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Friday, February 26, 2010

BREAKING: Officer Humphreys Vs. Beanbag Girl In Court

Posted by Matt Davis on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 at 1:58 PM

Officer Christopher Humphreys and Officer Aaron Dauchy are both expected to be called to the stand this afternoon to testify against the 12-year-old girl whom Officer Humphreys shot with a beanbag shotgun late last year. Humphreys was suspended over the incident, prompting 650 police union members to rally in his defense, wearing t-shirts reading "I am Chris Humphreys." Humphreys was subsequently reinstated, but claimed job stress and as far as we know has been off work on a disability claim ever since.

OFFICER AARON DAUCHY, CENTER, AND OFFICER CHRISTOPHER HUMPHREYS (RIGHT) OUTSIDE THE COURTROOM THIS AFTERNOON
  • OFFICER AARON DAUCHY, CENTER, AND OFFICER CHRISTOPHER HUMPHREYS (RIGHT) OUTSIDE THE COURTROOM THIS AFTERNOON

Deputy District Attorney Michael Reidel opened the case against the girl in juvenile court this morning. She is being charged with assaulting a public safety officer, resisting arrest, and interfering with public transportation.

"We are all here today because of her aggressive actions. Her violence," he said. "This case is about one thing, it's about [name redacted—juvenile] attacking officer Aaron Dauchy. This case is not complicated, it's common sense. She attacked Aaron Dauchy, and it's on video. It's also important that we discuss what this case is not about: It's not about a beanbag. It's not about other officers. It's not about ad-hoc opinions and monday morning quarterbacking. It's about an attack on Officer Dauchy for doing his job up close, in person, in real life, in real time, caught on video."

"On Nov.14th, 12 year old [name redacted—juvenile] was just trying to get home," said Stephen West, the attorney opening the case for the defense. "Eventually she did get home that night, but not before suffering injuries including being shot by a beanbag shotgun. The officer had multiple choices, multiple options, but he chose to pull her off the train even though she was sitting peacefully and quietly, and then escalated the situation from there on."

"It did all happen very quickly," West continued. "But what's most important is this involved a 12-year-old girl with mental health issues as her mother will testify, and a girl that both of these officers knew in advance was a 12-year-old girl. They knew they were dealing with a 12-year-old-girl. I believe the evidence will show that the struggle only started after Officer Dauchy escalated the situation by grabbing her hair. That he was pulling her arms back up, she reacted to the pain, said don't touch me like that, the ofc'er then said "eff you," i'll just use the letter 'f' there. And the video only shows [name redacted] doing a very slight turn with the upper half of her body, not pulling away as Officer Dauchy will claim."

West said there were "numerous contradictions and inconsistencies between the officers' report and what the video recorded." He said the state could not meet its burden to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updates coming. The case has been going on all morning in room 356 at the Multnomah County Courthouse. No cameras are allowed in the courtroom because it's a juvenile case, but reporters from the Oregonian and Mercury have both been documenting the proceedings.

Update, 4:18:

The trial has broken up for today and is expected to resume next week.

Officer Dauchy testified first, telling the court that he first saw the defendant when he and Officer Humphreys were driving their car alongside the MAX train. "I immediately looked at [name redacted—juvenile] and I told Officer Humphreys there's [name redacted—juvenile], and she has this nervous look on her face because we immediately lock eyes," he said.

Why did he decide to board the train in the first place?

"In the past we've had large parties that are broken up," he said. "Oftentimes if there's a fight at the party, it continues on the train. So if we see people on the train who are excluded or causing problems, we will pull them off. Often what that does, if the youth are causing a problem, other people in the group realize that we are going to take action and it usually puts an end to the misbehavior on the train."

Dauchy said the defendant struggled after he removed her purse, saying "you don't have to touch me."

"She's pulled away, she could have fallen forward and gone into traffic on Burnside," he said. "I reached out to gain control of her, trying to get on anything I could get ahold of to gain control of. I was reaching out for anything I could to get a hold of her. I got hold of her hair briefly."

"I had her left arm, the hair, I told her to stop resisting, and as I tried to pull her around, she turned round and punches me in the mouth with a closed fist. It surprised me," Dauchy continued. "I hit her a couple of times, or several times with a closed fist, and actually switched to a palm heel strike, one to gain control of her, two, defense, the reason I switched from closed fist to palm strikes is it's easier to break a hand with closed fist."

On cross examination, Dauchy appeared to admit that elements of his police report were made up.

"Your report says you saw 'numerous people running off the train,'" said Defense attoney West. "I'm going to play the video for you, and I want you to yell stop when you see that happen."

Dauchy never said stop. West asked Dauchy why he had decided to pursue the defendant using a "selective arrest," when such things are supposed to be cleared with an incident commander according to bureau policies. Dauchy also admitted that there was not, in fact, a large group of kids on the train when he stepped onto it.

"And in fact, it wasn't even a large group?" West asked.

"No, it had broken up into a small group," Dauchy responded.

"So that again contradicts your statement in your report."

"Well originally there were 75-100 kids," said Dauchy.

"You said 25-30 on the train, then 5-15 left train at this station. So how many?"

Dauchy also said the kids on the train were behaving, and denied telling the defendant to "shut the fuck up" when she asked him to stop hurting her arm.

Use of force expert Stephen Yurger said he had watched the video, and saw no reason for Officer Dauchy to reach out to grab the defendant's hair.

"If someone simply turns their head and says hey don't touch me like that, at that point we're going to have the officer go ahead an exert a little more pressure on the arm, because there's no other threat present that justifies the next level of force," he said.

The hair grab was "unnecessary," said Yurger. "All I saw on the video was a slight shoulder turn and head turn. there was no assault, no active resistance, there was no threat."

Another juvenile witness was also arrested at the scene by Officer Dauchy—for breaking his MAX exclusion. He told the court that Officer Dauchy put him in handcuffs and said, "stay there, or I'm going to shoot you."

Dauchy denied having said that. The witness also said he heard Dauchy tell the girl to "shut the fuck up."

A third juvenile witness said she heard Dauchy tell the girl to "shut the fuck up."

In the end, the defense declined to call Humphreys. However, attorney Lawrence Taylor showed up in court trying to frantically track Humphreys down.

"I've been trying to subpoena him for weeks now," said Taylor, who is representing Lisa Coppock in her criminal case relating to her alleged beating by Humphreys at a MAX stop last year.

Humphreys vanished without trace shortly before Taylor arrived in court.

More in next week's paper.

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