County deputies arrested a newly retired Portland police officer Thursday, after a grand jury accused the ex-cop of hitting a person with an unmarked police van on June 15. The incident took place just two months before the officer, Scott Groshong, left the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), at the height of Portland's protests against police brutality. On Monday, Groshong pleaded not guilty to all nine felony and misdemeanor charges.
Groshong was working undercover the night of the incident, assigned to monitor that night's protest activity in downtown Portland from an unmarked black van. According to court records obtained by the Oregonian, Groshong had witnessed people breaking into Portland Skate and Snowboard shop—on NW 9th and Davis—before the incident took place. Video captured by a bystander shows Groshong's van accelerating towards a man crossing the street near the shop—and knocking the pedestrian off their feet—before driving away. According to the owner of Portland Skate and Snowboard, this man was in possession of a stolen helmet from the shop when he was hit.
Two weeks passed before the PPB opened an investigation into the incident and removed Groshong from patrol duties. PPB then handed the criminal investigation over to the Salem Police Department to avoid any conflicts of interest. Groshong retired in August, in the midst of the investigation.
On October 21, a grand jury indicted Groshong for allegedly assaulting a person with a vehicle, not stopping to offer aid, failing to report the incident to law enforcement, and a number of other related claims. Groshong turned himself in at the Multnomah County Justice Center the following day—and was released without needing to pay bail.
This isn't the first time Groshong has been accused of assaulting a member of the public while on duty.
In October 2015, Groshong was exiting PPB's downtown garage in an SUV when he noticed Robert West—a man who frequently videotapes police—filming his car. West's video shows Groshong stopping the car, stepping out of his SUV, and approaching West to briefly grab at the video camera before hopping back in the car and driving away. The brief encounter sparked a months-long investigation by the city's Independent Police Review (IPR), one that was challenged by Groshong's boss, Captain Mark Kruger (a now-retired PPB officer known for erecting a memorial to Nazi soldiers in a public park two decades ago). The investigation ended with little punishment: Groshong was assigned a mandatory meeting with PPB command staff to be advised about his actions.
The recent charges could land Groshong with harsher punishment. He is facing two Class B felonies (among other lower-level charges), charges that can be punishable with up to 10 years in prison or a $250,000 fine (or both). Groshong's next court appearance is set for December 14.
The Portland Police Association (PPA), PPB's union for rank-and-file officers, has condemned Groshong's indictment. In a public statement penned last week, PPA President Daryl Turner claimed Groshong was innocent, and accused the Marion County District Attorney's Office of failing to provide the grand jury with all evidence.
The Marion County District Attorney's office delivered a cool response to to this claim in a Monday press release.
"The publication of inaccurate or incomplete information in any criminal matter is contrary to the proper function of the criminal justice system in Oregon," the emailed release reads. "It misleads the public, creates confusion, and may violate the due process of an accused or the constitutional rights of a victim."