Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Man on a bike is tackled, then tasered by Portland Police

Posted by on June 11th, 2008 at 4:20 pm

Photo from the scene at SE 7th and Alder
last night.
(Photo: Ian Stude)

A Portland man says he was tackled, pushed off his bike, and then tasered repeatedly by a Portland Police officer in Southeast Portland last night.

The Portland Police Bureau, in a written statement about the incident, say that Phil Sano (a.k.a. “Rev Phil”) did not have a front light on his bicycle and that he refused to stop when officers requested.

The incident occurred around 9:30pm on SE 7th Street, just north of SE Morrison Ave. Phil Sano says he was riding along and felt cold, so he went to zip up his jacket. Then, in an email he sent me just hours after the incident, he wrote,

“Across the street a man in all black shouted at me and started walking my way. I stopped pedaling, but didn’t stop because my hands were not on my brakes. He then sprinted, lunged and tackled me. I then scuffled to separate him and stood apart from him in a defensive position.”

Then, Sano says, he was tasered several times.

Phil Sano in April 2008.
(Photo © J. Maus)

“I felt a sharp sting in my back and heard a repetitive clicking. I turned around to see that I was being tasered!”

At that point, Sano maintains he still did not know what was going on and he repeatedly asked the officers to explain what he had done wrong. At that point, Sano says two officers were holding him down and he could still feel the taser charge flowing into his back.

“I was still freaked out and yelled again, why are you shooting me?”

Sano says the cops yelled for him to “get down”, but that he still had no idea who was accosting him. He wrote, “It was pretty dark and they were wearing all black without any sort of shiny badge…. They looked kinda’ like cops, but generally cops do not tackle bikers unless it is Critical Mass.”

According to Sano, he was tasered “point blank” in the chest and the lower back and that he began to “spasm out of control as the surge of electricity involuntarily constricted” his muscles.

“…the cop took two steps after him, grabbed him by the shirt, yanked him off the bike, ran hum up the sidewalk and slammed him against the wall and then right away started tasing him.”
–Diana Spartis (she witnessed the entire incident)

After pleading repeatedly for them to stop, Sano says they continued and that, “without question, I could tell they enjoyed seeing me become so helpless, so weak. It was humiliating.”

Once the tasering stopped, Sano said he laid in a small puddle of his own urine, breathing irregularly and “seething with rage”.

“I can still feel their knee on my neck as I write this, but even then I knew they were in the wrong… really, really fucking wrong.” He added, “There was no cause for such violence; I was not harming anyone and I made sure that everyone within earshot knew it.”

Sano says that all the while, a barb from the taser remained lodged in his chest. Luckily, he remembers, a passing ambulance heard him screaming, stopped on the scene, and removed the electrode from his chest. Sano says that the EMT, “was very concerned” that his speeding heart rate would not slow down.

Once everything calmed down, Sano says the cops told him that he was stopped because he didn’t have a front light.

Sano admits he didn’t have his front light on his bike, because someone had stolen the cradle it attaches to. He says the cops found his light in his fannypack a few minutes later.

According to Sano’s recollection of the incident, he heard Officer Smith say, “You should have stopped when I told you to. Then none of this would be necessary.”

A written statement just released by the Portland Police Bureau’s Public Information Officer Brian Schmautz says that the officers were in uniform and were dealing with another woman and had “turned on their lights to alert traffic while they talked to her.”*

Then, writes Schmautz, they saw Sano roll by without a light and, “One of the officers told Sano to stop, but Sano ignored him.” Here is the rest of Schmautz’s statement:

A photo of where one of the
tasers entered Sano’s body.
(Photo courtesy Phil Sano)

“The officer, then reached out to stop Sano and they began to struggle. Sano refused to comply with any of the officers orders and continued to resist until additional officers arrived. The officers attempted to Taser Sano, but it was ineffective because of Sano’s clothing.

Sano was eventually arrested and taken to jail. Sano apparently admitted he had been drinking, but was not given field sobriety tests because the officers were not arresting him for DUII. FYI, the officers checked Sano’s history and learned that the Police Bureau had given Sano a warning for a bike light and a free bike light in the past.”


Diana Spartis, a 28 year-old Sellwood resident, was being cited for not having a light on her bike when the incident took place. On the phone with me this morning, she said Officer Smith was telling her about the importance of having a light when Sano rode by on the other side of the street.

Spartis says the Officer noticed Sano also didn’t have a front light then yelled at him to stop. She then told me, “He [Sano] didn’t stop immediately, and the cop took two steps after him, grabbed him by the shirt, yanked him off the bike, ran him up the sidewalk and slammed him against the wall and then right away started tasing him.”

Sartis recollects that she was “maybe 50 feet away” and says, “I did not see him [Sano] do anything physical to the cops… he wasn’t cooperating fully, but he also wasn’t doing anything that should have provoked them that much. He was screaming, ‘no! no!, why are you doing this?'”


The two officers involved in the incident were Officers Erin Smith and Ron Hoesly. Both are members of the Traffic Division.

