Members of a specialized Portland, Oregon, police unit that deals with crowd control have resigned from the assignment en masse a day after a fellow officer was indicted on an assault charge stemming from alleged illegal use of force during a protest past year.
Budworth, accused of using unnecessary force against photojournalist and provocateur, Teri Jacobs, during a declared riot on August 18, had initially been cleared after an internal investigation by the police department.
The Portland Police Bureau placed Budworth on administrative leave Tuesday, officials said.
In a Thursday morning press release, PPB explained that the 50 members who comprised the RRT have not left their jobs at the police bureau.
"If you put a human being through what they were put through, that takes a toll", Davis said.
"As I understand the situation, I think that really this is the culmination of a very long process", said Davis.
Members of the Portland Police Bureau's Rapid Response Team resigned en masse from their voluntary positions on Wednesday in response to a fellow "riot squad" officer being criminally indicted for an action he took during a violent uprising in the city last August.
Davis, who is now serving as PPB's acting chief while PPB Chief Chuck Lovell attends training out-of-state, said officers did mention Budworth's criminal charges in their resignation letter.
Davis said the bureau, including the members of the Rapid Response Team, has been under a "tremendous amount of stress" due to the coronavirus pandemic and in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, during which he said Portland saw over 150 nights of "sustained civil unrest".
Schmidt released a statement, which said, "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. We'll use the resources that we have". "We can not expect the community to trust law enforcement if we hold ourselves to a lower standard". "The failure of our city's elected leaders to step in is an indictment of their role in this mess and their complicity in the violence and trauma committed" by the Portland Police Bureau. According to the Oregonian, RRT members told PPB leadership that their decision to resign was based on the perceived lack of support from City Hall and the Multnomah County District Attorney's office over the course of the past year. The indictment marks the first time a Portland police officer has faced prosecution for striking or firing at someone during a protest, according to the Oregonian.
The officers' union has denounced the indictment, describing it as a "politically driven charging decision" against an officer who "worked to restore order during a chaotic night of burning and destruction in Portland".
PPA has always been critical of Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt's handling of racial justice protests, accusing him of acting too lenient towards protesters who damage property, start fires, or taunt police.
But lawyers for Teri Jacobs, the independent photojournalist who was named as the victim in the indictment against Budworth, said the resignations from the team demonstrate "the contempt its members feel for even the possibility that one of their colleagues is held accountable for his actions". The officer is accused of striking her in a criminal manner with a baton. Erik Kammerer, is also now under review by the Oregon Department of Justice for his use of force during a protest.
The city's police officers used force more than 6,000 times over a six-month period from May 2020 to November 2020, according to lawyers with the Department of Justice, which reviewed officers' actions as part of a previous settlement agreement. Schmidt told OPB Wednesday that his office is still investigating several other cases involving officer use of force during protests.