Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced on Tuesday that his office indicted Portland Police Bureau Officer Corey Budworth with one count of fourth degree assault, a misdemeanor, for physically injuring someone during an Aug. 18, 2020, protest.
Budworth was assigned to the Portland Police Bureau’s Rapid Response Team at the time of the alleged assault.
“In this case, we allege that no legal justification existed for Officer Budworth’s deployment of force, and that the deployment of force was legally excessive under the circumstances,” Schmidt said in a statement on Tuesday. “My office will continue to do everything we can to ensure justice is done without error or delay and that we make sure our work and practices are rooted in fairness and equity.”
Budworth is accused of hitting activist photographer Teri Jacobs from behind with a baton. Several videos of the incident posted to social media show Jacobs with her hands over her head moving away as officers clear a street near the Multnomah Building on Southeast Hawthorne Avenue. An officer in the video, identified as Budworth, hits Jacobs once in the head from behind, and then hits her head again after she falls to the ground.
Cop 37 shoves woman hitting her from behind in the head with baton, then hits her again in the face with baton while she is sitting on the ground pic.twitter.com/t4phwbWpsK— John #FreePalestine (@Johnnthelefty) August 19, 2020
A Multnomah County grand jury agreed to bring the charge against Budworth. Both he and Jacobs testified before the jury this month.
The Portland Police Association, the union representing rank-and-file officers, said the charges were politically driven.
“Unfortunately, this decorated public servant has been caught in the crossfire of agenda-driven city leaders and a politicized criminal justice system,” the officers union wrote in a statement, describing Jacobs as a rioter engaging in criminal activity.
State records show Budworth started as an officer with the Portland Police Bureau in July 2015.
In February, the city of Portland settled a lawsuit with Jacobs, who was wearing press credentials at the time of the alleged assault, for $50,000.
“Teri Jacobs, was brutally beaten in the head, neck, back, and face with a baton by Corey Budworth at a protest. Officers nearby did not intervene to stop him,” her attorney, Juan Chavez, said in a statement on Tuesday. “One indictment, while undoubtedly significant and a wakeup call to Portland Police officers, will not fix problems with policing in our city.”
Budworth’s actions at the protest may also run afoul of Portland police directives on the use of force. According to bureau policy, officers using baton strikes should not “deliberately target the head or throat, neck, spine, or groin unless deadly force would be authorized.”
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said he was limited in what he could say because of the ongoing litigation, but said that the bureau’s accountability mechanisms sometimes take time to work.
“PPB has worked hard over the years to revamp our policies and training and we continue to look for additional ways to maintain our community’s trust,” Lovell said. “I ask for the community’s patience as we follow the guidelines of the established internal accountability process.”
Tuesday’s indictment is the second against a Portland police officer stemming from last year’s racial justice protests during which the bureau documented more than 6,000 use of force incidents against protesters.
Officer Scott Groshong was working undercover at a protest in June when he observed people breaking into a store downtown. Video shows the van Groshong was driving accelerating toward a man running from the store before knocking him to the ground.
The incident was investigated by the Salem police. Groshong retired in August after a 27-year career, two months before he was charged with three counts of first-degree official misconduct, three counts of second-degree official misconduct, two counts of failure to perform the duties of a driver, and one count of third-degree assault for that incident. Groshong pleaded not guilty to all nine charges.