Mike Marshman before he was sworn in as police chief last week.
Mike Marshman before he was sworn in as police chief last week.

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Mike Marshman's been police chief for eight days, and he's already releasing a criminal investigation into himself.

After news broke late last week that Marshman choked his former step-son more than a decade ago—an incident that apparently left marks on the 16-year-old's neck—Marshman released both all the 2006 investigative files into that incident and his complete personnel file.

It's a rare and sort of stunning move by the new chief, who's stressed accountability and "community trust" since being promoted last Monday (and it's probably the cheapest any substantive police record has been in this city in years). And the files at times paint a deeply unflattering picture of Marshman.

"In reading the investigative reports for the first time this weekend, I was reminded of and felt sadness over a failed relationship," Marshman wrote in a statement accompanying the files. He has since divorced the mother of the apparent victim (and prosecutors have long-since declined to file charges, partly because the statute of limitations had expired for a possible charge). "It was a volatile situation and I grabbed my stepson and shoved him up against the wall," Marshman continues. "I realize that this encounter was not my finest hour as a parent and is a moment that I regret."

The documents show Marshman's then step-son called him an "asshole" when asked to turn off a light in their Sauvie Island home, prompting Marshman to grab him and push him up against a wall. The incident wasn't investigated for years, until 2006, when a pair of anonymous letters were sent to police detailing the encounter.

Investigators looking into the incident subsequently photographed dents in the wall where the incident occurred, the documents show. They persisted after Marshman and his ex-wife had moved out. Marshman's ex also provided pictures of the marks Marshman left on his stepson, which included "fingerprints on one side and thumbprints on another and yellowing in the center," according to the files.

An interview with the unnamed victim in the incident shows Marshman asked him to repeat himself after the boy called him an asshole. He did and Marshman "choked him and he couldn't breathe and then he dropped him." The victim said Marshman "realized he had done something stupid," and came to talk to the boy shortly afterward about "getting a counselor."

"This is a time where the members of the community as well as the members of the Portland Police Bureau have lost faith in its leaders," Marshman says in his statement. "I hope that by releasing this information and talking about it, it will demonstrate that my commitment for the Bureau to be transparent and accountable starts with me."

But the incident in question was apparently not the only physical altercation Marshman got into with his former stepson. His ex-wife told investigators of another incident when the boy was approximately nine years old. She said she found Marshman on top of the boy in their bathroom, hitting him. The incident didn't leave any marks, she said.

Marshman was aware that the incidents might have an effect on his employment, according to the investigative reports. They note that he and his ex-wife purposefully didn't mention them to a marriage counselor, for fear that "something might happen to Mike and his job if they did."

Marshman's personnel file is nearly 200 pages long, and includes a slew of commendation letters and glowing performance reviews, along with at least one letter of proposed discipline against Marshman, stemming from his use of force in the 1995 arrest of a homeless man. Then Chief Charles Moose ordered Marshman to receive "command counseling" in that case.

Here's the investigative file Marshman released [PDF].

And here's his personnel file [PDF].

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