer for the skater, has not released the name of the 19-year-old hit with the skateboard, as the case has been in a stalled grand jury process for months.
The Portland Police Bureau will not comment on the case, since it's still an ongoing investigation. But police spokeswoman Kelli Sheffer says the officers were not required to write an investigative report at the scene, becuase the only people who had come forward as victims were the guards.
As the later reports revealed, the guards were anything but.