Vigil Ups the Ante 

Crowd Prays for Police Accountability

A crowd of over 100 gathered to light candles, pray, and call for an end to police violence on the corner of NW Hoyt and Broadway last Saturday—near the spot where a 15-year-old autistic boy, Sir Millage, survived being Tasered repeatedly and struck by Portland Police on December 5.

Police found Millage—who at 240 pounds is described by his own mother, Grace Forbes, as "big for his age"—wearing only shorts as he walked across the Broadway Bridge in the early hours that morning. He'd escaped through the window of his great grandmother's house in North Portland.

Officer Andrew Griggs, the first to encounter Millage, wrote in his report he was struck by the teenager's "fixed gaze" and refusal to comply with the officers' verbal commands to stop. Griggs also wrote that Millage, who was holding a piece of plastic from a chain-link fence, was "coming at me with the physical actions of attack"—so he Tasered him 11 times, believing he was impervious to the effects of the weapon because he might be high on drugs. It turns out the Taser's probes did not make proper contact with Millage's skin.

Backup Officer Michael Chapman then struck Millage seven times with his baton as the boy tried to get up. Millage was then Tasered again—that officer's name hasn't been released—before being taken into custody.

Millage's relatives, including his great grandmother and legal guardian, Pastor Mary Overstreet Smith of North Portland's Powerhouse Temple Church, say the cops should have realized he was autistic and that they used "excessive force" in apprehending him. Millage's name is even kept on file with the bureau as a disabled teen.

"He made eye contact with the policeman. You just have to look in his eyes and realize something is wrong," Overstreet Smith told the Mercury. "This is not going to stop here."

Whether or not the officers used excessive force will be decided by the police bureau's use-of-force board. But the cops' spokesperson, Brian Schmautz, defends their actions. "You can't just let a guy walking down the street in the middle of the night go and get hit by a car," he says.

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