Skating By 

No Charges for Rent-a-Cops in Attack

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THE ALTERCATION, captured on video, is fairly clear cut: A security guard swings a skateboard at a 19-year-old who had been skating with friends at Pioneer Courthouse Square last November. ["Hitting the Bricks," News, Aug 12]

But last week, after a stop-and-start legal process that stretched months longer than normal, a grand jury declined to charge the guard and two others with criminal assault in connection with the attack.

The decision was confirmed last Wednesday, September 1, by the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office.

"They decided the case could not be proven," says Greg Moawad, the deputy district attorney handling the investigation.

The grand jury convened in June but had to disband after a juror fell ill. Jurors didn't reconvene until last month, an unusual hiatus meant to allow witnesses enough time to reschedule.

"We're disappointed but not surprised," says Wendy Chung, an attorney working as an advocate for the victims.

The grand jury's long break was one of several odd twists for a case that raises serious questions about the city's reliance on private security to patrol public places.

When police showed up after the November 25 fight, after the guards called and said they were victims, officers deferred to a supervisor at Pacific Patrol Services, the guards' employer, and didn't write a report.

That changed a month later, but only after video of the fight was posted on the Mercury's website, prompting outrage from city officials.

Additionally, an inquiry by the Mercury found that at the time of the altercation, the guard seen swinging the skateboard, Nicholas Jones, was working without credentials. The other two guards in the fight are Dimitriy Kolombet and Jason Allen.

Alan Pendergrass, owner of the security firm, has not returned messages seeking comment.

Chung says the victims' legal effort will have to adjust. She filed a complaint about Jones' credentials with the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, and noted that the victims retain the option of filing a civil lawsuit.

"At the very least we can get him suspended," she says of Jones, "so he's not out there patrolling downtown. That's all we ever cared about."

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