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Video, witness, reveal more about Taser incident

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 13th, 2008 at 10:40 am

"He was definitely making a racket and making it loud intentionally... he was trying to get people's attention."
-- John Henry Dale, a witness to the Phil Sano Tasing incident

On Tuesday night, 31 year-old John Henry Dale was waiting for a bus at SE 7th and Morrison when he heard screaming and the buzzing of Tasers.

Looking north, he noticed a bike in the road and two police officers surrounding Phil Sano. Once Dale realized what was going on, he pulled out his cell phone and started recording.

Dale captured the incident just after the Tasing had stopped.

Dale's video is below. You can't see much, but the screams of Phil Sano cut sharply through the footage.

The only words I could make out were,

"You're knee is in my f***ing neck and that's wrong!... This is ridiculous... You're jackasses... I dropped to my knees and begged, I begged and then you both f***ing shot me... it's terrible... this is f***ing ridiculous."

Dale says it was clear that Sano made his protestations loud on purpose. "He was definitely making a racket and making it loud intentionally... he was trying to get people's attention," recalled Dale. He added, "Once he had gotten pulled down, if he wanted to end it as quickly as possible, he would have made less of a fuss."

But Dale also feels that it was a good thing Sano screamed so loudly, "because it's pretty messed that the cops were using Tasers." Dales feels that Tasers should not be used for that kind of interaction. "No matter how much noise he's making, this is just messed up."

Here is Dale's footage:

[If anyone can make out more of what Sano said (a professional linguist perhaps?), please feel free to share in the comments.]

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Comments
  • Captain Kirk June 13, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Sweet Jesus, this just gets more interesting. Dear Lord, please call me up for jury duty on this one!

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  • tonyt June 13, 2008 at 10:52 am

    If I had just gotten inappropriately tased, I think I\'d want passersby to hear what I had to say, and as happened here, hopefully attract the attention of someone with a recording device.

    If nothing else, it might make the cops wary of lying about what I said for fear that witnesses would contradict them.

    I imagine that the cops have already filed their reports as to what was said. It would be interesting to see if their written versions and this recording match up.

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  • toddistic June 13, 2008 at 10:55 am

    he\'s on the other side of the street! if some cop yelled at me from across the street i\'d have no idea he was talking to me.

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  • DJ Hurricane June 13, 2008 at 11:00 am

    They recognized him from previous incidents, knew he had made the PPB look bad (rightfully so) in the past, and wanted a little revenge. They got it. And they\'ll get away with it.

    On a related note, I\'m adding a new Pedalpalooza ride today: The PPB Body Count Ride. It will visit all the sites where the PPB has killed people over the years. Bring extra water, it\'ll be a long one...

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  • Russ June 13, 2008 at 11:03 am

    I know they made \"Don\'t tase me bro!\" tee shirts, and Andrew Meyer was a pussy unlike Phil. I think therefore Phil deserves a tee shirt too. The proceeds might cover any legal or alcohol expenses he\'ll incur from getting beat down by these guys.

    How about: \"I\'m being assaulted by two JACKASSES!\"

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  • toddistic June 13, 2008 at 11:17 am

    I definately would support Phil through a t-shirt/spoke card fundraiser. Hopefully something can get setup with the proceeds going to his legal fund.

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  • Spencer June 13, 2008 at 11:27 am

    It is interesting to note how he was still able to yell with a cops knee in his throat. I don\'t think I could have had enough of an air way to yell as loudly.

    Also, interesting was how quiet the cops were relative to phil. They don\'t sound supper pissed and irrational.

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  • Hillsons June 13, 2008 at 11:35 am

    The video is so long that it\'s very apparent that a lot left out of the original witness reports. This is very interesting to watch play out.

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  • Diogo June 13, 2008 at 11:38 am

    You know, I find it strange and sad that there is this underlining presumption in people´s head that you should´t make a fuss out of it. \"No matter how much noise he was making\" (as if making noise and trying to get attention was wrong in this case).

