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Phil Sano found not guilty in bike light taser trial

Posted by on February 11th, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Phil Sano
(Photo © J. Maus)

The word is in — Phil Sano was found not guilty of resisting arrest on the night of June 10, 2008.

I got a voicemail from Phil at 2:18 saying “I’m free!” and that Phil plans to celebrate Mini Bike Winter with extra style this weekend.

We’ll keep you posted on Phil’s further exploits, and his planned civil suit.

For background on the incident and the trial:

Story continues below

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  • A-dub February 11, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    This is great for Phil, but what are the long-term benefits/repercussions of this verdict? Are there any?

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  • velo February 11, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Hell yes! Now I want to see him win a civil suit against the PPB. We need to reign in irresponsible policing behavior. It’s good to see a jury return a verdict like this.

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  • Kt February 11, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Any other details about the verdict?

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  • peejay February 11, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Go, Phil! Go civil suit! After reading the liveblogging of the first two days of the trial, it seems to me that a suit would be an easy win for Phil, and give him a unique voice in how to fix the PPB. If he works with some of the other police watchdog groups on the case, it could be about much more than money; it could be about change.

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  • toddistic February 11, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Booya!

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  • Mr DeJerk February 11, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Hell YEAH!

    Viva Phil! And to hell with PPB!

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  • Jeff P February 11, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Congrats.

    Won’t change a thing – not that a single court case would/could; guessing a follow-up civil wouldn’t do it either.

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  • Duncan Watson February 11, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    This does add to the pile of Taser abuse stories. Hopefully we can get Taser’s treated with more respect. There is no reason Phil should have been Tasered, especially twice at once.

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  • SkidMark February 11, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    I guess sometimes justice prevails.

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  • Joe the Taxpayer February 11, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Well, regardless of this outcome, I’m leery of his civil trial. If Mr. Sano achieves a large settlement or a jury awards him a large sum, who will pay for it? The same people that pay for the police. Us. Citizen taxpayers. A large chunk of change may indeed help Mr. Sano feel better, but regardless of the officers’ behavior, these reports indicate Mr. Sano suffered no lasting physical or emotional harm.

    And if he somehow gets a large payment out of his civil suit, it will further hurt our already weak financial infrastructure. State sector and private sector jobs are being lost at an enormous rate, a rate not seen in Portland since the early ’80s. I sincerely hope Mr. Sano considers the other bike-riding, taser-fearing taxpayers in making his civil demands.

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  • Joe the Taxpayer February 11, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    I should clarify – by “no lasting emotional harm” I mean that he’s not exactly suffering PTSD or Gulf War Syndrome or anything. I have no doubt that his experience was traumatic, but not on the level of what people often mean when they say “emotional harm.”

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  • Zaphod February 11, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    This is great news! Congratulations Phil

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  • Zac February 11, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    HELL YES

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  • mark ginsberg February 11, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    I am glad Rev. Phil was found not guilty. The facts supported that outcome and the jury after hearing all the facts agreed. I think the real loser in this is PPB Officer Ron Hoesly. He was the second officer at the scene. From what I have read, he was not the initial officer who Tazered Phil. But of course once his “partner” has started this mess, Officer Hoesly is forced to support his work-mate. Officer Hoesly has been fair to cyclists in the past and worked with the bicycling community and it saddens me to see him involved in this. My personally hope is that he comes out of this at least as supportive of cyclists as when this started. If any of you have ever seen a friend start a fight, sadly, while you might not agree with your friend, if you need to pick sides, you stick with your friend, or in this case, the fellow police officer.

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  • joe adamski February 11, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    If you have been part of the bike culture here in Portland for more than a couple years, you have, or know someone who has suffered an indignity or worse at the hands of the Portland Police. Things have improved markedly in recent times, which makes Phils case seem so much like a return to the ‘bad old days’.

    At the end of the day, the City will bear the results of this and other cases. The officer(s) involved may have some penance to do, though probably not. PPB has such a difficult time recruiting adequate candidates,that it does not serve their best interests to punish or even dismiss the cops that fail to ‘meet standards”.

    I am a little long in the tooth to consider this,but has anyone considered that change is best accomplished from within?

    Among BP readerhip is a great number of accomplished and educated folks. Especially in light of economic uncertainty, would suggesting that some of our ranks apply and become the next generation of Portland Police?

