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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

BREAKING: No criminal charges for guards in skateboard attack

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 4:14 PM

  • Illustration by Jon Sperry
Three private security guards accused of attacking skateboarding teens in Pioneer Courthouse Square last year will not face assault charges in the incident, a grand jury ruled. The jury's decision, which occurred Monday, was confirmed by the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office this afternoon.

"We're disappointed but not surprised," said attorney Wendy Chung, working pro bono as an advocate for the victims. "There were extensive delays in the whole process."

The case had been stalled in the grand jury process for weeks, after a juror got sick and forced prosecutors, witnesses and defendants to reschedule for this past Monday, August 30. Chung said that made it difficult to keep continuity for jurors and line up witnesses.

The attack initially came to light after the three guards called Portland police officers after scuffling with the skatboarders, saying they had been victims in a fight with five or six youths.

Officers, however, didn't believe the guards. If anyone was on the attack, they concluded it was the guards. A home video shown on the Mercury's Web site weeks later confirmed that account—showing guard Nicholas Jones swinging a skateboard at one of the teens' heads.

A later inquiry by the Mercury also found that at the time of the altercation, Jones was working illegally. And Portland police officers initially decided not to file a police report about the incident at the request of the private security firm, Pacific Patrol Services. The report was written only after the video on the Mercury's Web site raised hell in City Hall.

Deputy District Attorney Greg Moawad said the grand jury may have decided one of two things: that the attack didn't happen, or that it was justified if it did. "I'm not present when they vote," he said. He acknowledged that the delay of proceedings was unusual, but that it was necessary to accommodate the ailing juror and find a time when everyone could reconvene.

Alan Pendergrass, owner of the security firm, did not respond to a message seeking comment. Chung said she had filed a state complaint against Jones and Pacific Patrol Services over Jones' lack of certification and that complaints against the other guards, Dimitriy Kolombet and Jason Allen, would be forthcoming.

"At the very least we can get him suspended," she said of Jones, "so he's not out there patrolling downtown. That's all we ever cared about. Since the cops and the DA won't do it, we'll have to find another way."

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