DAN HALSTED was walking home along NE 26th from a bar on NE Broadway after having a few drinks on Tuesday night, June 17. Suddenly he felt a bright light shining in his eyes, and heard someone shouting: "Get 'em!"
Halsted ran, before the blast of a Taser brought him to his knees. Three people stomped on his back and ground his face into the sidewalk. It was only when they handcuffed him that Halsted realized the assailants were police officers.
At least, that's how Halsted's story appeared—along with before and after photographs of his badly beaten face—on the message board of local website Urbanhonking.com on June 23; Halsted's friend, local filmmaker J. John Afryl, posted the account.
Since then, Afryl has yanked the story from the Urbanhonking website, and Halsted—who has curated Portland's Grindhouse Film Festival since 2004—has engaged the services of attorney Dan Engler of the Rose City Defense Consortium. Following Engler's advice, Halsted is declining to comment on the arrest.
Nevertheless, Afryl's account of what happened to his friend was disturbing.
"When the firemen showed up he had to make a big plea to get to the hospital to deal with his facial wounds," Afryl wrote. "The cops tried to convince the fire dudes he was fine. He was pretty effed up, and was brought to the station where he was interrogated.
"The cop said he knew my friend was tagging in the neighborhood," Afryl continued. "And said the security guy ID'd him. Dan told him that was strange 'cause he was at the bar with his friends. The cop looks at Dan's wallet and opens it up, and finds... the receipt from the bar from only minutes before he was arrested."
Halsted was charged with resisting arrest and criminal mischief in regard to the alleged tagging. But Deputy District Attorney Scott Harris declined to prosecute Halsted on either charge.
Harris says he felt he could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt either that Halsted was part of the group of people who had been spray painting on the side of the Custom Knit Warehouse at NE 25th and Multnomah, or that Halsted knew he was being arrested by the police, "given his state of intoxication according to the police reports."
Halsted was treated at Emanuel Hospital for his injuries before being taken into custody and released early the following morning.
"They're out looking for a suspect related to tagging," says Engler, Halsted's attorney. "But they obviously got the wrong guy, and it didn't seem to me like the officers made significant efforts to find out who Mr. Halsted was, or even have any significant interaction with him before force was involved." Engler says Halsted is considering all legal options, which could include filing a tort claim against the police department.
Halsted was Tasered by Northeast Precinct Officer Ben Davidson, who wrote in his police report that he was responding to a radio call from NE Precinct Officer Quency Ho, relaying information that suspects in the tagging incident had been seen running northbound on NE 25th. As Davidson was responding, he saw three subjects running toward him down the middle of the street, and according to the report, yelled, "Police, stop!"
Two of the men ran off, wrote Davidson, but Halsted continued running toward him. Davidson wrote that he yelled, "Police, stop now," and "Stop or I'm gonna Taser you," but that Halsted ignored his commands, so Davidson Tasered him. Davidson wrote in his police report that Halsted resisted arrest and required further physical restraint by Officers Joshua Faris and Trina Adams before he could be taken into custody.
Officers Ho, Adams, Davidson, and Faris did not respond to a call to the Northeast Precinct requesting comment.
"It's not my job to decide whether or not the officers did the right thing," says the cops' public information officer, Sergeant Brian Schmautz. "There is a process in place for people to complain if they feel like the officers have done something wrong. The officers documented their actions."