    With enough trained and motivated cops to staff a force of this size, it would be easier to nudge the lesser candidates to the side.

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  • joe February 11, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    congrats!

    one of the odd parts of this case is the revelation from the officers themselves that upwards of 550 pounds of law enforcement officers(even with all their hand to hand combat and weight training and weaponry) could not subdue phil?

    in my experience, phil ain’t that tough. what does this say about our ppb? if they are that weak, no wonder they get their weapons out so frequently. be careful out there.

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  • Seager February 11, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    While I think that the first officer should face repercussions, all a civil suit would do it further burden an already straining city budget.

    Yea, it’d be a great blow for cyclists, but it would also hurt relations between cyclists and non-cyclist because the financial impact will negatively influence many, many people.

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  • John Russell February 11, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    As I hoped. Thanks for your reporting on this!

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  • michael downes February 11, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Excellent coverage. Well done Elly…..and a result for Phil.

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  • Anonymous February 11, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Congrats to Phil and his lawyer! Now if we can just ban tasers all together!!!

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  • Paul Tay February 11, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Gooooooooooooooooooooooooo, Phil! FREE da PHIL! FREE da PHIL! FREE da PHIL!

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  • PoPo February 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    I have been in a few fights on the job.

    One of the major concerns is always controlling the hands and arms of a suspect, because they can grab for weapons or be weapons themselves.

    My experience has been that if someone really does not want to be arrested, two officers are often not enough to quickly control and cuff hands.

    You can try it by playing “resist arrest” with your friends. One person clenches their arms and fists in front of their body, then have two people try to pry his/her hands behind his/her back. The resister should also squirm around, turn his/her torso back and forth and generally make it hard to be controlled.

    Anyway, it isn’t so surprising to me that they had trouble “subduing” Phil, but I’ve also had personal experience (not subduing Phil, just subduing!)

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  • Coyote February 11, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Elly TY for your excruciating diligence in reporting this trial. I am kind of a law order sorta person, it is my nature, but tasering someone for a lighting issue is excessive IMO.

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  • Krampus February 11, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Justice has been served and everyone knows it, even the cops.

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  • Donna February 11, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    It appears we are not the only city with taser problems.

    http://stoptasers.org/

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  • 3-speeder February 11, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    PoPo – Thank you for responding to this post.

    I asked you a question in a long ago post published around the time of the original incident this trial is about. Perhaps you answered then but I never saw your response if you did answer. So I will ask again.

    In a situation such as this where a bicycle rider’s only menace is riding without a light at dusk, if that bicycle rider fails to stop at a verbal command, does PPB policy allow that the next response by the officer should involve running up to the rider and grabbing the bike and/or rider to bring him/her to a stop?

    There must be limits as to what an officer may do in such a situation. For example, I can hardly believe policy would permit the officer to draw a weapon and fire at the rider. Plainly, there are limits.

    According to PPB policy, what would an officers permissable options be in this type of situation? Does PPB policy dictate some other action to be more appropriate before choosing to act in a way that would create direct officer-to-bike-rider contact?

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  • wsbob February 11, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Smith was wrong and unprofessional to not vocally identify himself as a police officer. That opened the door for someone to divert his efforts to rightfully stop and confront them about the manner in which they were using a public road. In my view as an ordinary citizen, that’s sloppy police work.

    The tasing: based on elly blues notes recounting their comments, the officers seemed to think tasing and multiple tasing was justified because he didn’t calm down and that after he was hit the first time, he failed to be compliant. I think it was Smith that said he smelled alcohol on Sano’s breath. That and Sano’s non-compliant behavior led the two officers to conclude that he might be BUI. Is that why the officers thought the tasing was justified?

    During the time Sano was standing on the sidewalk after he’d been removed from the bike and the time the officers started tasing him, I wonder what questions they were asking Sano or further orders they might have given him(‘turn around, put your hands behind your back’…that sort of thing), and whether at that time, they told him he was under arrest. Elly’s notes say ‘no’, they didn’t tell him he was under arrest at that time.

    If Sano’s behavior before them led them to conclude that he was either drunk, under the influence of drugs, or mentally deranged, posing a threat to society, was this their justification for proceeding to restrain him with the aid of the taser? How might the situation have been different if the cops hadn’t had the taser at their disposal? Draw your own conclusions.

