A Portland police officer who kicked a suspect in the street in front of multiple witnesses last October has been let off the hook by an internal affairs investigation.
The officer, Jason Lobaugh, was seen by a group of people at a bus stop Tasering a young African American suspect, then kicking him once after he was down, on the corner of NW Broadway and Glisan last October 11. Once the suspect was handcuffed, one of the witnesses, ezeji muYesu, says he asked Lobaugh why he had kicked the suspect. Lobaugh allegedly responded by threatening to "slam [muYesu] to the ground."
Along with another witness, who declined to be named in the press, muYesu complained to the city's Independent Police Review (IPR) last November. Then, on August 20, muYesu's attorney, Greg Kafoury, got a letter from the IPR saying there was insufficient evidence to prove Lobaugh had used excessive force in the incident, and exonerating Lobaugh for threatening to slam muYesu to the ground.
"Officer Lobaugh wanted to make it perfectly clear that your actions at that instant were unacceptable, and that you needed to immediately step back," wrote John Tellis, captain of the cops' Internal Affairs Division (IAD), in a letter to muYesu dated August 7, to explain Lobaugh's "slam" threat.
Because he did not want to become involved, muYesu says he had made a point of keeping back from the initial incident, and that Lobaugh was not being truthful when he told IAD he "had not yet applied the handcuffs" to the suspect when he made the threat.
"He's not telling the truth," says muYesu. "They turned the whole thing around and made it look like I was the perpetrator. It appears the public has been conditioned to accept that kind of behavior from the police.
"I feel powerless, sincerely," muYesu continues. "If that officer can do what he did in public, and with impunity, what could he do behind closed doors?"
Officer Lobaugh, according to a Willamette Week report in 2005, was investigated for suspected steroid abuse in 2000 and had racked up 14 notices threatening lawsuits for alleged misbehavior over the previous decade.
Kafoury is furious with the outcome of the complaint.
"The whole process is completely worthless, I don't want to dignify it [by appealing]," says Kafoury. "What does it take—two independent witnesses? Give me a break. Cops cannot be fired. They have abso-fucking-lute immunity."
IPR Assistant Director Pete Sandrock says six police officers have been fired or have resigned while under investigation by the IPR since January 2006. Lobaugh did not return a message left at Central Precinct by press time.