Portland Police Say It’s Fine If Officers Punch Suspects They Think are Noncompliant in the Face

The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) says it’s cool if officers elbow and punch suspects in the face if the cops think they are resisting arrest.

So said PPB Lt. Craig Morgan at Wednesday night’s Citizen Review Committee (CRC) meeting, explaining why he decided not to punish an officer who punched a man whose arm officers weren’t able grasp as they pinned him to the ground with their knees.

“The reality is punching—causing a short, hopefully non-enduring pain elsewhere to somebody—can cause them to focus their mental energies on that area,” Lt. Morgan explained yesterday, “which will in turn lower the resistance to the arm they’re trying to get out, and that’s what happened in this case.”

The suspect, accused of robbing a Southeast Portland bank, was pinned facedown on the ground by officers who caught up to him after a foot chase. One of the cops was able to grab his right arm to handcuff him, but his left arm remained under his body. The man said he couldn’t remove his arm because of all the weight on him. Cops said he was intentionally resisting, so one punched him in the face at least twice, an investigation showed. He’d eventually get cuffed.

Here’s what the guy told investigators:

There was so much weight on me that they were trying to pull my left arm out and they kept punching me in the face and they were kneeing me in the side repeatedly. Like two of them took turns kneeing me in the side. Like one got off of me, was kneeing me and they couldn’t pull my arm out because there was a thousand pounds wroth of weight on my back. I mean, I couldn’t pull my arm out and they couldn’t pull my arm out. Finally, a couple of them jumped off of me and yanked my arm out, my left arm, and pulled it and handcuffed me.

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