    This mentality for me is analogous to the old one that used to condemn women who came forward when they were sexually abused ou harassed - like \"oh, you are making too much of a biG deal out of it\".

    I think that the moment a cop (or anyone for that matter) unjustifiably attacks someone - resisting and fighting back is the RIGHT thing to do, even though it is the most dangerous one.

    I really don´t understand this country - the Constitution seems to allow people to carry guns as a protection from government abuse, but physically fighting authority or \"making a fuss\" out of it - that´s just not cool, apparently.

    WEIRD!!!!

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  • toddistic June 13, 2008 at 11:43 am

    \"Also, interesting was how quiet the cops were relative to phil. They don\'t sound supper pissed and irrational.\"

    That\'s because they weren\'t just yanked off their bike, thrown on the ground, and tazed. Get some perspective.

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  • Diogo June 13, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Spencer,

    Several armed guys can afford being quiet to carry on their abuse.

    Its pretty clear for me that your prejudice: that you shouldn´t protest or resist when your being attacked by authorities.

    The times change, but big men on uniform continue to have such an appeal on people...

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  • Spencer June 13, 2008 at 11:57 am

    The point I was making was that if phil was being beaten and his throat crushed, he could not be yelling very easily. The main bias in this thread is \"against the man\". I\'m just being a contrarian and pointing out the inconsistencies. If this make me biased or un-concerned about women who are assaulted, etc. so be it.

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  • N.I.K. June 13, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    The point I was making was that if phil was being beaten and his throat crushed, he could not be yelling very easily.

    Where are you getting this throat crushing business? Being pinned to the ground by means of a knee in the back of your *neck* won\'t impair one\'s ability to speak or breathe. Vertebrae get in the way.

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  • n8m June 13, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    This is great that someone was there with a camera. Unfortunately we need cameras on the PPB at all times to monitor them. They are unprofessional. It is time for them to update their policies and practices with the times.

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  • BrianM June 13, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    When I read yesterday that there was video of this incident, I hoped it would show the whole incident. I guess that was optimistic.

    Can\'t watch this until I get to my laptop but by description... No, I\'ll wait until I see the video before commenting.

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  • Robert Dobbs June 13, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    I\'m just being a contrarian

    Awww... Spencer just wants some attention guys.

    GROUP HUG!

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  • leonard maltin June 13, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    I give this movie 3 gears out of 5. I found it very arresting, it got me really charged up.

    so much to see: a lot of flashing lights on police cars and a well lit street. though, the camera man should use a dolly next time to get a steadier shot. I know rev phil\'s bike was available, that would have done in a pinch.

    \"stood apart from him in a defensive position...\" - I think the police might interpret that to mean that you are ready to fight. and it worked! this fight scene was electrifying, the best of the year.

    swearing at the police and yelling really loud (it\'s not tarantino, but pretty good monologue nonetheless given that it was improv)- if you do that don\'t expect the police to give you hand up like you just fell down on the basketball court.

    three letters: AFV! maybe the prize money will pay his legal costs.

    a suggestion for the trailer: \"wait. stop. hammer time!\"

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  • MichaelK June 13, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    The cops here don\'t seem to be using Tasers to avoid using deadly force on someone who poses an immediate physical threat; they\'re using Tasers as a lazy means of forcing compliance to their will.

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  • matchu June 13, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Goodness! This video helps add perspective to the situation. It is no wonder that Sano was unsure of who had ordered him to stop or if their order was even directed at him. The road is huge!

    People should protest unjust use of force and while it is efficient to do anything possible to please officers, the police had invalidated their right of authority and any due respect they might expect by using such excessive force. This pertains only to the situation at hand of course. I wish Sano the best of luck and that the responsible officers accept that there are consequences for bad decisions on their own part as well as of others.

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  • Whiney McWhinerson June 13, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    > Awww... Spencer just wants some attention guys.

    > GROUP HUG!

    Awww. Robert Dobbs is being condescending and annoying.

    GROUP HUG!

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  • Dag June 13, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    I agree with n8m: officers of the law should be monitored with video and audio recordings at all times.

