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Native American man sues police alleging bogus detention

UPDATED: Tue., May 17, 2022

Associated Press

PORTLAND — A lawsuit alleges a Salem, Oregon, police officer accused a Native American man of stealing a car he was working on, grabbed him, shoved him onto the hood of his police car and handcuffed him with no justification for arrest.

The lawsuit says the officer then placed Christopher Garza in the back of his patrol car and learned that Garza lived and worked at the auto shop property, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Garza on Tuesday filed the federal civil rights suit against Salem police and Salem Officer David Baker, a nine-year member of the department.

He alleges Baker held him on Sept. 17, 2021, with no reasonable suspicion or probable cause, used excessive force to handcuff him and violated his constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure.

Garza was with two Latino men at about 12:30 a.m. when Baker drove up, according to the lawsuit and a police report. One of them, a friend of Garza’s, had driven there because his car had overheated, according to Jason Kafoury, an attorney representing Garza, 47.

Angela Hedrick, a Salem police spokesperson, said the department would not comment on the pending litigation.

The suit seeks $20,000 in damages to cover Garza’s medical costs, seeks unspecified noneconomic damages for his “personal violation” and “racial stigmatization” and punitive damages to deter officers from stopping people without reasonable suspicion.

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