A common theme in most incidents of police brutality is that the administrative process within most cities and departments that is supposed to investigate officer misconduct is severely lacking. Disciplinary measures are often never taken and incidents remain under investigation for years without any real action against the offending officers. Whether these sanctions come in the form of either internal forms of discipline such as suspensions, or termination of employment, or criminal charges filed by a local prosecutor, little to nothing usually results from these measures. The police seem to almost always end up getting away unscathed, even when their actions are reported and investigated.

An incident in Portland Oregon shows how local procedures to look into police brutality often fall short.

Protester suffers brain hemorrhage from police flashbang

An investigation was undertaken to determine whether police should be held responsible for injuring protesters at an event on SW Naito Parkway. During the event, a protester was severely injured when an officer’s flashbang detonated near their bike helmet and caused a brain hemorrhage. The victim had to be treated at a local hospital with a procedure to drain the hemorrhage to prevent further injury.

After the injury and resulting lawsuit, the independent police review questionnaire that was sent to the victim also seemed to be insufficient. The victim’s lawyer believes that it seems more like an insurance form about an “aerial distraction device” than any real investigation into wrongdoing. They never issued responses to the questions due to their belief that the city is only concerned with their own liability rather than the health of the victim or possible misconduct from police. This procedure to gather data along with other conflicts between the victim’s legal team and the city have resulted in a lack of available information and communication about the incident. No officers have yet been disciplined due to the slow place of the review, and it seems unlikely that any criminal charges will be filed.

What should victims do in these situations?

Regardless of the results of an internal affairs investigation, criminal charges being brought against the officer, or any other penalties that are outside of a victim’s control, a civil lawsuit remains the only option to receive financial compensation for injuries. These other administrative actions are only meant to punish the officer rather than repay someone who was hurt by their actions. It is also difficult to tell if an internal affairs department or local prosecutor will take any given incident of police brutality seriously.

A civil lawsuit is also the most reliable way to take action against a police officer, as it has been demonstrated that processes which are supposed to regulate police conduct are broken in many cities. In many cases, police departments or cities make generic statements about officers being placed on administrative leave and not much else is disclosed.

A tenacious lawyer can do their best to navigate any relevant procedures for filing a case regarding police brutality and uncover all relevant information in a reasonable period of time. This will result in the best possible outcome for victims, as it is much more likely to prevail in a civil courtroom than to rely on an officer’s superiors to take action.

Speak to a police brutality attorney in Oregon

If you have been injured by the police during a protest or at any other time, there is legal help available. An attorney in Portland or other parts of Oregon can speak to you and file a lawsuit on your behalf.