WATCH: Man Beaten, Shocked With Taser by Portland Police Awarded $562,000 by Jury

September 29, 2014

A jury on Monday awarded more than $562,000 to a man Portland police knocked face-down to the ground and repeatedly pummeled and zapped with a Taser.

In doing so, jurors 9-3 gave Jason Matthew Cox every penny he had sought. Jurors found Portland police committed a battery against Cox, who was 37 at the time of the June 28, 2011, incident.

Cox, now 40, testified during the five-day trial that he thought he was going to be beaten to death as Officers Jeffrey Elias, Robert Bruders and Sarah Kerwin took him into custody in a Southeast Portland parking lot under suspicion of drunken driving.

Cox said the verdict will change his life. “Fantastic,” Cox said, summing up how he was feeling.

He hugged his Portland attorneys Greg and Jason Kafoury.

“The Portland police are a law unto themselves,” Greg Kafoury said. “These officers will not be disciplined. …In the past 50 years, no Portland police officer has ever lost their job for physically abusing a citizen.”

As jurors left the Multnomah County Circuit courtroom, they shook Cox’s hand.

“Sorry this happened to you,” Justin Browning, a juror and Southeast Portland resident, told Cox. “It must be vindication. I know you’ve been through a lot.”

Browning said he hoped the verdict led to better training of police.

Cox and experts testified during trial that police irreparably injured his shoulder, meaning he could no longer work as an ironworker, a job in which he earned $33 an hour.

Portland police contended Cox was argumentative, furrowed his brow, tensed his muscles, wasn’t following police orders and appeared to want to fight as he resisted being handcuffed. He had consumed 32 ounces of Red Bull and vodka on an empty stomach that night, and his blood alcohol content three hours after the incident was .078 percent.

Cox and his attorneys, however, pointed to surveillance video that — unbeknownst to police during the encounter — recorded Elias and Bruders taking Cox to the ground and punching him in the head at least a half a dozen times.

A third officer, Kerwin, shocked Cox with a Taser four times in about 30 seconds — for a cumulative total of about 20 seconds of electricity cycling through Cox’s body.

Meanwhile, the video shows Cox didn’t swing at the officers.

Cox said he hoped the incident — which by chance was captured by surveillance camera — would push the city to require that all officers wear video cameras that would hold them more accountable.

“Body cameras, please,” Cox said. “Body cameras.”

The officers testified that their use of force was justified because Cox would not take his hands out from under his body in order to be handcuffed. Cox said that while he had been standing, he had cooperated by placing his hands behind his back in order to be cuffed, but instead, police took him to the ground.

Cox also told jurors he placed his hands in front of him to break his fall when taken to the ground. After that, he was in too much pain from the blows to the head and stuns from the Taser to be aware of what was happening, he said.

Cox’s attorneys said that police were annoyed with him because he’d tried to talk himself out of being arrested for driving under the influence of intoxicants. When Cox said he told one of the officers to go easy on a shoulder that he’d previously injured in the past, the officer yanked it up.

Browning, the juror, said that appears from the video that the yank appeared to have caused Cox to step forward in pain. And that prompted police to react by taking him to the ground, saying he was resisting, Browning said.

“He had his hands behind his back,” Browning said. “They could have just cuffed him there and sat him in their car.”

Dan Roberts, another juror, agreed that the video was a crucial piece of evidence.

“Mr. Cox did not appear to present a threat,” said Roberts, of Gresham. “He looked pretty compliant to me.”

Roberts also said he gave weight to a report written by a Portland Fire & Rescue paramedic who showed up to the scene and noted that officers were strangely tight-lipped around him. The paramedic wrote in his report that “police on scene very reluctant to give any info how (patient) was injured…”

Jurors deliberated about 4 1/2 hours before reaching their verdict.

Jurors awarded Cox $128,991 for lost wages and future earning capacity, $33,138 for medical bills that included shoulder surgery and $400,000 for pain and suffering.

After the verdict, Mayor Charlie Hales offered this statement Monday:

“While we don’t agree with the verdict, we appreciate the jury’s time and consideration of the evidence, and we respect the court’s process. Since the incident occurred in June 2011, the Police Bureau has changed its use-of-force policies and training to refocus on de-escalation. Mayor Hales is continuing to work with the bureau to improve relations with the community.”


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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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