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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Insufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Portland detective over force used during protests, state investigators find

By Maxine Bernstein Oregonian

The Oregon Department of Justice found insufficient evidence that Portland police Detective Erik Kammerer committed a crime when he made arrests or used force during four protests in June and September 2020 as a member of the Police Bureau’s Rapid Response Team, according to a letter released Friday.

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt had asked state attorneys to investigate allegations that Kammerer – identified in photos and videos as “Officer 67” – used excessive force against people during racial justice protests.

“After extensive investigation and legal research, there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Detective Kammerer committed any criminal act with respect to the four allegations investigated,” Jayme Kimberly, a senior assistant attorney general, wrote to Schmidt.

“As you know, the scope of our investigation was limited to possible criminal charges, and it did not encompass review for administrative, regulatory, policy, ethical, or other violations. Therefore, we reach no conclusions as to the propriety of Detective Kammerer’s conduct outside of our criminal review.’’

Kammerer faced allegations that he pushed Leslie Mclam and put his hands on her throat on June 4, 2020, near the Justice Center; struck a man in the head with a baton, causing an ear and head injury on Sept. 5, 2020, near Southeast 17th Avenue and Washington Street; pushed Melissa Lewis to the ground causing an ankle injury on Sept. 23, 2020, near Southwest Broadway and Salmon Street; and pushed Tealana Lindseth to the ground causing a leg injury.

Kimberly cited hurdles in the investigation, including the confidential nature of internal affairs investigations and reports and difficulty obtaining interviews with officers.

The state Justice Department reviewed hundreds of pages of police reports, more than 100 hours of videos, lawsuit filings, social media accounts and transcripts of Kammerer’s statements to internal affairs. They also interviewed three of the people who said they were injured by Kammerer.

Kammerer made physical contact with protesters and independent journalists, but there wasn’t evidence to support findings he acted with the intent to harass or harm them or the force he used was unreasonable, the letter said.

From May 29, 2020, through Nov. 15, 2021, during the height of the protests in Portland sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Portland police used force more than 6,000 times, according to a federal Justice Department report.

Police sometimes targeted people who attended protests but weren’t involved in violence through “guilt by association” or focused on people simply because they were slow-walking away when ordered to disperse, federal investigators found.

Last February, the U.S. Justice Department found that the Police Bureau failed to meet four key reforms required under its 2014 settlement agreement, including inappropriate police use and management of force during last year’s protests, inadequate training and subpar police oversight.

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