PORTLAND, Ore. – A video provided to KATU News by its news partners at Willamette Week shows Portland police officers punching and using a stun gun on a man.
It has raised the question whether officers were justified to use force in making the arrest. As Willamette Week first learned, the man in the video, Jason Cox, is now suing the city of Portland for more than $500,000.
In June 2011, Jason Cox was pulled over by police officers in Southeast Portland. They suspected he was driving under the influence. Cox's attorney, Greg Kafoury, says the video speaks for itself.
The incident happened at Pallas Club, a Southeast Portland strip club near 136th and Powell.
The club's motion-activated security camera captured the traffic stop in the club's parking lot.
Cox can be seen arguing with officers. His attorney says the discussion centered on whether Cox was speeding as he left a nearby bar.
"Officers are allowed to use reasonable force under all circumstances. What you see here is officers choosing to punish someone because they take offense at his attitude," Kafoury said.
He said the edits that can be seen in the video are the result of the motion-activated cameras.
After one such editing gap, officers move to spread Cox's legs, but it leads them all to fall to the ground. Before Cox is handcuffed, Kafoury says his client moves his arms forward to protect himself. That leads to a struggle with officers looking to regain control.
One officer administers a series of Taser shocks while another officer begins to punch Cox in the face a total of six times with his left hand.
"The police report indicates that the guy is fighting them, kicking at them, resisting in every form. And what you see is a helpless guy and his face just getting pounded by police officers," Kafoury said. “There is no reason for this guy to be hurt at all.”
Portland police say they're limited in responding to the lawsuit, but a spokesperson pointed out that both police Internal Affairs and the Independent Police Review Board examined the video and their reports and found officers acted within police bureau policy and state law.
Kafoury would prefer to let a jury decide.
"The Police Review Board, every aspect of the internal affairs operation, is completely rigged in favor of the police," he said. “There hasn't been a police officer fired for physically injuring a citizen in this town in my lifetime."
Cox's blood alcohol content turned out to be .07, just shy of the legal limit of .08, but he was charged with several crimes and ultimately pleaded guilty to DUII.
The lawsuit includes $18,000 to cover Cox's surgery for torn shoulder muscles and the income he lost as an ironworker.
Watch the video provided by the Portland Police Bureau:
Watch the video given to the Willamette Week: