The entire crowd control unit of Portland police resigned from the service a day after a grand jury in Oregon indicted an officer for allegedly using “unlawful force” on a protester.
According to the reports, the Portland Police Bureau said that members of its Rapid Response Team (RRT) resigned as a group on Wednesday following the indictment of a fellow officer. Nearly 50 officers, detectives, and sergeants have resigned from their posts, said acting Police Chief Chris Davis at a press briefing.
The members of the RRT, who are on a voluntary assignment, receive advanced specialized training to respond to incidents such as public-order policing as well as man-made and natural disasters. Their primary role is to provide crowd control at events including protests.
The officers, who resigned from the team, will now return to Portland police to continue their regular assignments, the bureau said in a statement.
The mass resignation came one day after officer an officer identified as Corey Budworth was charged by a Multnomah County grand jury for allegedly assaulting and “unlawfully” causing physical injury to a protestor at a rally on August 18, 2020, near the Multnomah Building in Portland. Budworth, who was a member of the RRT, has been placed on administrative leave.
Following the indictment of officer Budworth, District Attorney Mike Schmidt claimed that there was no legal justification existed for Officer Budworth’s deployment of force and that the deployment of force was legally excessive under the circumstances.
The indictment marked the first time that a Portland police officer faced prosecution for striking or firing at someone during a protest.
Portland police slam jury for indicting a police officer
Meanwhile, the Portland Police Association has slammed the judgement of the jury saying it as a “politically driven charging decision.”
In a Facebook post, the Portland Police Association said, “Unfortunately, this decorated public servant has been caught in the crossfire of agenda-driven city leaders and a politicized criminal justice system”. The association said that Budworth was trying to restore order during a chaotic night of burning and destruction when he was knocked to the ground while trying to clear demonstrators.
As an officer attempted to arrest one of the demonstrators, other protesters allegedly interfered. In his defence, Budworth used his police-issued baton to “push” a demonstrator, causing the person to fall to the ground, the union said.
“Thinking the person was going to get back up to re-engage, Budworth allegedly tried to push the person again with his baton but accidentally struck the person in the head,” the union said in its post.
Portland – the epicentre of left-wing riots in the US last year
Last year, Portland saw a series of riots following the death of George Floyd, an African-American who allegedly died after a police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.
The left-wing protestors unleashed riots in the city, which became the scene of unrest for months. The left-wing groups, anarchist, and Antifa protestors attacked police officials and supporters of the then US President Donald Trump during these riots. The Portland police had declared a riot in multiple such demonstrations and arrested several people during the course of those months.
During the riots that took place in Portland in August last year, police had said that the rioters had blocked traffic was blocked, who vandalised and set the Multnomah Building on fire. As police tried to disperse the crowd, they were struck with projectiles, the department had said in a release.
During the riots, a rioter identified as Teri Jacobs had claimed that she was hit by Budworth’s baton. She later filed a civil lawsuit saying that she was working as a photojournalist when the officer knocked her to the ground. The city had paid the lady a compensation of $50,000 early this year.