I have no knowledge of Officer Smith other than this report from a Critical Mass ride back in February of 2005.

riding along with Officer Hoesly

Officer Hoesly in August 2006.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Officer Hoesly is a motorcycle cop. Back in August of 2006 I joined Officer Hoesly for a ride-along. I frequently see Hoesly around town and he is always friendly and congenial.

Hoesly and Smith initially charged Sano with Resisting Arrest, Attempted Escape III, and Disorderly Conduct. He was also cited for not having a front light (ORS 815.280) and Failure to Obey a Police Officer (ORS 811.535).

(UPDATED*) At his arraignment at the Justice Center in downtown Portland a few hours ago, Sano says the clerk told him he had been given a “no-charge”. *According to a source who is a lawyer that means (for whatever reason) the case is not going forward, but the charges can brought back to life at a later date. My source says this could be an indication that either the police or the DA’s office didn’t think they could prove, or didn’t want to try to prove, the charges.

This isn’t the first time Sano has had run-in with the police. During the 2006 World Naked Bike Ride, Sano was involved in an altercation with an off-duty police officer who was the passenger in a motor vehicle that was being held up during the ride. Sano alleged that the vehicle’s driver tried to run him over.

In that case, Sano was charged with several misdemeanors (including Criminal Mischief and Disorderly Conduct) and faced 2 1/2 years in jail. The case was ultimately dismissed and Sano was set free.**

(This incident is being discussed on the Zoobomb Forum and in the Portland Bike Forums.)

(*Note: I added a part of the Police statement that mentioned the Officer’s vehicle lights being on several hours after I initially posted the story.

**I added information about Sano’s Naked Ride trial at 10:23pm on Wednesday night.

UPDATE: The Oregonian has quoted another Police spokesperson as saying they didn’t taser Sano until he became “combative”. Read that story here.

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  • brewcaster June 11, 2008 at 4:28 pm


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  • Kronda June 11, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Holy crap, that is scary. Hope you\’re healing up (physically and emotionally) from this Rev. Excessive force anyone?

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  • Grimm June 11, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    PPB new bike policy: Don\’t have a light and we\’ll beat the f*ck out you.

    Seriously, if large make in black yelled in a confronting way at me I would probably break in a sprint. Its not like bikers are the type to be armed, why did two officers taser him multiple times?

    My sympathy goes out to Rev Phil. Heal up. Im no legal expert but I would try to seek legal action for excessive use of force.

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  • gabriel amadeus June 11, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Seriously? How can all those charges stem from not having a front light? A scenario which had a completely plausible story, I\’ve had my light/clamp stolen several times.

    Tackled, tasered, and a knee in the back? Serving and Protecting? No thank you, I\’m better off without the police force from the sounds of it.

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  • Robert Dobbs June 11, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Looks like business as usual w/ the PPD.

    Sue the bastards, Phil.

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  • Grimm June 11, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Sorry for the misspelling in #3. Make = Male.

    At any point before the tasering did the PPB in any way clarify they were police? Shouting \”Stop, police!\” is a lot different that \”Hey, Stop!\”.

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  • poser June 11, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    is this Portland or Singapore?

    \”…we thought that riding without a front light might be dangerous, so we decided to tackle, beat and taser you until you wet yourself. Young man, the alternative could have been much worse – consider yourself lucky.\”

    I think these fellas are missing the point of the whole no-front-light law. what do you think?

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) June 11, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    \”At any point before the tasering did the PPB in any way clarify they were police? \”

    from my conversations with phil, it took him a while to realize they were police and that fact added to his confusion upon being pushed from his bike.

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  • Me2 June 11, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Can anyone confirm that the Cops ID\’d themselves as police? All 3 accounts seem to indicate that the Police did not identify themselves as such before going after Phil.

    If I\’m riding along at night and someone yells at me to stop I\’m likely to ignore them. If someone yells \”this is the police, stop,\” then I\’m likely to comply.

    This is downright scary and it sounds like a few words could have avoided this entire incident.

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  • SkidMark June 11, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    It must be summer, the Police are harassing cyclists again.

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  • maxadders June 11, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    This is absolutely disgusting. I\’m scared of cops in Portland– why? Because their actions turn routine stops into violent confrontations that often turn deadly. This could easily become another James Chasse. Ever parked outside of a bar or movie theater and forgot to remove your light, only to find it stolen minutes later? Prepare to have an unaccountable, bureaucracy-protected thug assault you and fire harmful and potentially lethal weapons at you. The PPB is a disgrace to honest law enforcement everywhere.

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  • Donna June 11, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    My goodness, it looks like Officer Hoesly got carried away and forgot he had a witness standing right there! Too bad for Officer Hoesly…

    My best to Rev. Phil.

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  • Diogo June 11, 2008 at 4:48 pm


    The link Johnatan gave for a report on Critical Mass in 2005 says Officer Smith is on camera saying \”We (Portland Police) work for ourselves, not for you\” – that to me explains a lot. These guys act as gang members; Portland Police seems to have an internal culture of being above the law.

