Portland City Council agreed Wednesday to award Portlander James Mattox $22,882 for legal fees and injuries caused by a police officer during a 2018 protest.
Mattox was wounded during a tense August 2018 protest in downtown Portland when, after flipping off a Portland police officer, he was shot in the arm by an officer's rubber bullet. The gash creating a lasting scar and emotional trauma, according to an October 2019 lawsuit filed against the city and Portland Police Bureau (PPB) by three injured protesters—including Mattox.
The lawsuit accused the unidentified PPB officer who shot Mattox of intentionally chilling Mattox's "political speech," thus violating his constitutional rights.
Instead of allowing Mattox's case to go to trial, the city's risk management office advised city officials to reach a financial agreement with Mattox and his lawyers.
"The investigation indicates there is risk the City may be found liable," reads the draft ordinance presented to City Council Wednesday morning. "Therefore, in order to avoid the risk of an adverse jury award, we feel it is prudent to compromise the lawsuit at this time."
During the Wednesday hearing, Deputy City Attorney Rob Yamachika explained that around $10,000 of the settlement will go to Mattox, and $12,000 to his attorneys.
All four commissioners voted in favor of the settlement. Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty was the only commissioner to comment on the decision, noting that the city's ability to reach an agreement with Mattox gave her a "sense of comfort."
But the lawsuit itself isn't closed. The other two protesters included in the joint lawsuit, Aaron Cantu and Tracy Molina, are not planning on accepting a settlement, according to their legal team. They'd like their accusations against PPB's use of force to go to trial.
The most recent action in that case: On April 30, Judge Stacie Beckerman denied a request by the National Police Association to assist in the city's defense of PPB.