The Oregon Department of Justice is reviewing a Portland Police Bureau detective for possible criminal charges related to use of force at last summer’s racial justice protests.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office confirmed Tuesday that Det. Erik Kammerer’s actions have been referred to the state.
“The request for ODOJ involvement was made by DA (Mike) Schmidt because of a potential conflict of interest in our office,” district attorney spokesperson Brent Weisberg wrote in an email late Tuesday night.
The announcement came hours after Schmidt announced Portland police Officer Corey Budworth had been indicted by a grand jury for fourth-degree assault after his alleged excessive force during an Aug. 18 protest.
Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment.
Kammerer was a constant presence at protests throughout 2020, and his aggressive tactics earned him infamy among protesters, who knew him primarily by the number identifier emblazoned on his helmet. Kammerer, or officer 67 as he was known, came to represent everything the protesters were fighting against.
Besides the potential criminal investigation announced Tuesday, Kammerer is also the subject of two pending lawsuits, a civil lawsuit in Multnomah County and a federal lawsuit.
In the federal lawsuit filed in April, Hanna Ahern alleges that after she spit on the ground in the direction of riot police during a 2019 protest, Kammerer falsified information leading to Ahern’s arrest.
“Video evidence shows that Defendant Kammerer knew that he did not have probable cause; he merely wanted to punish Ms. Ahern for showing contempt for the riot police,” the complaint reads. “Defendant Kammerer falsified his observations of Ms. Ahern to both the arresting officers — who blindly followed his directives and violently arrested her — and in his police reports, thus leading to a criminal charge of Disorderly Conduct II.”
Ahern is suing the City of Portland, Kammerer and five officers whose names she does not know for false arrest and battery.
Kammerer is also being sued by Elijah Warren, a Black Portlander who was in his home on Sept. 5 when tear gas from nearby riot police seeped into his house. After the tear gas started to bother his son, son’s friend and the family dog, Warren went outside to talk to the officers.
“An officer was listening to plaintiff when defendant Kammerer hit plaintiff in the head from behind with a baton, causing injury,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit says officers had to pull Kammerer off of Warren, who suffered a concussion, laceration to his ear that required stitches, “and may permanently suffer from pain, humiliation, feeling of racial stigmatization, and fear of police.”
Warren is suing the City of Portland and Kammerer for $400,000.
In a third pending lawsuit, Kammerer was allegedly driving an unmarked police car in Southeast Portland when his vehicle drifted into the lane next to him, pushing another vehicle into a concrete barrier. The plaintiff in that lawsuit, who is seeking just under $50,000, alleges they suffered back and neck injuries as a result of the accident.
Should Kammerer be indicted for his use of force during protests, he would be the third Portland police officer to face such a fate, joining Budworth and Officer Scott Groshong, who was indicted in September for driving a van into a protester downtown.