Portland has agreed to remove two officers from public-facing policing duty pending an investigation by the city into alleged assaults on legal observers and journalists at racial justice protests this summer.

The agreement stemmed from a lawsuit against the city brought by the Oregon chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, alleging law enforcement had routinely targeted and assaulted journalists and legal observers covering the nightly demonstrations. A federal judge had issued a preliminary injunction against the police force in September, barring officers from arresting, threatening to arrest or assaulting anyone who “they know or should reasonably know” was either a journalist or legal observer.


The names of the two officers are blacked out in court documents. Their suspension was first reported by Courthouse News.

But according to someone familiar with the allegations, the two officers removed from public-facing duty are Justin Damerville and Craig Lehman, who are on the bureau’s Rapid Response Team and are under investigation for alleged assaults against legal observers and journalists.

Related: Federal judge finds Portland in contempt for violating order that limited use of tear gas, other munitions

According to the stipulation, attorneys with the ACLU had been preparing to ask the judge to find the city in contempt and order sanctions against both the city and the individual officers, but had agreed to try and resolve the dispute without returning to court. A federal judge recently found the city in contempt of another protest-related court order that limited police officers’ use of tear gas and other crowd control devices.

The parties have agreed to keep two officers currently under investigation off of “public-order policing duty.” If the city reinstates any officers before the disciplinary process is completed, the city must give the plaintiffs three days notice so they can ask a judge to find the city in contempt, according to the agreement.

This story may be updated.

Passport All Creatures Great and Small
Become a Sustainer and watch now!

Related Stories