    This is not an isolated incident. Anyone who has been following local news knows tha PPD is brutal, violent and abusive.

    What are going to do about it???!!!!

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  • eric June 11, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    If you would like to email the chief of police to voice your opinion:

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  • Martha R June 11, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Serve and protect, eh? I\’m sure Phil was much safer being yanked off his bike, tased, and sent to jail than he would have been if they\’d allowed him to ride without a light. After all, they\’d already given him one light. Can\’t have those dangerous unlit scofflaws pedaling around our streets — who knows where they\’ll end up. And what was he doing wearing all those clothes? Was he purposely trying to make the taser ineffective?

    Seriously, though, this is disgusting. The lull in police incidents of late had me hoping that the bureau was starting to clean up its act. Guess not. Good luck, Phil!

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  • toddistic June 11, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    maybe the cops should be spending their time busting drunks in cars then people on bikes. I\’ve ridden at night numerous times without a light, fully aware that I may receive a ticket but a beating? You have to be kidding me!

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  • Jessy June 11, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    I gotta say, as a female rider, if I was riding along in the middle of the night and someone yelled at me, I don\’t think I\’d stop either. Unless it was really obvious that it was a cop, but it sounds like for whatever reasons that wasn\’t apparent.

    In any case, I agree that this sounds a bit excessive… What a shame.

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  • Caroline June 11, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    They messed with the wrong guy. Uh oh.

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  • bDave June 11, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks for reporting this Jonathan, you are the promptest! Nothing but side streets for the summer for this Buffalo.

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  • J June 11, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    This sounds eerily similar to what my friend and I experienced a couple years ago riding without a light. We didn\’t get tackled, he essentially tried to run us over (swooped about 2 feet in front of us actually half jumping the curb in the process).

    That\’s Portland, what can you say?

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  • Diogo June 11, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    We need to organize a BIKE RIDE/PROTEST to City Hall, to PPB, demanding that the Chief of Police step down!!

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  • bahueh June 11, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    that is unphucking believable…
    I hope this guy finds a good lawyer and sues the police burean…AGAIN.

    a running tackle for a guy without a light on his bike? are you freaking serious? these are the people charged with \”protecting\” us?

    so much for the changes associated with the new head of the traffic division…

    next they\’ll start running us all over with their squad cars or motorcycles in order to issue tickets…

    how \’bout this, copper? you and I on a bike at the foot of the west hills…last fat ass to the top pretends to stop being an officer of the law.

    freakin\’ joke.

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  • BURR June 11, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    typical dumbass PPB behavior that\’s probably going to cost the city\’s taxpayers a pile of money when the city settles the lawsuit they deserve for this.

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  • Caroline June 11, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    I might also say, I\’ve been noticing more and more patients in the hospital with taser injuries…

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  • Graham June 11, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    It\’s nice that Portland has a platinum rating and all, but with this police force, and its attitude toward cyclists, we really don\’t deserve it. And I\’m not anti-cop! I\’ve gladly testified in court on behalf of a cop who tasered an armed assailant, and who was totally justified in doing so. However, I\’ve also ridden – safely, legally, and in control – in a Critical Mass in which I felt like a sheep surrounded by a pack of ticket-happy wolves.

    It\’s like they get off on the fact that cyclists are so easy to catch, and – in this case – tackle.

    My theory is that there are some cops who genuinely want to protect and serve, some that just want to carry guns and tell people what to do, and some that are a combination of both.

    Here\’s hoping Sam Adams does a bit more as mayor to protect us from our own police force.

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  • GG June 11, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    holy crap

    This past Sunday Officer Smith pushed me off of my bike. I was crossing NW 15th on Marshall at a block sized gap in the floats from the parade. He was supposedly controlling the intersection, but he wasn\’t actually doing anything to communicate that it was forbidden to cross the street. He ran into the intersection and knocked me to the ground. Officer Hoesly joined after I jumped back up and they proceeded to write me a ticket for \”Failure to obey a police officer\”.

    I haven\’t figured out what I should/need to do about this yet aside from showing up at the court date and contesting. If any of you litigious types have advice I would be grateful. I assumed this was some bizarre one-off experience, but clearly officer Smith is angry, violent, has a problem with cyclists and needs to be dealt with. Please let me know if you\’d like to contact me with advice.

    Sorry your experience was even worse Phil.

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  • Graham June 11, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    #18: \”They messed with the wrong guy. Uh oh.\”


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  • Sky June 11, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    I\’ve also had an incident with the PDX popo
    that wound up really bad. The best part was one officer maced four of his mates at one point. As for myself \”oops! Sorry we got the wrong guy\”.

    So I can relate.

    Ron Hoesly on the other hand I\’ve known from the time we were both very young. He and his family are the kindest of people. The type you can only hope for as neighbors. In fairness I haven\’t seen Ronny in years but, at the same time it seems very unlike him to do any thing malicious. And I can\’t stand seeing anyones name being trashed without knowing the whole story.

    Best wishes to all involved.