    Under the circumstances, I think it would have been wrong for Sano to be convicted of the charges. The police here were unprofessional and their methodology sucked. Rosie Sizer and all their police buddies should let them know how badly they performed.

    At the same time, I’ve thought for a long while, and still do, that Sano knew exactly that the guy dressed in black approaching him from across the street was a cop. Sano knew exactly who they were, what they were up to, and gamed those fool cops. Set a neat little trap for them and they walked right into it. Officer stands there preaching the law to a pretty girl he’s stopped for noncompliance with the law, and then has to back it up when he sees the un-illuminated Sano slowly riding by across the street. Showing off. Officer should have just finished business with the girl and let Sano ride on by.

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  • robert February 11, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Will he still refuse to use lights at night?

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  • peejay February 11, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    robert:

    Will you still refuse to get the facts straight?

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  • Bjorn February 11, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    #10 I can think of one way in which Phil has been permanently damaged, Criminal Defense lawyers aren’t free and he has had this nonsense hanging over him for months. I wonder if the charges had stayed dropped if there would be talk of a Civil Suit.

    No such suit had been filed before the charges were reinstated, but now Phil has monetary damages beyond the initial pain and suffering. I think it would be nice if any settlement involved paying all phil’s legal bills, clarifying the policy for how an officer on foot should stop a cyclist (including banning foot patrol officers from tackling cyclists for equipment violations), and agreeing to stop issuing tasers to Portland Police Officers. It may end up costing more than that, but it isn’t Phil’s fault, he isn’t the one who violated the PPB’s taser policy.

    That said in my experience Phil isn’t really motivated by money, there are probably bigger issues here for him. Settlements aren’t always just monetary.

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  • robert February 11, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    peejay,

    What are the facts? I was not being insincere. I thought that is what started all of this mess.

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  • dave February 11, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    First OJ and now this!? What the $^$#^%

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  • peejay February 11, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    robert:

    If your worldview is that everyone caught without a light is a committed anti-light lawbreaker, then you’re right. If, however, you read the facts, you would know that RevPhil had a light, but just had his bracket stolen, so he couldn’t use it. It was just turning dusk, so it’s a judgement call.

    I, myself, have found myself riding without lights due to poor planning or dead batteries, yet I’m pretty solid in the pro-lights camp. Stuff happens. Some people don’t make overblown judgements about situations they know very little about. Some people do.

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  • robert February 11, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Hey PeeJay,

    Calm down.

    -Robert

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  • Crowbar February 11, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    This guy can get away with anything. His antics are crazy. It gets old after a while…

    He doesn’t need the money; he’s probably got a trust fund and is playing punk for attention. Ahem. Rev?

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  • t27 February 11, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Tasers are interesting tools. They claim to reduce the possibility of lasting injury to police and suspects. Used properly this is probably true. However, they appear to have a significant downside. In the wrong hands they may be used for torture that doesn’t leave any marks. To protect against these claims, the latest models are available with audio and video recording to protect the police from lawsuits over justifiable use. Or, maybe to deter the use of tasers for torture. How would they look if we called them by a less tech sounding name – cattle prode.

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  • John Peterson February 11, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Way to go Phil and his lawyer! Totally sue…even though it hurts us taxpayers…it seems to be the only recourse for victims of police brutality. Maybe one day the city and PPB will realize that brutality is more trouble than its worth.

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  • girl-shawn February 11, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Hi, Bjorn #30! Phil was represented by a court-appointed lawyer, and, AFIK, won’t have any payments to make for this criminal trial. The traffic court case, on the other hand….well, a few hundred bucks in traffic tickets seems worth it to expose this injustice.

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  • BURR February 11, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Congrats to Phil! See you in the streets!

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  • Anonymous February 11, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    benefit for phil! Let’s take up a collection on Friday from all the “poor” zoobombers! Hooray!!! Huzzah! Can I put any more explanation points on this?

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  • Crow Magumb February 11, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    benefit for phil! Let’s take up a collection on Friday! Hoorah!! Huzzah! Can I put any more exclamation points on this?

    Its good to see that the cops can’t get away with everythng. congrats!

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  • Krampus February 11, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Robert: Don’t be annoying about it. You asked what the facts were and PeeJay told you what they were. Don’t reply with “calm down.” His post was totally rational and not even remotely hot headed.

