Incidents of Police Misconduct in Portland, OR

This information covers the period: SEPT 1997- OCTOBER 1998
Featuring antics of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), Multnomah County Sheriff's Office (MCSO), and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)


More than 60 police in camouflage surround the trailer of 65-year-old Bill Utton who is shot to death by two of the cops.

Police Chief Charles Moose, for the second time in 6 months, rejects a majority vote of the City Council (acting in their capacity as the police review board) recommending a sustained finding in a case of police misconduct.

Police raid the Alternative Health Center, which provided medical marijuana to ill people, keeping director Diane Densmore in jail for 7 days without proper medical treatment.

Off-duty PPB Officer John Hurlman shoots George, a golden labrador retriever, instigating enormous outcry from the public.

OCTOBER, 1997:

A police car driving to a crime scene without emergency lights strikes and disables Mark Meddaugh in southeast Portland.

Reginald Gafford, 29-year-old in custody of the MCSO, is strapped to a backboard and given a sedative. He goes into cardiopulmonary arrest and dies.

Police conduct their annual sweeps of homeless campsites, arresting 21.

PPB Officer Steven Regalado is arrested for trafficking marijuana. He resigns in November.


Police arrest activist Craig Rosebraugh before he can even participate in a "Buy Nothing Day" protest downtown. At the same protest, a police horse steps on a protester's foot.


A police chase through southeast Portland kills two and injures a third when bystanders' car is hit by the fleeing suspect.

JANUARY, 1998:

Three members of the PPB's Marijuana Task Force (MTF) are shot (one of them killed) trying to perform a "knock-and-talk" warrantless search at a suspected drug house. The suspect, Steven Dons, is shot through the spine, which does not prevent police from firing several "non-lethal" rounds at him while he is lying on the floor.

Leopoldo Lucio is shot in the neck after allegedly pointing a chrome-plated air chisel at auto theft officer Jeffrey Bender.

Aaron Rahmen, 19, African-American, is shot in the head after allegedly pointing a gun at police.

A police chase ends when a suspected car thief crashes into an uninvolved vehicle, killing the driver and injuring the passenger.


Alleged cop-killer Steven Dons (see January) is found dead in his jail cell, supposedly having committed suicide by wrapping his bedsheet around his neck and raising the hospital bed.

At an "informal" session, Chief Moose refuses any suggestion that he come before the City Council to explain why he disagrees with their findings in cases of police misconduct. Citing the possibility that an officer may have come into his office crying, Moose calls the proposed testimony "a mockery" of the process.

The father of Deontae Keller, a young African-American who was shot in the back by Officer Terry Kruger in 1996, files suit with the City of Portland for $20.5 million.

MARCH, 1998:

Lawrence Holt, booked on charges of driving while intoxicated, somehow strangles himself by tying his shoelace to a telephone cord in his jail cell, though MCSO policy is to remove shoelaces when suspects are incarcerated.

INS agents raid a popular corner where Latino immigrants look for work, tackling, choking, and otherwise inflicting pain on those arrested.

APRIL, 1998:

Planned massive sweeps on homeless camps are called off when the Police's "Earth Day clean-up" partners fear protests against the action.

Police "round up" fifty-two young people downtown, charging only 6 with crimes, as part of their "Street Youth Mission."

MAY, 1998:

Brian Penton, 28, an African-American visiting from Tacoma, is pepper-sprayed by police and has all four limbs restrained. He dies at the scene.

Benjamin Allen Skinner of Northwest Portland is shot four times with "beanbag" rounds before Officer Richard Deland shoots him with a handgun.

JUNE, 1998:

Police following an "End Corporate Dominance" march downtown deploy non-lethal "beanbag" guns before violently arresting four people at the demonstration.

Police miraculously discover $310,000 in their 97-98 budget to pay for high-powered semi-automatic assault rifles.

JULY, 1998:

Police step up harassment of homeless clients at the St. Francis Church in southeast, making arrests for dropped cigarette butts and asking each person whether they've ever been arrested in Portland before.

Police and private security step up harassment of street youth in Pioneer Square, leading to an incident on July 29 leaving three people beaten by the security guards.

AUGUST, 1998:

Police shut down Sellwood Park, where a large birthday party is planned. The police hassle the party-goers later in northeast Portland. The next day, a non-violent protest is held upholding the rights of the black community to have fun. Police demand that the crowd disperse; when some people disperse in a direction the police don't like, they shoot "non-lethal" shotguns, hitting at least two and injuring Travis West, a former wrestling champion.

OCTOBER, 1998:

Portland Police kill four dogs during a "drug raid" on the home of Larry Anderson in St John's. This home happens to also be the location of an incident in 1979 when an officer was killed during a drug raid; the property is also badly wanted in 1998 by the county for a new health facility.

Richard Dow, 37, is killed in North Portland after being piled on by 7-8 officers. When it is apparent he needs immediate medical help, police tell witnesses "it's not my job." Police also beat Dow's parents after they try to stop the beating,by letting the cops know Dow has problems with mental illness.