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  • Carrie June 13, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Rev. Phil sounds like a pro. Some people live for this $h^t.

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  • DJ Hurricane June 13, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    And the cops sound like amateurs. Some people live for this $h^t.

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  • Jake F June 13, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    The \"cops should be videoed\" thing jogged my memory...I did some LEO-type stuff up in Washington and when the lights were turned on in the cruiser, the digital video recorder also came on. It recorded what was directly in front of the car and audio (it\'s how they get all the footage for those dumb \"extreme video\") shows. Does anyone know if the PPB cars are set up the same way? It would be awfully interesting if even just audio had been recorded. Of course it would be interesting if the recording had been turned off...

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  • steve June 13, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Who is up for a bike riding protest outside these officers homes?

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  • Dan June 13, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    you KNOW the cops tasered him because he\'s Phil and they don\'t like Phil. Granted the Rev tends to attract/create a certain amount of drama around himself, but there\'s no way the cops had any reasonable justification to actually taser him (as if he was some kind of threat.) They just don\'t like him.

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  • Mike June 13, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    I\'ll be in town until Monday evening. If it\'s before then, I\'m in.

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  • KT June 13, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Matchu #19, that road\'s not huge.

    It\'s one lane in each direction, with bike lanes.

    Huge would be something like Hwy 99W. 2 lanes each direction with a center turn lane, and bike lanes both sides.

    Although you are correct, it does add perspective: the police cars on the other side of the road have their lights on and flashing red and blue.

    I can\'t tell from the video if the cops are dressed like cops, and I didn\'t listen to the audio (I\'m at work).

    Regardless of all that, though, it sounds to me like the police over-reacted to Phil\'s presence and actions.

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  • Dave June 13, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    \"you KNOW the cops tasered him because he\'s Phil and they don\'t like Phil.\"

    Right. Even though Phil says he couldn\'t see well enough to tell they were cops, the cops immediately recognized him on his bike and thought \"Hey! Lets mercilessly assault a notorious attention hound in front of these witnesses!\" Definitely the most likely explanation.

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  • DJ Hurricane June 13, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    KT, the road is pretty wide, isn\'t it? It\'s one lane in each direction with bike lanes on each side, but it also has a center turn lane and a parallel parking \"lane\" on either side, right? So that\'s the equivalent of 5 full and two bike lanes wide?

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  • SkidMark June 13, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    I agree with Dan. Rev. Phil is very visible and recognizable. He has also fought the law and won on several occasions, the last time being an incedent that happened almost exactly a year ago. I get the impression that cop recognized him, and when he didn\'t comply immediately, he decided to fuck him up, and hope he gets away with it.

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  • SkidMark June 13, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    I hope Dave isn\'t right because if he is, that means that the Police would have treated any of us that way in that situation. So if someone tells you to stop and doesn\'t identify themselves as a cop and they are a cops, expect to get beat down and have a taser used on you, for not having a light on your bicycle.

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  • TJ June 13, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    \"The general idea behind Tasers is that while painful (I can attest to that personally) they actually reduce injuries to all parties involved, as they can take the place of protracted physical struggles, which might involve tackling or punching or strikes with a metal baton, or the danger of a suspect grabbing one of an officer’s weapons while fighting in close quarters with an officer.\" -that statement from popo\'s column is so text book.

    When talking about police I also turn to the \"serve and protect\" phrase. Who are they serving and who are they protecting?

    If an individual is not in immediate danger to anyone and they have not previously used deadly force or the threat of then the police should not be able to use a taser.

    It is used to often as punishment. In this case, it seems for not being quiet (not against the law). Cruel and unusual punishment.

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  • All the world's a stage June 13, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Rev Phil in trouble with the law? I can\'t believe how much you people buy this crap! This guy is an amateur antagonist looking to break into the professional world. And there just happened to be a witness there that doesn\'t know him? I smell a fat lawsuit...

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  • Caroline June 13, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    I love youTube. Rev Phil, need a nurse again?

