UPDATED with comments from Portland Police Bureau, below the break
November 25, 2009: A Pioneer Courthouse Square private security guard is caught on video, apparently hitting a kid over the head with his own skateboard. Here's a refresher:
Police records relating to the incident show that Portland police officers decided, after consultation with the private security guards, not to write up a police report on the incident because the report would "not be in a favorable light" for the guards.
Pioneer Courthouse Square is patrolled by guards from Pacific Patrol Services, who are contracted by Pioneer Courthouse Square, Inc., which leases the land from the Portland Parks Bureau. A day after the Mercury blogged about the incident (including the above video), Parks commissioner Nick Fish released a statement saying the case would be referred to the district attorney. "Because it is currently under investigation," said Fish, "I cannot comment further on this matter."
Now, in August 2010, the district attorney still has not completed a grand jury process to decide whether or not to indict the private security guards: Dimitriy Kolombet, 20; Nicholas Jones, 22; and Jason Allen, 23. A month ago, the tentative grand jury date was cancelled because a
witness for the guards [correction, 8/6: juror was ill]. More information, and police reports, after the jump.
After the altercation, the skateboarders (described as a group of 5-6 "street kids" in a subsequent police report)
fled the scene, and [correction, 8/6: were shown on video peacefully conversing with the guards and then walking away.] Kolombet and Jones summoned two Portland police officers and told them their version of events: that Kolombet was hit by one of the kids on the left ear, and that Jones had a camera knocked out of his hand with a skateboard, and retaliated by punching its bearer in the side of the head. Allen said he came later and tried to break up the fight.
The police reports that exist for the incident were written after the fact: Officer David Abrahamson wrote a report on the day before Christmas; Officer Israel Holsti wrote his recollection of the event on January 9. This was only after the Mercury, television stations, Fish, Transworld Skateboarding, and other outlets had publicized the incident. One of the skateboarders and his lawyer met with police about the incident in late December, trying to get an investigation started. They requested police reports on January 4 (five days before Holsti's report was written), and received them on February 2.
So what did the city cops do at the scene? Abrahamson spoke by cell phone with the security guards' manager: "I told [Supervisor Michelle] Timfichuk that if the skateboarder had not engaged into mutual combat, I would have most likely arrested her security officer for assault," he wrote in his December police report. In his notebook, he wrote: "It seems that the security guards overreacted and might be at fault of being the aggressor."
He also spoke with another supervisor:
I spoke with Hartshorn (a supervisor) privately, who is the shift supervisor for Pioneer Square Security. I informed Hartshorn of the incident and told him per Officer Holsti's and my interviews, I believed his security officer had acted unprofessionally. I told Hartshorn since the altercation was a mutual combat and because we did not have a victim, I was not required to write an investigative report...
Eventually, the officers agreed with the supervisors not to file a report:
I also told Timfichuk if I were to write a report it would most likely not be in a favorable light for Pioneer Square Security. Timfichuk said she would appreciate if I did not write a report at this time and stated Pioneer Square Security would handle the incident in-house.
Update 8/6 8:20 am: Corrected some factual mistakes (struck out parts above).
Update 8/6 12:52 pm: Police bureau spokesperson Kelli Sheffer called to clarify some of the bureau's policies regarding reports. An "investigative report," which the officer voluntarily did not write, would indicate the start of an investigation. A "special report," what you see above, can be written at any time as a record of an officer's account of a situation. In this case, the guards were claiming to the the victims (Fish's statement said that one guard suffered "minor injuries"), but it appeared to the officers that they were the aggressors. Since the possible victims (skateboarders) were not on the scene, any investigative report would have claimed the guards as victims but depicted them to be aggressors. Nevertheless, anyone claiming to be a victim has the option to file a report: "Sometimes people want to press the issue, and say, 'I want to be the victim.' We can technically list them as the victim, but the officer is going to write an investigative narrative that shows what the investigation reveals," says Sheffer.
When one of the skateboarders approached police in December, they had another possible "victim," so they opened an investigation, and most likely got these special reports written as evidence. Because the case is still going through the Grand Jury process, the police bureau refuses to comment on this specific case. Sheffer did say, however, that there is a second round of investigative reports that are not yet publicly available. These documents have not been released to the Mercury's sources.
We have calls out to Pacific Patrol Services. Here are the police reports (download a PDF here):
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