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  • Racer X February 11, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Remember Bikeportland readers to hit the paypal button below to send your bike love for Elly’s 3 days of coverage at the trial. (She could have been covering other topics.)

    Perhaps this coverage may help us (bicyclists) in a future PPB traffic stop – to limit it spinning out of control for something like a missing head lamp.

    How many car drivers are tackled and tazed for a missing head lamp these days?

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  • Mike February 12, 2009 at 12:13 am

    I’m very relieved! Congratulations Phil. And thanks for the great coverage Elly.

    I also believe that the officers should be disciplined.

    In response to mark (post 14) who said you have to side with your friend when a conflict breaks out: I agree, but that doesn’t mean you escape the consequences are any different.

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  • Mike February 12, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Mmm, Racer X. Darn good beer.

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  • Aaron February 12, 2009 at 1:04 am

    I understand how people are concerned about the economy and the city budget, but it is absurd to suggest that a victim of an overzealous police action should refrain from a civil suit on behalf of the greater good. If I’m tasered by the police, then vindicated by a court of law as not resisting arrest, you can be damn sure that I’m filing a civil suit.
    If a civil suit succeeds, and Sano gets some compensation, then the police force will (hopefully) be compelled to rethink its tasering policy. And isn’t that the point?

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  • Reverend Phil… Not Guilty! at Urban Velo February 12, 2009 at 4:59 am

    [...] to Bike Portland, Portland’s Reverend Phil was found “not guilty” of resisting arrest after being [...]

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  • Mike February 12, 2009 at 7:00 am

    Racer X-
    If the driver refused to pull over for an undercover police car, then was “resisting” arrest, while the officer smelled alcohal on his breath? You bet your @@@ that driver would get tased. Not only that, but most of the commenters here would be supportive, feeling that one less unsafe driver was on the road.
    Aaron-
    I mentioned the civil suit in the last article. My thoughts are this: who does the suit benefit? Truly? Only the “victim”. PBB will not instate some pro-cyclist training program, the officers will not be fired, PBB will not suffer. Phil could make an obscene amount of money and the Taxpayers will suffer. That’s all, end of story. The questions are these: How much will Phil make the taxpayers suffer and for what purpose? Personal gain, set up a wrongly accused cyclist fund, keep bike friendly attorneys on retainer for incidents like this (although he would probably end up using the bulk of that anyway)?

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  • peejay February 12, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Krampus:

    Exactly!

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  • peejay February 12, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Mike:

    How do you know what Rev Phil will do? Do you know him?

    And, how do you know that the PPB won’t change if they have to keep paying out large settlements. As I recall, when Los Angeles had all of its police brutality cases, the reason the city worked so hard to get the commissioner out of office is that it was costing the city tens of millions of dollars a year in settlements. To the extent that we have a disfunctional PPB now, we will continue to have one until such time as the city can no longer afford not to fix it. If it costs us as taxpayers some money to have this happen, then I guess its our fault as voters for not making this a bigger issue during elections.

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  • Mike February 12, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Peejay-
    All I know about Phil is what I have read about him. That is why I did not state that he would take one course or another. Instead, I left it open, asking what would he do with the money. Asking questions should be ok, and not incite a pro-Phil riot.

    As for the PBB, how much change have you seen following the other large lawsuits? Other than more reliance on tasers than guns (ironic). Do you think Portland can afford tens of millions of dollars? One million dollars? Does Phil deserve half a million? How much can you personally afford to give Phil, what if it was going to something bigger than his bank account? That is the basis of my questioning.

    I am not saying that he will take millions and by a Vanilla for each day of the year. I am just curious to see how this unfolds.

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  • foote February 12, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Would it really be so bad if he got a half million dollar settlement? There are (roughly) a half million people in portland, so we’re looking at about a dollar each.
    I know I can afford it.

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  • Mike February 12, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Foote-
    Good for you and your financial well being. Other than the entertainment he is providing, why should I give Phil a dollar? Did I victimize him? Does he represent me (NO)? What about the other ~499,999 Portlanders? Does he represent all of them?

    Problem is I know that my dollar would be better spent on my mortgage, school or put towards a ridiculously over priced bike tube.