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  • Darren June 11, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Will our mayor-elect please step forward and stop the madness?

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  • Diana June 11, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Re: # 8
    No, the officers did not identify themselves as cops. One just jogged into the middle of the street and yelled \”Stop.\” It seems pretty obvious Rev. Phil was not purposely evading a police officer; he was going so slow that the cop was able to take a few steps after him and pull him off his bike. Last time I checked, it is really easy for someone on a bike to outpace a person on foot if they want to.

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  • AndyK June 11, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Dear Chief Sizer,

    I read a story on about two of your officers pulling a man off a bicycle, throwing him against a wall and repeatedly tazering him to the point that he urinated himself, all for the very serious crime of not having a bike light. As a daily bike rider (and someone who has had a light stolen from me while I was away from my bike) I find this type of action on the part of the police department totally inexcusable. Is it really a policy of your department to brutalize and cause potentially serious harm (Tazers kill many people every year) to a person who is RIDDING A BIKE WITHOUT A HEAD LIGHT? If this is the message you and your department would like to send to all the cyclists in this city, namely that if you as a cyclist violate even the most minor of laws the nearest police officer can and will hurt you up to and beyond the point of self urination. If this is your message and you want this type of police behavior to be used, then do not reprimand these officers. If on the other hand you feel that the officers in question where out of line and that they violated protocol, then I strongly suggest that the offending officers are dismissed and reprimanded. Also I would like to note my favorite part of the story: The calm and respectful way the offending officer approached the situation. Especially where the clearly marked officer clearly identified himself.

    Lastly: considering the reaction of the police in this situation is this the type of treatment I and my girlfriend can expect to receive when confronted with your officers? If I can be assaulted and tazed to the point that I piss myself, then I feel I would be far safer without the service and protection. I appreciate the effort, but considering the expected reaction, I think I\’ll be safer without the light.

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  • Laura June 11, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    I wish the cops would be so vigilant with folks who drive their cars w/no lights after dark. And the idiots who drive around neighborhood streets with their brights or fog lights on, blinding every biker, pedestrian, dog and cat in their midst.

    Rev. Phil…get well soon!

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  • anonymous June 11, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    I imagine there\’s more to this story than we have heard.

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  • John Peterson June 11, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Just emailed the cheif
    do we got Sam\’s email handy?
    anyone else we should bug on this?
    phone numbers?

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  • Robert Dobbs June 11, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    @anonymous #33

    I imagine there\’s more to this story than we have heard.

    Oh do please fill us in with your eye witness account.

    Oh wait, you weren\’t there were you? Too bad at least one completely unrelated person present at the scene backs up Rev. Phil\’s story.

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  • eugene June 11, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    The only way this will ever change is through protest with specific goals:

    1) The firing of Officer Smith. That\’s a difficult battle, but a necessary one – the only thing these police will ever understand is losing their job. They are absolutely convinced that they will never be fired no matter how many laws they break.

    2) Some lesser form of punishment for Officer Hoesly. He may be a nice guy, but he should have stepped in to enforce the law, even against his fellow officer. Even nice guys need to learn the importance of following the rules.

    3) Clear rules that mandate police announce themselves *as police* before using physical force, against anyone, in any situation. Again, this must be backed up by credible consequences, including the loss of one\’s job.

    4) Clear rules that the PPB may not ever use a Taser merely to subdue someone. There must be a threat to the officers or to the public – a clear and immediate threat – for a taser to be involved. Again, misuse of a taser should also be a firing offense.

    Unless Portlanders demand EACH point, nothing will ever change. So it\’s up to you – take action now to prevent this from happening again, or sit on your hands, hope for the best, and get momentarily outraged again when some other innocent person is attacked by police terrorists.

    Police feel they are above the law. They must be reminded that they are not.

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  • Mister Viddy June 11, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Sadly even with the election of Good Sam this type of behavior will continue.

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  • Snowflake Seven June 11, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    I have been working really hard to persuade my family and friends that cycling is a safe alternative. Gas prices have been helping. But something like this, it shuts down any conversation. I am sad and scared.

    This should never, ever happen. Not even once. Isn\’t there all sorts of rules of engagement or something that prevent this from even coming close to happening?

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  • Matthew Denton June 11, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Okay, I\’ll admit that I\’ve said in the past that I wished that the police would write tickets to bicyclists without headlights. It isn\’t safe, and it makes the rest of us look bad…

    However, \”tickets\”, not \”almost kill them.\” If the cop had seen a car with a burned out headlight that didn\’t stop to a \”hey stop\”, they wouldn\’t have shot it full of holes, would they? (Ohh, wait, they do do that.)

    And really, the police have to identify themselves. If people get randomly tackled, they are either going to run away or fight back, that is what people do. You can\’t charge a person with resisting arrest if the person isn\’t aware that the cop isn\’t actually a mugger…

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  • tonyt June 11, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Here\’s a question.

    If a car were driving down the road without its lights on, would cops have run it off the road right off the bat like that?

    No freakin way. Another example of the cops seeing cyclists as lesser citizens in need of a lessen.

