Portland approves $100k settlement to protester pepper sprayed and arrested by police in 2020

Galen Ettlin (KGW)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — City of Portland commissioners have unanimously approved a $100,000 settlement for a man who said police attacked and unlawfully arrested him during a protest in 2020.

Dmitri Stoyanoff filed a federal lawsuit against Portland Police Bureau, saying police tried to take his “Vote Register Here” sign, pepper-sprayed him, and threw him to the ground.

Stoyanoff was in a public park, voicing support for a Black Lives Matter protest in September 2020.

His attorney, Franz Bruggemeier, presented to city council on Wednesday, saying PPB Sgt. Justin Damerville ordered officers to arrest anyone with a weapon.

Stoyanoff’s sign was made of a pole, with cardboard on the end. Bruggemeier said his client never used the sign violently and did not approach police. Video shows police grabbing the sign, as Stoyanoff refuses to let go. Police then pepper spray his face.

“For daring to passively refuse to allow police to do whatever illegal thing they wanted, he was attacked,” Bruggemeier said.

Bruggemeier said his client also did not participate in anti-police chants, but that incidents like this do fuel negative sentiments and distrust toward police.

“It’s not just a few bad apples, it’s a police and city culture that allows other bad apples to thrive and make other apples rotten,” Bruggemeier told council members.

Commissioner Mingus Mapps voiced support for the settlement, saying the council had taken important steps over the last year toward police reform to prevent similar incidents from happening again. He said he looked forward to the implementation of PPB body cameras, a civilian oversight board and revamped officer training.

“I look forward to continuing to see how the reform policies actually land in culture change,” commissioner Dan Ryan added.

“I think this is eminently reasonable and fair,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said of the settlement.

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who has long pushed for police reform, added an apology to Dmitri Stoyanoff on behalf of the city.

“What happened to you should never have happened to any community member,” Hardesty said. “This is a rebuilding phase for the Portland Police Bureau. I am excited about the opportunity for us to start recruiting high school folks from our community…so that as we are preparing for this new generation of first responders and community safety officers, they’re grounded in our community, and the community will hold them accountable for the outcomes they want.”

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that including this case, the city will have paid at least $335,000 this year to settle protest-related lawsuits involving police. This latest $100,000 settlement will go to Stoyanoff and attorney fees.

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