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  • shewhodocs February 12, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Did yall know there is a documentary about Rev Phil available at Film Baby?

    http://www.filmbaby.com/films/1062

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  • Krstnjb February 12, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Mike re#53

    The police acted as our (the tax payers/voters) representives to enforce the laws we, as a community, have deemed need to be enforced.

    If our representives act inapropriately then Hell yes we should have to use our tax money to pay for the restitution.

    And if we don’t like doing that then we need to get off our asses and (using the system) change how we are represented by those police and or fire and or politicians.

    In the end we all live in this community and must accept that we are part of it, that we have responsibilites as well as rights.

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  • peejay February 12, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    krstnjb:

    Well said. I don’t want to pay money out for settlements, and I hope nobody else does. But having to pay out settlements is what motivates a city to make changes. If we had an uncontrollable police force, but most citizens felt it didn’t affect them because they weren’t likely to wind up being victimized by it, then there’s no motivation. Lawsuit settlements provide the motivation for citizens to act to fix the problem. An imperfect system, true, but it does the job.

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  • velocipede February 12, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Word. We are Portland. And we know our values.

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  • Boo Boo February 12, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Rev Phil ain’t gonna get no half-million dollar settlement. That’s for sure. The Rev ain’t no saint. Yes the PPB officer made a big mistake, but Phil’s got a long way to go before getting any money from the city.

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  • Mike February 13, 2009 at 7:10 am

    My point is that I am not sure that PBB did act wrongly. All I know is that a jury did not find Phil guilty of resisting arrest. That does not mean he did not resist arrest.

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  • peejay February 13, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Mike:

    OK, that’s a different point. There’s a middle ground between resisting arrest and civilly liable police actions, in which no one is in the wrong. I do believe that this is not one of those cases, though. There is another middle ground, in which the cops did something wrong but it’s unlikely to be proven in court, and that is what Phil has to decide. I think the transcripts of this case can only help Phil’s case. The burden of proof changes from the criminal case where the state had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed, to the civil case, where Mr Sano has merely to show a preponderance of evidence that makes his case, which is a little easier.

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  • SkidMark February 13, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    So Mike, you think it’s okay for Police to tackle cyclists off their bikes and tase them for not having a light when they don’t identify themself as a Police officer before doing so?

    I think you might have a different take on the situation if it was you, and it could be you. It could have been any of us.

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  • bahueh February 13, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    actually, SkidMark, it could have been anyone who doesn’t use lights on their bike at night…

    OK..show of hands…who here drives their car at night and doesn’t turn on their lights? anyone…anyone…?

    yet, still across PDX during my daily evening commutes, I see 6-8 riders typically with ZERO lights…

    It’s not rocket science. It’s common sense….and its severely lacking in many of this towns bike commuters…

    the police were wrong. Sano was wrong. just so happens the Police were more wrong in this instance…

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  • peejay February 13, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    I think you might have a different take on the situation if it was you, and it could be you. It could have been any of us.

    Right on, skid. It certainly could have been me. Try as I might to use lights every time it’s dark, I know that I’ve hopped on my bike and forgotten to turn them on. Which means it could have been any one of us, even the most safety-conscious of us.

    You know what’s slightly less effective than saying: “Hey buddy, how ’bout turning your light on?” Tackling the guy off his bike and tasing him until he loses control of his bodily functions, is what.

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  • wsbob February 13, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    The cops did identify themselves; with uniform mounted name tags, badges, and bureau issue big domestic unmarked sedan (with red and blue flashing lights on behind rear view mirror). The cops were remiss in not calling out a vocal i.d. when Sano did not stop at their command, but never the less, they did identify themselves.

    I think most people would have recognized the i.d. indicators present as suggesting a strong likelihood that it was the police, and would have stopped and asked who the guy approaching them was rather than ignoring him. If Sano had done that, the cop likely would not have pulled him off his bike.

    Given that the cops, up until Sano rode by, had been peacefully talking to a young woman across the street, there doesn’t seem to be much basis for him to conclude that the guy approaching him was a citizen bent on taking his bike or hurting him. Sano managed to claim he didn’t recognize what the person approaching him was, but it seems to be a weak claim.

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  • peejay February 13, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    If Sano had done that, the cop likely would not have pulled him off his bike.

