The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office is weighing criminal charges against another active duty Portland police officer stemming from last summer’s racial justice protests, OPB has learned.
“The officer’s name is Thomas Clark,” according to Joe Piucci, a civil rights and personal injury attorney representing a protest medic named Tyler Cox, who works as an intensive care unit nurse at Oregon Health and Sciences University.
OPB first reported Cox’s arrest back in September, days after it happened.
The revelation of another officer potentially facing charges comes one week after District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced a misdemeanor assault charge against a police officer for allegedly hitting a protester in the head and neck from behind as she walked away from police. Schmidt also referred another case to the Oregon Department of Justice for possible charges. That contributed to the police bureau’s entire Rapid Response Team resigning from their voluntary positions on the team, though they kept their jobs within the bureau itself.
“The officer’s name was first disclosed in the Independent Police Review Board process,” Piucci said of Cox’s case. “That investigation was placed on hold while the district attorney’s office conducted a criminal, internal investigation into the officer’s conduct. And that investigation is ongoing, as I understand it.”
The incident for which Clark is being investigated took place Aug. 31, after police declared a riot in the city’s Pearl District.
Video uploaded to social media shows a line of police pushing protesters back along Northwest 12th Street. Around 11:30 p.m., one officer runs ahead of the line and appears to weave into a group of protesters before grabbing someone from behind and tackling them to the street.
A police officer runs ahead of his line, tackles a protester, and starts punching them on the ground pic.twitter.com/gpwmMjwuWC— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) September 1, 2020
Piucci said the officer was Clark and the person tackled was Cox.
Next, the video appears to show Cox on his back with Clark on top of him. The officer’s hand is on Cox’s face, and the other hand appears to be near Cox’s neck.
Cox raises his arms, knocking the officer’s helmet off. Almost simultaneously, the officer begins to punch the person identified as Cox at least three times, the video appears to show.
“What did I do?” Cox appears to say at one point in one video.
Other officers quickly run up to assist, though the one identified as Clark stays on top of Cox as Clark appears to try and tug off Cox’s goggles and helmet. Cox’s hands stay open, near his face.
“I’m not fighting you,” Cox appears to say.
Officers roll Cox onto his stomach and Clark and another officer zip tie his wrists.
“Tyler Cox was assaulted by a police officer,” Piucci said.
On Aug. 31 after Cox was arrested, he was taken to OHSU’s emergency room and later to jail. He was charged with assaulting a public safety officer, a felony, and three misdemeanors including resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Those charges were dropped in November, records show.
Cox told OPB in September that before he was released from jail, a police sergeant told him that he had punched the officer.
“He was like, ‘Yeah, well, you punched him. So you assaulted the officer,’” Cox said. “And I was like, ‘I punched him? What are you talking about?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, it’s all on video. We got all the evidence.’”
Cox’s injuries included a traumatic brain injury that’s improved but not fully resolved, Piucci said, as well as a sprained shoulder, back, neck and elbow that caused Cox to miss almost two months of work.
A spokesperson for the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement that there is no responsive material in its case management system with Clark’s name.
“Generally, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office does not confirm the existence or comment on pending criminal investigations unless and until charges are publicly filed and available for inspection,” said Brent Weisberg, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office.
“Our office continues to investigate and review matters involving members of law enforcement. It would be inappropriate and detrimental to those ongoing investigations to describe the scope of these probes or to release any additional information.”
The Portland Police Bureau declined to comment. The Portland Police Association, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, also declined comment.
Schmidt told OPB’s “Think Out Loud” on June 16 that his office was looking at multiple cases for possible criminal prosecution
“I can’t say specifically how many we’re looking at, but when people are interested in reporting and there’s evidence there, we review it and decide whether or not to go forward,” Schmidt said.
Last week, Schmidt announced a grand jury indicted Portland Police Bureau Officer Corey Budworth with fourth degree assault, a misdemeanor, for injuring someone during a protest on Aug. 18. The office also confirmed it had referred a separate case involving Det. Erik Kammerer’s actions at protests to the Oregon Department of Justice for possible criminal charges.
Piucci said his client was seriously hurt, and that charges should be brought against Clark, who has touted his own strength as a fighter before. In 2015, Clark shot and killed Christopher Healy when he moved towards him with a knife. During grand jury testimony, Clark testified about his extensive knowledge of martial arts.
“Currently, I am studying Jujitsu, Taekwondo, mixed martial arts, and I have continued my edge weapons training ever since I was 5,” Clark testified in April 2015.
Piucci said that expertise in hand-to-hand combat makes Clark’s “attack on Tyler Cox all that more scary.”
Regardless of criminal charges, Piucci said, he is working on a civil suit.
“There are several routes to justice for Mr. Cox,” Piucci said. “However, we are hopeful that the outcome of the criminal internal investigation will reach the right result.”