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  • Metal Cowboy June 11, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    From this account there appears to have been some terrible judgement by the officers, which I hope costs them dearly and makes and example of this sort of behavior.
    Believe me, if some yells stop at night frrom the sidewalk, I\’m not stopping unless I hear the word Police out of their mouths and even then it\’s going to take moment to stop and access the situation… but if this officer was able to pull him off the bike he wass not fleeing – all bets would be off at that moment for me. I\’m disgusted by this whoel thing. No one needed to be tasered. Get better Rev. Get better and even.

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  • bikerinNE June 11, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    This story sucks… PDX is becoming backwards when it comes to law enforcement. I got a citation for smoking on a max platform, and because I despise trimet, i don\’t use it. Well, i had no choice in April but to ride Max, and when i did i stepped off the train at 82nd ave, stepped away from everyone else and lit a smoke. I took one drag and a cop gave me a ticket. I was standing right in front of a sign the listed all the \”Prohibited Activities,\” and it didn\’t list smoking as one of the those. I pointed out to the officer about the lack of a no smoking sign in the area, and he said, \”It\’s at the top of the stairs.\” I reminded him that i just got off of the train and didn\’t come from that direction. Long story short, i took pictures of the area, sent my ticket in before the due date, and the court sent me a letter in the mail stating i needed to pay my fine, and that they increased the fine from 94 dollars to 317 dollars.

    Portland is a great bicycling community, and miss the seen. But with stories like this, and all the crime and bad policing, like ticketing someone for smoking in an outdoor setting away from everyone, and yet can\’t stop the beatings of innocent people on the train, drug deals and shootings, there going after the small money makers, instead of doing the hard labor. They\’re going for the small easy fish. Thats why i moved the hell away.

    Keep riding Portland, F the police.

    Get well soon Rev. Phil

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  • Joe June 11, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    These type of cops make me feel so happy and free.. bunch of crap! what happened to protect and serve?

    zap them i say!

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  • tonyt June 11, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    The Portland Police are organizationally descended from people who were hired to crack the skulls of striking workers.

    Thugs then, and apparently thugs now.

    Hey PoPo. I know you\’re one of the good cops out there. But I gotta tell you, if it bothers you that more people don\’t show appreciation and respect, THIS is a perfect example of why. Don\’t freakin blame us. You guys reap what you sow.

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  • bikerinNE June 11, 2008 at 6:38 pm


    Good Point. Wasn\’t there an article when POPO parked his car in a bike lane, and he was ashamed at how peopled dealt with his vehicle in it (the bike lane.) Well i\’m ashamed with the Portland Police. The police officers need to be more easily fired and prosecuted. You, the fucking police, hide behind a bull shit union that has no conscience. Shame on YOU!

    Law enforcement officers are supposed to use good judgment. However, being able to run after a cyclist and removing the person from the cycle tells me that the rider wasn\’t fleeing the scene. If i was a cop and noticed the rider casually riding along and attempted to reach the person, and did, that should say something. If, while attempting, to reach the person on the bicycle, and they speed up, or stand up on the pedals to accelerate, then maybe use of force might be necessary.

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  • Tesla June 11, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Schmautz writes that the taser did not affect him due to clothing- the photo is proof that the self-serving statement of the police is a lie. If the barb got to his skin, he certainly did get the juice.

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  • felix June 11, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    I can\’t imagine why no one respects the police. To disgusted to make a post without just going off….

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  • SkidMark June 11, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    I would love to see what these two Officers involvement with past CM rides or if any of the bike messenger have tickets from them. It seems to me that a lot of the motorcycle cops have a vendetta of sorts against cyclists. Even when they are escorting something like the Fat Tire Fest\’s bike parade they are rude and ride with little regard for cyclists.

    The thing that gets me about this is that you would think as motorcyclists themselve they would realize who they need to watch out for, people in cars and trucks. They are just as vulnerable to right-hooks, left-hooks, and \”I didn\’t see hims\” but for some reason they tend to pick on cyclists. Maybe it is because there is less of a chance of getting hurt, i means how many of us cyclists are gun-carrying thugs. Typical bully behavior.

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  • JC June 11, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Wow- crazy. I understand (somewhat) from both sides. I am a police reserve for my city and know what it\’s like to be in situations like this but by the sounds of it, this was excessive. My brother is in law enforcement also and he told me his taser would record audio (and I think video too) when fired. Would be interested to know if the PPD has taser cams and what was really said while he was being tased.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery.
    Biking Duluth

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  • matchu June 11, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    This is unjust and inexcusable. Having been assaulted by strangers while riding around at night, I would not stop hearing someone say *only* \”Stop!\” If they had said \”Police!\” then that would be a different story. This is repulsive behavior on the part of these particular officers. It is disgusting conduct. I\’ll leave it at this for now.

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  • Alan Cordle June 11, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Dear Good Rev.,

    I am sorry this happened to you and hope you\’re feeling better. Still, I have to ask, what part of your body exactly are we seeing in that photo?