    I have to ask: could the cop also have chosen not to pull someone off his bike because that’s a stupid m________king thing to do when dealing with a traffic stop?

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  • peejay February 13, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    If I had just handed over the money, the mugger would likely have not shot at me. My bad!

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  • Pete February 13, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Elly, I’ve been following this from afar and have found it to be great reporting. I have my own subconscious bias as a bike commuting reader, but I detected very few very subtle sarcasms (which were entertaining to boot). Well done.

    RacerX (#43): good plug. I hit the donate button after the robbery and I’m still in need of a decent crowbar… ;)

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  • jim February 14, 2009 at 9:02 am

    I think nothing has changed. Phil will still be defiant of the laws and will probably still not use a light. Next time he might get run into by a car that didn’t see him and he will sue the driver fornot seeing him… He new that was a cop, he was watching the whole scene with the cop car and knew that it was a cop approaching him that he was playing his stupid game with. I wish they would have had to do a persuit of him OJ style, that’s a felony when you elude police. He will get tasered again some day for playing more stupid games with the cops, normal people will stop and cooperate with the police and most people will never get tased, but not Phil

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  • SkidMark February 14, 2009 at 11:01 am

    What an amazing level of perfection you have acheived in your life, bahueh, that you have never had a dead battery in your light, and that you have never had a light or it’s bracket stolen. I suppose if you found yourself in that situation, rather than break the law ( no headlight is not exactly murder one) you would walk or take the bus home.

    I am not as perfect and law abiding as you, as just last week I opened my backpack and discovered that my light had been blinking for who knows how long, and the battery was almost dead, so like the outlaw that I am, I rode home at night anyways. Maybe I should have been tackled off my bike from behind and tased…

    I’ve driven a car without headlights, to an auto parts store to get a fuse.

    Please stop pretending that you never ever ever break the law, we all do sometimes.

    And sometime Police get overzealous when dealing with the public.

    And sometimes weirdos get a fair shake in court.

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  • SkidMark February 14, 2009 at 11:08 am

    And Jim, I ride with Rev. Phil quite a bit. He prefers to have a headlight at night.

    Also, I know when I plan to f**ck with and evade Police, I casually ride into the situation riding no-handed while unzipping my jacket.

    I’d love to know how any of you could identify a cop who was tackling you from behind. Eyes in the back of your head?

    I don’t know where you get off making judgements about someone you don’t even know.

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  • Scoff Law February 14, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    I don’t use a light. I’ve never had any problems riding at night without them. I hope this makes some of you angry, particularly bahuah.

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  • velocipede February 14, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    When you see people like Bob or Bahueh or Mike or Jim who persist in casting aspersions on Sano even though (a) they do not know the guy, (b) did not witness the situation, and (c) the State was unable to prove any criminal culpability in court, it becomes obvious that they’re simply intent on continuing to beat a dead horse.

    The sort of bias that persists in the face of ample contrary evidence is driven by emotion, not rationality.

    Bahueh’s position, for example, requires him to claim that he has never violated a traffic law, a ridiculous proposition. It also requires him to claim that police never do any wrong, another ridiculous proposition. Seeing people who do not follow the letter of the law at every instant makes his sphincter close and drives him toward bikeportland to express his impotent outrage. Over and over again. It’s very effective in making Portland a better place to ride.

    Bob’s position requires him to substitute the judgment of 12 of his peers who listened intently to days of evidence and spent hours considering the question of what Sano knew. That’s arrogance at its finest. He’s still making the case for the police, based on what he thinks “most people” would have done, even after the acquittal. Bob’s vision is so clouded he would have voted guilty regardless of the evidence.

    Jim simply ignores the fact that people who know Sano have explained that Phil does use a light and Sano’s claim that someone had stolen the bracket before he got on the bike that night. Instead, Jim characterizes Sano as someone who has it out for the police or motorists despite no evidence of any of that. Jim so badly wants to see people who aren’t “normal” get punished.

    Mike thinks an appropriate police response to a traffic law violation is to pull someone off their bicycle at considerable risk of harm even though it would have been very simple to use a verbal identification or a patrol car’s lights to accomplish a “better” result (arrest with no possibility of a lawsuit). He doesn’t understand what value civil rights lawsuits have in preserving our government’s encroachment on everyone’s rights. People who don’t value their rights won’t keep them for long.

