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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Videographer Sues Police Over Pepper Spray

Posted by Matt Davis on Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 12:09 PM

JOE ANYBODY: VIDEOS THE POLICE
  • JOE ANYBODY: VIDEOS THE POLICE
Local videographer Joe Anybody has filed suit against the police today over being pepper sprayed during March 2008 protests over the U.S.Invasion of Iraq. Anybody, whose real name is Mike Tabor, has a history of being harassed by police, as he videotapes police actions and protests. The bureau even made policy changes following a prior incident.

Tabor's new suit involves the pepper-spraying of people on the sidewalk during a protest in front of the Wells Fargo Tower on March 19, 2008, the 5th anniversary of the U.S. Invasion of Iraq. From his attorney, Aaron Vahola:

Michael Tabor, aka “Joe Anybody”, a freelance videographer, was videotaping the protest from the sidewalk. While there was some confrontation with the police elsewhere in the protest, there was no resistance to the police in his area. Lt. Mike Lee was walking through the crowd, and had his back turned to some protesters without incident.

Lee started pushing protesters without provocation, then directed Officer Aaron Schmautz to pepper-spray the crowd. Tabor was hit by the pepper spray, even though he was on the sidewalk and no threat to the police line.

This spraying was against PPB policy, handed down that same day, prohibiting use of broadcast spraying in most instances. See the attached memo from Chief Sizer, particularly Section 635.10(f)(3). The PPB violated this memo in this instance, broadcast spraying a crowd that was not surging at the police lines, including my client, Mr. Tabor.

Also note: Ronald Frashour, the officer who killed Aaron Campbell, was sued for Tasering a videographer several years ago. This is a pattern and practice of the Portland Police Bureau, and it is my opinion that a lack of accountability and punishment for officers who commit misconduct leads to repeat offenses, liability for the city, and even deaths, such as those of Campbell and Raymond Gwerder, who was killed in a manner shockingly similar to Campbell by an officer (Leo Besner) with a history of unprovoked violence against citizens.

We'll have video of the alleged incident around 5pm today. In the meantime it is against police bureau policy to comment on open lawsuits. Update, 5pm Here's the video:

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