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  • skwaraz June 11, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    If cops were lightning poor Phil would just be a charred ember.

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  • lovetobikedaily June 11, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    So when was the last time a car driver was stop for not have a headlight, got pulled out of the car, pushed to a wall and got tazered??? Boy That would have been front page news. I ride early in the AM I would not have stopped either.

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  • Beefa June 11, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Hey #31 \”Is it really a policy of your department to brutalize and cause potentially serious harm (Tazers kill many people every year) to a person who is RIDDING A BIKE WITHOUT A HEAD LIGHT? If this is the message you and your department would like to send to all the cyclists in this city, namely that if you as a cyclist violate even the most minor of laws the nearest police officer can and will hurt you.\” Yes Yes Yes. This what the police want you to feel. Don\’t be fooled by the lip service these cops give to their bosses and the media. These people are thugs through and through. Why do you think they became cops in the first place? Has anyone on this blog ever asked yourselves that?
    \”to protect and serve\”??!! Maybe themselves. Cyclist are fish in a barrel to these people.

    Oh and Phil.. When you collect from the city, remember you owe me for the wading pool that you fouled up last year @ the Rickreal Open. Hope your OK

    The Beef

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  • Kphomma June 11, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Think about it, if police will tackle, tase, knee, a fellow cyclist(s), what would(\’ve) happen if you\’re running no brakes? No helmet? What can happen then?

    I hope Rev Phil gets well soon.

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  • Jon June 11, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Officer E. Smith and Officer Ron Hoesly and the few others like these guys define the negative stereotypes that people associate with police.

    From my review of the story presented by Jonathan and the associated links, I\’m ashamed that my taxes pay ***inappropriate insult deleted*** like those mentioned here, they are a complete dishonor to the Police Department, The City of Portland, and greater humanity…

    I\’m very confused by the officer\’s actions, what exactly were they trying to do? The actions of the officers don\’t seem to be at all in alignment with the situation. I\’d hate to call it power trip or ego, but these guys are seriously behaving like children with weapons. lack of control, accurate judgement and overreaction. I know a couple of 12 year olds and they behave with much greater regard for other people. Did Mr. Hoesly start hanging out with the wrong crowd?

    I\’m greatly saddened by the events of this article. I hope that the officers can be adequately trained to effectively judge and act in less hostile ways in the future and if not they need to be let go from the force.

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  • Spanky June 11, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Having nearly hit at least three bicyclists while I was driving within the last few weeks, and having stepped off a curb in front of one as a pedestrian over the weekend I am all for enforcement. I also find it interesting that Mr. Sano did not tell you, or you did not quote him telling you, that he had been drinking that evening. Nor is there mention of the lights on the patrol vehicles and his failure to recognize uniformed officers.

    Two sides to every story. Not saying the officers were right. But I try to remain mindful that police officers deal with an unending train of BS every day, and this does sometimes affect how they react.

    And of course when being hailed, one should always obey an officer. After all, they have guns, and tasers, and the ability to charge one witha crime or violation, rightly or wrongly, they have that power.

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  • biker June 11, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    The police culture needs to change. It won\’t mean anything unless the union contract is changed. Binding arbitration has reversed discipline for almost every misdeed. Police: be heroes, not villains.

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  • Spanky June 11, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    PS #46, the aptly named tesla should know it takes two barbs from a taser to penetrate for it to work. Pict seems to show only one barb mark. But I\’d bet Mr. Sano knew he was tazed. It does indeed smart a bit.

    To me, the lights on the police vehicles would have beena rather large indicator that the person hailing me was law enforcement. Under any circumstances.

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  • Charlie June 11, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    The guy was talking shit.. as is SOP with you people, it seems.

    He completely deserved it.

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  • Ken June 11, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Spanky, you seem to have never passed by an officer handling business with someone on the side of the road with their lights off. I can tell you from experience that it happens frequently. You seem to know better, or think you do, but I would imagine that if there were \’lights-a-flashing\’ across the street that fact would have been brought up before now.

    Nice try though. The simple fact is, if this had been someone in a car with no headlights on the outcome would have been completely different.

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  • DJ Hurricane June 11, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    For those of you who are curious, when cops drag you off your bike, tase you, and beat you up, it may implicate your civil right to be free from \”unreasonable…seizure\” under (what\’s left of) the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.

    Under the Supreme Court\’s jurisprudence interpreting this prohibition on governmental action, for a citizen to prevail against a city on such a claim, the citizen must prove that the city officials\’ actions implemented a policy, ordinance, or decision officially adopted by the city\’s decision-makers (e.g., police chief, mayor) or that those decision-makers hired the officials with deliberate indifference to the known or obvious outcome that they would violate a citizen\’s civil rights.

    For a citizen to prevail against an individual government official on such a claim, the citizen must defeat the official\’s qualified immunity and show that the official knew or reasonably should have known that the action he took within his sphere of official responsibility would violate the constitutional rights of the citizen.