    Arguing with a pig gets you nowhere and annoys the pig.

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  • jim February 14, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Jim just wants to see other people follow the same rules that he does, and if you are idiot enough to ignore a cop telling you to stop then you deserve to get what you get. I’m not worried about ever getting tazed because I don’t have that anti-authority attitude that puts you face down on the pavement. And no- I would not drive a car to an autoparts store with no headlights to buy a fuse,that is just plain stupidity.
    And no- I did not call Sano a dead horse.

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  • jim February 14, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Nor did I beat him

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  • SkidMark February 14, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    odvious troll is obvious.

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  • jim February 14, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Ethical views put aside, I’m glad we live in a place where people like Sano can be free to live the life he wants and he does get a certain amount of respect for that. The govt. is getting the idea now they can take away a lot of our rights and that they will make decisions for us, I support our police but not our politicians.
    And Skidmark- you get a little respect too

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  • peejay February 14, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    I just want people to follow the story that they choose to comment on, and not wilfully ignore the parts of it that don’t support their inane propositions. And, although I would not wish it on anyone, it might be instructive for Jim if he were arrested for something he didn’t do.

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  • peejay February 14, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Justice always works perfectly? Try this story out. For those too lazy to click, a couple of judges were caught taking kickbacks for sending kids to a for-profit juvenile detention center. The point: painfully obvious to all but the trolliest trolls.

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  • jim February 14, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    You may get your wish peejay with the leadership this country has now that could very well happen

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  • peejay February 14, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    go away jim. You’ve worn out your welcome, and are beginning to smell this place up, troll.

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  • wsbob February 14, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    I seem to remember from elly’s notes, someone estimating Sano’s speed to be about 8 mph as the cop came abreast of him…about the speed of a person jogging. Smith contacted Sano and stopped his forward progress on the bike without hurting him. Seems like a reasonable thing for him to have done if Sano was ignoring Smith’s efforts to get him to stop on his own.

    Why wouldn’t Smith have whipped his police car around and used that to stop Sano? I’d guess that’s because he had a reasonable expectation that Sano would stop when asked to by an approaching figure most people would conclude to likely be a police officer. I see a bit of irony in the fact that at that particular point in the incident, by virtue of his being on foot, the cop, as a pedestrian, was potentially more vulnerable than Sano.

    Based on the info we all have available to us here and in the news, as I said in an earlier comment, I think it would have been wrong to find Sano guilty. That’s partly because Smith didn’t use all the means he reasonably had available to him to ensure that Sano knew he was being approached by a police officer. He could have called out ‘POLICE!’. That shouldn’t have involved much additional effort, unless Smith was winded.

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  • Beefa February 15, 2009 at 12:07 am

    Bob Bob Bob…I know its a little passe for a cop in a black uniform, at night, on foot, to approach a distracted cyclist whose wearing glasses, who is committing a small traffic infraction and say: “stop Police” instead of “hey buddy”. Maybe its even a little passe to NOT taser a person suspected of a minor traffic violation,(I must get with the times) Yet my gut tells me that “Common Sense” is still a valued commodity among those whom are entrusted with carrying weapons. The very same weapons WE as taxpayers provided these “peace officers” with the authority to enforce OUR laws.I hate to paraphrase spiderman but: With great power comes great responsibility. legally carrying a gun is a great responsibility PERIOD! I would expect a modicum of due care on their part.

    Its We The People for a reason Bob. That goes for you Bahuah.

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  • peejay February 15, 2009 at 7:58 am

    I finally get what happened: the cops were showing off for the girl! Because nothing impresses the chicks like getting written a ticket and then watching some classy brutality! Although it seems like a poor substitute for flowers or witty conversation, it was kind of a clear case of men exhibiting power in front of a woman, and in that light, can explain a lot of the motivations.

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  • Elly Blue February 15, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Hi all — please try to keep the discussion on topic and respectful, despite your differing opinions.

    Also, Peejay and Skidmark — It really isn’t called for to refer to Jim as a troll or tell him to go away. You may not always agree with him but such is life.

    Thanks,
    Elly

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  • wsbob February 15, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Is it passe for a cop to call out to a citizen he wants to talk to that doesn’t acknowledge a friendlier request, ‘STOP! POLICE!’ ? Smith, saying that is the first time I’ve ever heard anything like this. I wish I’d been there to hear him say it, because I’m curious as to whether he was joking, or if he really meant that.

