Image Credits: Mark Graves.
Corey Budworth is a police officer in Portland, Oregon who was indicted for fourth degree assault on June 15th. His crime, which occurred in August 2020, was captured on video and shared wildly on social media. Some things are pretty clear from the video, but the entire context and circumstances are not captured. Take a look:
WE ARE DEFUND THE POLICE⭐️#USpolice in #Portland brutality beat #protestors & press alike. Here u can see #police brutally beat a woman (with a #presspass) with batons and then officer #37 strikes her in the face when she is on ground🔥#PortlandProtest pic.twitter.com/zJcH6H6q28
— 𝓒𝓪𝓷𝓪𝓻𝔂 𝓘𝓷 𝓣𝓱𝓮 𝓜𝓲𝓷𝓭🦜 (@B1Fiirst) August 20, 2020
One thing to know is that the victim, photojournalist Teri Jacobs, was covering George Floyd protests at the time. She obviously was roughly pushed to the ground and then had a baton shoved in her face. The district attorney investigated and found that no legal justification existed for Officer Budworth, a member of the Portland Police Bureau’s (PPB) riot squad, to deploy force against Jacobs and that “the deployment of force was legally excessive under the circumstances.”
Budworth counters that Jacobs was interfering with an arrest, but Jacobs says she was merely attempting to help a friend who had fallen down amidst all the pushing and shoving.
The day after Budworth was indicted, the entire 50-man rapid response riot squad resigned in solidarity. They haven’t resigned from the force, just from the crowd control team. They argue that the prosecution is acting under undue political pressure.
So, as of now, the Portland police don’t have a crowd control unit.
The Oregonian reported that this is the first known example of a Portland police officer being charged for their treatment of a protester. Apparently, it’s not a precedent the police force is willing to accept.
In my opinion, if Jacobs was truly interfering in an arrest, she should have been arrested herself, but the district attorney must have concluded that the facts didn’t support that contention. This wasn’t a particularly egregious example of police brutality, but Budworth went after a woman and a member of the press, and that certainly colored how people viewed the assault.
Fourth-degree assault is the mildest charge that could have been brought under Oregon law. It’s normally considered a Class A misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a $6,250 fine. Nonetheless, the city’s police force does not want to face these kinds of charges and so they’ve thrown the biggest imaginable fit.
Personally, I think it’s a good thing to draw a line and say that the police can’t batter people with impunity. If they don’t want to do crowd control as a result then some other solution can be found. I think the fact the example case is fairly mild is also a good thing. It sends a strong message, and it’s important that this message prevail over the one the police are sending by quitting en masse.