Racial profiling and stop and frisk

Last year, Portland police approached someone who was waiting for a bus in Southeast Portland, thinking the commuter looked like a suspect wanted for rifling through mailboxes in the area.

The thief’s description: a Hispanic man, late 30s, 5-feet-4 to 5-feet-6, with a thin build, wearing a cream-colored beanie, black jacket and carrying a black backpack.

The person detained: Lisa Haynes, an African American woman in her late 40s who stands 4-foot-10-inches tall.

Haynes declined to give police her name, contending they didn’t explain why they were questioning her. When she grabbed her backpack, two officers struggled to handcuff her and put her in the back of a police car, arresting her for interfering with police and disorderly conduct.

In the end, the officers let her go and Haynes filed a complaint, alleging an inappropriate stop and search, excessive force and police use of profanity. A lieutenant found the officers did nothing wrong.

This week, the supervisor of the Portland Police Bureau‘s Internal Affairs Division made the rare decision to do another investigation, only after a citizen committee blasted the police review as incomplete.

“Even at this late stage” said Capt. Dave Famous, “there’s still time to do the right thing.”

At a hearing Tuesday night before the Citizen Review Committee, Haynes said the encounter made her “feel humiliated, vulnerable and scared.”

“Look at me. I’m 4-foot-10. I’m a mother of four. … Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think this would happen to me,” she said.

Haynes had appealed the police findings to the committee for review.

Committee members found internal affairs failed to interview all potential witnesses, did not consider Haynes’ allegation that the police stop was inappropriate and potentially discriminatory, and allowed reports on old encounters police had with Haynes and her son that were irrelevant to remain in the case file for review.

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