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  • Caroline June 13, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    I thought it might be a good one, next time a cop pulls a taser on you, to say \"Wait! I have a pacemaker!\" They can\'t immediately prove you don\'t (short of a quick physical exam)... and you may escape with just a brutal beating instead!

    (Granted, there is varying evidence on the effects of taser shocks on pacing. If a study was ever done.)

    PS - anyone heard of \"excited delirium?\" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excited_delirium

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  • hanmade June 13, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    The bottom line is we are paying these cops what, $25 an hour (or more) to fight bad guys, and they choose to taser a guy who won\'t stop fot them because he doesn\'t have a light on his bicycle? Something is seriously wrong here.

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  • Ken Convery June 13, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Spencer:
    \"...still able to yell with a cops knee in his throat. I don\'t think I could have had enough of an air way to yell as loudly.\"
    and
    \"...being beaten and his throat crushed, he could not be yelling very easily...\"

    I think you are misunderstanding. The maneuver cops use is to put the suspect on their stomach and one officer puts his knee on the back of their neck. Another cuffs him. The suspect usually ends up with his head to one side. Painful and uncomfortable but I\'m sure you could yell.

    Also the fact that the cops seemed to be talking calmly is not really important. The problem isn\'t that the cops are hoolagins fireing their six shooters in the air. The problem is that we have come to a point where this kind of action seems like the best, safest course of action to them. In their mind they are professionals taking the appropriate steps for greater good.

    I personally think yelling someone down and hoping they stop is more than enough effort. Especially since they were busy on the other side of the street. That is unless there is some news we haven\'t heard yet. I can\'t think of any common bicycle infraction that would justify tackling. All the other charges stem from the fact he was tackled. If Rev Phil was riding through town tossing M80s at people on the sidewalk I would say tackling would be justified.

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  • Marc June 13, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    what if phil were a hearing impaired person and couldn\'t hear the cop? ppd gets to beat the crap out of handicapped people now?

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  • Caroline June 13, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    http://www.taser.com

    Also, thought I\'d share the music at Taser International. Enjoy!

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  • MichaelK June 14, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Well, they may want to re-think their Taser policy, Taser has been handed its first defeat:
    http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/06/like-them-or-de.html

    And it\'s not like people aren\'t catching on that Tasers are abused:
    http://blog.wired.com/defense/2007/04/video_stun_gun_.html

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  • revphil June 14, 2008 at 11:19 am

    a point of clarification:

    \"I dropped to my knees and begged, I begged and then you both f***ing shot me\"

    was actually:

    \"I dropped to my knees and then, and then, you both f***ing tasered me

    i dropped to my knees and obeyed your f**ing words and then you both f***ing shot me\"
    ---
    It still makes me shudder.

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  • velo June 14, 2008 at 11:38 am

    We need to hold the police accountable on this one. This is clearly a disproportionate use of force given the threat posed to public safety. Just because a TASER is less lethal doesn\'t mean the police should be allowed to use it without imminent threat of serious violence or loss of life.

    Portland Police: you are here to serve and protect us. Abuse of Portland\'s residents is not acceptable behavior and we will do our level best to hold you to account.

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  • Snacky June 14, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    It doesn\'t feel right for lots of force to be used for a bicycle offense.

    BUT:

    Several facts here don\'t make Phil look very good. Taking just what we 100% know, and aren\'t allegations.

    * He was riding past an obvious traffic stop -- at least two police cars w/ lights. Very obvious that there are police around.

    * He was riding at night w/out a light and w/ no hands on the handlebars. Dude, are you a prof. biker or not? You give us a bad name.

    * Because he\'s riding like that, it\'s a good expectation (he should have had) that one would attract police attention.

    * The area is NOT terribly dark as Phil said. The video shows the sidewalk to be esp. very well-lit. It should have been obvious they were police.

    My take: Phil should have just been polite, \"Yes sir\", \"No sir\", and taken his traffic ticket like a man.

    IMO, the previous comments about the police being hooligans are conclusory, and only reduce the credibility of that point of view.