    The official\’s demonstrated malicious intent or other subjective beliefs about his conduct are irrelevant to determining qualified immunity. Further, the reasonableness of the official\’s actions are judged from the on-scene perspective and given substantial deference to account for the dangerousness of the job and need to make split-second decisions.

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  • Jim Cropcho June 11, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Get better Phil!

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) June 11, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    \”I also find it interesting that Mr. Sano did not tell you, or you did not quote him telling you, that he had been drinking that evening\”

    Spanky… did you notice in the article that I included a statement from the police that referred to Sano as having admitted he was drinking?

    I know there are two sides to every story… that\’s why I waited all day today before publishing this story because I didn\’t hear back from the police until about 4:30. I could have posted this story at 10:30 am with a full account from Phil Sano and from two witnesses… but I decided to wait and give the Police a chance to respond. Please, if anyone understands that there are two sides to every story it is me.

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  • Racer X June 11, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    I guess the Portland Police Bureau officers will now start shooting bullets at car drivers who have a broken head light! I guess fair is fair.

    And to the Portland bike shops…I guess you all better start selling bikes with working head lamps and bells/ horns…per the ORS…before they leave your shops! Or else PPB will need larger jails.

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  • Residentevil June 11, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    The Portland Police has been misusing tasers many times. See also here:
    The problem is City Hall. The Major doesn\’t even think there is improvement needed.

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  • Racer X June 11, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    Will the Rev be free from the clink before BikePorn starts on Friday?

    Or will we have to bring the show to him? And a 1000 bike bells outside his cell?

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  • Residentevil June 11, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    More about tasers here:

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  • Zaphod June 11, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    If someone in dark clothes tells me to stop, I\’d rip a serious sprint out of instinct. If the person is clearly an officer, I\’d do the opposite. Riding on city streets requires plenty of split second decisions to stay out of harm\’s way.

    This story is deeply frustrating. You can expect me in attendance for any rallies or actions related to this if I can possibly make it.

    I don\’t know you Rev Phil but I hope for a speedy recovery. Sorry this happened to you.

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  • Jon June 11, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Isn\’t this the second time this Phil guy has gotten in to an altercation with police involving alcohol and a traffic infraction? It seems like there were plenty of mistakes on both sides of this thing. Maybe the police need to relax, but Phil needs to develop a bit more common sense.

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  • rixtir June 11, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    From the published account, it\’s pretty clear that Phil wasn\’t tased because he was riding without a light, as many of you seem to believe. He was tased because he resisted and assumed a defensive stance after being knocked off his bike and pushed up against a wall by a police officer. There\’s a HUGE difference between the two.

    The real questions here are (1) whether the order to stop was lawful, and (2) whether the officer\’s response to Phil\’s resistance was lawful. That is, did the officer identify himself as an officer when he ordered Phil to stop? Or was there any other indication by which Phil should have known that he was an officer– for example, was the officer in uniform and wearing a badge? Likewise, did the officer identify himself as an officer at any time before Phil was tased? Or, again, was there any other indication by which Phil should have known that he was an officer, such as a uniform and badge?

    If it wasn\’t apparent to the \”reasonable person\” that he was an officer, then my guess is the order to stop and subsequent tasing would probably not be lawful, and Phil would have no obligation to stop, and would be entitled to defend himself. On the other hand, if it was apparent to the \”reasonable person\” that he was an officer, then Phil\’s failure to stop, and subsequent resistance, would not be lawful.

    The lack of a light is only incidental to the larger issue.

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  • Tim Roth June 11, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    While I admit this situation is f@#ked, I think we all need to take a step back and realize that minus the few strange events such as this, we live in an amazing town full of courteous drivers and a wide variety of bike-positive amenities. The cops are lame often, but I think this event should be viewed in contrast to all of the positive experiences we have as cyclists every day. Get well Phil!

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  • Ian Stude June 11, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Phil – I hope you\’re feeling better and making a full recovery. I have to say I\’m really floored by this whole incident.

    This is my normal route home, so I came onto the scene several minutes after everything went down. After steering around the multitude of police cruisers and the riderless bike in the roadway, I simultaneously recognized it was your bike and that was you sitting on the ground surrounded by many darkly-clad officers. Not knowing what had happened, I stopped and approached the officers to find out if everything was okay (fearing you had been injured by a motorist somehow). It quickly became vely clear the police were detaining you, and they very nearly detained me as well. I was asked repeatedly if I \”was with him earlier\” as if to imply that I was some sort of accomplice to a crime. I was also asked intimidatingly if I had lights on my bike and why they weren\’t on. I told the officer I turned them off because I was now a pedestrian. They didn\’t seem to like my answer much, so I was directed to \”move along.\”

    Considering myself lucky, I went across the street and phoned some mutual friends in an effort to get word of your predicament to those who might be most concerned about you. I snapped a couple of photos while waiting to see if you\’d be taken away by the EMTs or PPB.

    Knowing now what happened to you, I feel extremely lucky — that could have just as easily happened to me, or my wife, or anyone else riding a bike. That\’s what makes this story so relevant and so frightening. Please forgive my saying this but, in a way, we are all sort of lucky this did happen to you because you are someone recognizable. If this had happened to someone else less known to this community, we might never have heard about it.

