Portland police’s Rapid Response Team was faced with tighter restrictions after a federal judge limited their use of crowd-control launchers until further training is given to officers.
U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez’s sanctions came as a result of a lawsuit by nonprofit “Don’t Shoot Portland,” a Black-led advocacy group for “social and racial justice.”
According to The Oregonian, the lawsuit sought to ban on-impact munitions, as well as to remove officers from protest duty if they violated the ban.
Hernandez’s sanctions included restrictions on firing FN303 riot guns and 40mm less-lethal launchers, as well as using pepper spray against protestors engaged in passive resistance, rather than banning the weapons outright. It also ordered the Portland Police Bureau to investigate allegations that officer Brent Taylor violated the court order by firing less-lethal munitions during a protest on June 30.
The city reported in January that Taylor had been removed from protest duty while the police internal affairs division investigated the allegations.
Attorney Juan Chavez who represented the nonprofit said of the trial, “We’re gratified that the Court has taken the City to task after months of unconstitutional conduct. We hope that the City sees this as an opportunity to move towards the kind of transformational change that Portlanders have been demanding for years. We also recognize that this ruling required a lot of brave Portlanders to step forward and hold their City to account in an open court of law…it took the voices of thousands in the streets to bring about a temporary end to this kind of wanton police violence. Black lives matter.”
The court order also ruled that further training be given to officers on protest control. The judge’s order stipulates that all Rapid Response Team grenadiers and supervisors receive 9 hours of new training during which the limitations on use of force are reviewed and prior incidents that violated the court order are also reviewed.
It also stipulated that grenadiers receive training every six months, and that the Police Bureau must distribute copies of the court order to officers, who must certify that they have read it.
The city will also give an additional three hours of training to all officers regarding the use of force at protests, including reviews of video footage from prior protests, to ensure that officers understand how to apply the use-of-force policy. The training will explicitly define “passive resistance,” “physical resistance” and “active aggression.”
In the meantime, the court order will ban police from using riot guns and less-lethal launchers until the city can certify that police have “demonstrated an understanding” of the court’s orders and that they can deal with passive resistance without unnecessary force.