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  • Ken June 15, 2008 at 12:19 am

    I was pissed that something like this could happen to someone just riding down the street, but this video isn\'t going to help Rev. Phil.

    The street was lit up like center field of PGE park. So much for the dark shadowy forms that he claims he saw and wasn\'t sure who was talking to him. Add on the parked police cars that are seen at the end of the video that have their blue and red lights blazing and that pretty much sinks the \'I had no idea who I was dealing with\' boat.

    I was really upset when I first read this story and I am still not happy, but I must say I feel a little guilty for automatically assuming the police were completely at fault and this video has cast a different light on the matter. If you see flashing lights across the street and your on a well lit road and the police tell you to stop you are required to stop. If you try to run it isn\'t going to end up well for anyone.

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  • SkidMark June 15, 2008 at 10:14 am

    I talked to Phil yesterday, the cop was over his shoulder, and he was zipping up his sweatshirt, so he couldn\'t get to his brake. So he didn\'t have a clear view of the cop because he was essentially behind him, and he did not have access to his brake because he was zipping up his jacket. For that he gets tackled and tased. It\'s FxCKING BULLSH!T.

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  • SkidMark June 15, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Also I have seen the size of these two thugs that jacked him. They should not need a taser to subdue Rev. Phil.

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  • wsbob June 15, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Snacky #44, Ken #45, on editor Maus\'s other thread: man-on-a-bike-is-tackled-then-tasered-by-portland-police

    ...Sano doesn\'t say it was \"...terribly dark...\". Below are his words from a quote on that thread:

    “It was pretty dark and they were wearing all black without any sort of shiny badge…. Phil Sano

    I can\'t seem to locate it, but I think I read an excerpt from the police report where the cops said the area was \"well lit\". I suppose people might find reason to quibble about the relative darkness of the location, but it\'s probably wise not to rely too much on others choice of words to describe the illumination there. I\'d say, go there personally to check it out.

    There\'s all kind of other factors too, such as where Sano was standing relative to the nearest street light, and what the illumination was in that particular spot, if the officer\'s body was blocking the light as he approached Sano, and so forth. Also, judging illumination based on video is not necessarily accurate, because video technology has the ability to enhance low light levels making light conditions seem brighter on the monitor than they are in reality at the actual scene, to the human eye.

    About some of the other things you mention...we\'ll just have to wait and see how things shake out if this goes to court.

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  • Justa June 15, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    there might be people reading this who are of the opinion that phil\'s just doing this for notoriety or kicks, but i think it\'s worth mentioning that i personally haven\'t heard a peep out of him regarding this incident, in spite of having conversed more than a few times since then.

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  • Russ June 15, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    I still like my \"I\'m being assaulted by two JACKASSES!\" tee shirt idea, but I think I can go one better for bicycle related consumer products:

    How about a police brutality avoidance kit? It would include a helmet (if only for the Vancouver version), front and back light, easy to install brakes for your fixie, heavy neoprene body suit to help block taser prongs/electrical currents, and directions for specifically educating bicyclists on what prone position to immediately get down on the ground in when addressed by an officer of the law.

    Many posters on these threads have said that what the real problem is, is that citizens need to be educated about how to interact with police officers in order to avoid being maimed or killed by them. I think this product package could be a great step in the right direction.

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  • boston_cyclist June 16, 2008 at 12:11 am

    tasers should be reserved for deadly force situations
    like when you\'re getting shot at.

    tomorrow I\'m calling Portland District Attorney
    and I\'m rejoining the ACLU.

    i heard there is a police state coming

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  • Snacky June 16, 2008 at 8:02 am

    \"Also I have seen the size of these two thugs that jacked him. They should not need a taser to subdue Rev. Phil.\"

    Or, alternately:

    Cops shouldn\'t have to need to (1) \"subdue\" anyone, and (2) they shouldn\'t have to expose themselves to the possibility of bodily harm in the process.