    If he really thinks that, he’s probably misinformed. I doubt that community policing, i.e. being friendly, fostering good relationships between citizens and police means encourages abandoning basic measures that police officers sometimes need to clearly identify themselves to people.

    peejay, laugh if you want, but I really think that Smith, in the process of talking with the girl about her traffic maneuver had something to do with his deciding to go across the street after Sano. Maybe he wasn’t quite showing off as I speculated earlier, but he at least probably felt that since he had stopped the girl for doing something he thought was wrong, that he should make a point of being consistent and go over and stop the guy riding on by without a headlight on the front of his bike.

    If he hadn’t, might not the girl have thought ‘Hey, he stops me for doing nothing wrong at all, and there’s a guy riding by on his bike without a light!’ ?.

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  • steve February 15, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Elly-

    ‘Troll’ is not a bad word. It in fact, has a definition. Jim is the poster child of an internet Troll. Calling him out on his bad actions is perfectly reasonable.

    Again I ask you, please get a dictionary.

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  • steve February 15, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Bob,

    Why do you insist on second guessing the decisions of a jury? A jury privy to more facts than you, that also spent much more time than you reviewing the facts of this case.

    Is it so hard to realize that you have no idea what you are talking about, and are also completely wrong?

    Apparently so.

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  • jim February 15, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    steve

    did you ever consider that many times a jury is not aware of all the facts, news stories, tv reports, many more things not allowed into court.
    also- is anyone who dosn’t agree with your liberal viewpoints considered a troll?

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  • steve February 15, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    No Jim, only trolls are.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll

    Also, I am not a liberal. So sorry.

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  • jim February 15, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    sorry Steve for calling you a liberal- my bad

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  • peejay February 15, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Got nothin’ to do with politics, and I stand by my call: Jim = troll

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  • wsbob February 15, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Steve, thanks for all the love and support! Actually, I’m not second guessing the jury’s decision. Never once have I questioned the jury’s decision. In fact, if you would take care to think about what you’ve read, you would probably notice that I’ve agreed with the jury’s verdict.

    Regardless what the jury decides or does not decide, everyone is entitled to formulate their own ideas and draw their own conclusions based on the information available to them. The result is not a verdict, it’s just an opinion.

    If you, Steve, choose not to think anything more about an incident after a jury has presented their verdict, that’s your business. You’re mistaken if you believe anyone else is obliged to think and act similarly to yourself.

    Steve, in your own way, you always manage to help keep things interesting around here…

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  • velo February 16, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    On a related note, the inventor of the TASER is now dead. Always sad to see innovation co-opted for the purposes of violence and abuse.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/16/us/16cover.html

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  • Afro Biker February 16, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    Just like on the cop car in ‘Transformers’ maybe the new motto of Portland Police should be “To punish and enslave”.

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  • revphil February 17, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Thanks to all the support and especially to Elly Blue and Sarah Mirk of the Merc for excellent coverage of this matter.

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  • ndrewpetersen February 19, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    So many posts, so little understanding on both sides. While I agree that police in general need to be reined in, Po-town has it pretty easy. Check out Chicago’s cops sometime. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FM0Lm8PgM9U there is some peaceful resolution… Try getting in a conflict with one of these meatheads.

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  • WorriedAboutTasers February 20, 2009 at 2:56 am

    Tasers should be a tool of last resort, just prior to use of lethal force. This case demonstrates yet again that police — and it’s everywhere, not just in Portland — are not trained to give tasers their due respect.

    In any other context, intentional administration of painful electric shock(s) to effect compliance with an order would likely be considered torture under the 1984 Convention Against Torture definition. Too often, police seem to feel punitive use of such shocks are justifiable, and that tasering a suspect is a safe(r) or acceptable means of subjugation.

    Neither is the case! Biased studies by taser manufacturers notwithstanding, tasers are in fact dangerous and potentially lethal.

    Even discounting other witnesses and accepting the officer’s account of what happened, I cannot find justification for use of a taser in this instance. (Before tasers were available, would the officers have used their guns in this case?) I hope Portland Police’s review of the incident would find similarly and recommend some alternate means of controlling the subject and the situation.

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