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  • Paul Cone June 16, 2008 at 10:31 am

    I rode near the pace police car for much of the Pedalpalooza kickoff ride on Thursday. In the back window were two devices pointing aft -- I\'m pretty certain one was a radar gun, the other a camera. Yes I do wonder if there was a camera rolling from inside the police car when Phil was being \"subdued\".

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  • Sarah O June 16, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Five years ago I was tackled and arrested during a Critical Mass bike ride. I had stopped to shout \"Why are you doing this?\" in the direction of police right after I witnessed an officer on a motorcycle physically ram into a bicyclist on the Burnside Bridge. I did not threaten, approach the officers, stop or impede traffic (vehicular or otherwise - I was in a bike lane), or swear. I got on my bike and continued riding for about 15 feet past the officers before I was tackled, pulled off my bike and arrested.

    The reason I was arrested, in my mind, was shouting at the officers and drawing attention to myself. The reason on the form they filed was \"Not having lights on my bicycle.\" Keep in mind - there was a rear light on my bike, covered by a sweatshirt, but it was 6:30 in the afternoon on a sunny June day.

    I did not hear any communication by the police for me to stop. An officer just ran over and plucked me off my bike. On the form I got another citation for \"failure to stop for an officer.\" Just like Phil. Yet I heard nothing from them.

    To me, the \"not having lights\" excuse is an easy one to use when a policeman wants to pull you over and grab you. In my case nothing could be proven either way, since they did not take my bike into custody but handed it off to a group of strangers participating in the ride (it was returned to me later via the PDX bike community grapevine). I was not severely injured and learned a lesson about mouthing off to people with the power to take away your personal freedom.

    I fought everything in court and won. Ironically I ran into Phil at the courthouse during my arraignment. Hi, Phil!

    This is ridiculous. We need to stay loudly opposed to police brutality tactics, since they are not an anomaly, but often the first go-to for many (NOT all!) cops here in town. The use of Tasers is especially scary since they can and do cause heart failure and death. I was sick to hear of this happening to Phil, not just because of the many similarities between this and my own experience, but because we\'ve gone through five years of anger and calling for changes and it\'s still happening. Don\'t stop now.

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  • bjorn June 20, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    According to the Mercury the DA has decided not to press charges against Phil. Sounds to me like they are hoping that it will all go away. I for one hope it doesn\'t, seldom do we have an impartial witness to this kind of police misconduct.

    http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/Content?oid=802239&category=22101

    Bjorn

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  • Cam June 20, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    I witnessed this event - about 45 seconds of it (the amount of time it took me to stop behind one police car, evaluate, proceed past, then wait for the traffic light) up from just after the officers \"removed\" the cyclist from his bicycle until the tazing began. What happened after the tazing began, I don\'t know.

    What I saw was a man who was undeniably hostile and had taken a physically confrontational posture toward the officers. I could hear them telling him to be quiet and to calm down; and I could hear him yelling that he wouldn\'t calm down. I won\'t say he was taking swings at them directly, but he was swinging his arms around (kinda flailing his whole body, really), presumably to keep them at a distance. I heard them warn him four separate times that if he didn\'t calm down they\'d taze him. I saw the little red lazer light beam on his torso. I heard them say that they didn\'t want to taze him.

    He didn\'t calm down; they tazed him. That\'s when I left.

    I\'m not interested in joining the debate about what bias might exist between the Portland Police and Portland\'s cycling community. I\'ve watched individuals in both go out of their way to be real jerks; and I\'ve witnessed each go out of their way to be real decent.

    But there\'s an awful lot of speculation and presumption about this incident from people who weren\'t there.

    I\'m certainly not justifying nor defending any party\'s actions during this event. Tell ya what, though: if an officer tells me \"calm down or I\'ll taze you,\" I\'m not going to call his or her bluff.

    Best,

    Cameron

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  • [...] was waiting for a bus at SE 7th and Morrison when he heard screaming and the buzzing of Tasers. original article addthis_url = [...]

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  • kemmer June 26, 2008 at 12:22 am

    What a couple of school yard bullies. Tackling someone off their bike for not having a headlight seems just a tad excessive. The tazer business is just plain ridiculous.

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