    Again, hope you\’re feeling better soon. -Ian

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  • mark June 11, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    \”The Police Dept. is like a crew! It does whatever it wants to do!\”

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  • mykle June 11, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    my headlight is staying OFF as long as these bike stings continue.

    clearly the POPO set up an official bike sting operation. they came fully prepared to unleash tasers and clubs on bicyclists without headlights.

    i\’m a reasonable guy but if that\’s how the POPO promotes safety, i choose danger.

    (hey Sam, your credibility is showing …)

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  • BURR June 11, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    although it hasn\’t been explicitly stated yet, I get the impression these cops were actually out doing a sting against cyclists without lights, which went horribly wrong.

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  • BURR June 11, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    I also agree with earlier comments that a significant portion of the motorcycle / traffic squad has a sort of unofficial vendetta against cyclists; I think if this can be proven beyond any sort of reasonable doubt (or whatever the standard of proof would be) these officers should be removed from this duty.

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  • Andrew June 11, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    My BS alarm is going off big time Rev. Phil!!

    This is from some one who has pursued civil suit against the Portland Police. My own altercations during feckless protest skirmishes had resulted even in worse.

    However, I am also keen to how one can use a convenient narrative in order to eclipse the context of events which otherwise might reveal the culpability of one\’s own actions in precipitating said event. If you have ever worked with kids, or had constant interactions with the police it is easier to qualify what I am getting at.

    I\’m not saying that Rev. Phil is totally at fault, just that there might be some key omissions which might better explain the overzealous reaction of the police.

    I am simply not buying it.

    Here is my advice get a light, maybe even two, and expect that when you push the boundary\’s of a cop (who right or wrong tend to have a propensity towards violent overreaction) expect that your going to get knocked down hard.

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  • rixtir June 11, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Ian, they probably asked if you had been with him earlier because he had admitted to drinking earlier. You were very fortunate to escape arrest yourself– my mother was arrested once under similar circumstances (er, not \”drinking,\” just witnessing an arrest and refusing to leave. Fortunately for her, trumped up charges and a lying cop amounted to nothing when the jury acquitted her.).

    Very timely photo, too. Good job!

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  • eugene June 11, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    The overzealous reaction of the police is the issue here. There is nothing Rev. Phil did to provoke or deserve it. There may be explanations that show why this happened, but those are not the same as justifying police behavior – and if this gets justified and Smith is not fired, this sort of thing is going to happen to more of us out on the roads.

    It would also help if Andrew @76 read the post, which explained that Rev. Phil did not initially know he was being assaulted by a cop. When he was resisting it was not clear to him that he was resisting a cop – to him it was a sudden attack out of nowhere. Folks act on instinct at that point.

    Nothing – nothing at all – justifies the cop\’s behavior. Anyone who thinks it does is sacrificing our rights, and for what? Bike lights?! Jeez.

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  • Ben June 11, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    Wow. Wow. Wow.

    While I\’m sure there were some omissions (on EVERYONE\’S part – it\’s human nature, after all), I can\’t imagine how riding without a light, or even not stopping immediately could warrant being tasered.

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  • wsbob June 11, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Can witness Diana Sartis back up the police report\’s claim that the cops lights (I\’m presuming the report means the red and blues) were on? If they were, was there some good reason the guy on the bike, Phil Sano didn\’t might not have seen them?

    So, when the cops see a guy across the street on a bicycle riding at night, without a front light on, they holler out to him to stop, and he doesn\’t, what\’s going through their mind? I wonder if anyone from the police department would dare answer that question with a comment on this thread.

    Their rationale for their actions in this incident is already apparent in the text of the police report filed. Any answer they dared to make here would probably elaborate on the thinking evident in the report. Cops seem to rely heavily on two basic tools: criteria and pretext. With those two tools and the wording of the police code and conduct manual, their call for the use of violent force to apprehend someone is drastically simplified.

    Officially, the police work for the people and answer whatever elected official has supervision over them. In the real world, many police do seem to consider their outfit a law unto itself.

    Insignificant in relation to this incident, but just look at the recent blow-up over the \’no duct tape\’ for the Rose Festival parade goers that always want to reserve street-side spots. Commissioner Randy Leanord had to read the cops the riot act just to get them to accept the task of maybe writing a few citations out to illegal duct tapers! Also, to refresh the PD\’s memory that the PD is not a law unto itself, and has to take it\’s walking papers from city council.

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  • Matthew Denton June 11, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    \”So when was the last time a car driver was stop for not have a headlight, got pulled out of the car, pushed to a wall and got tazered??? Boy That would have been front page news\”

    Couple years ago. It wasn\’t a headlight, the driver of a car ran a stop sign, and so the police killed one of the passengers. (But yes, it was all over the papers.) Vera actually fired the chief of police over it. About 10 years ago or so the O published a story that said that the police had killed 16 people that year, (it was something like 1/4 of the people that died of bullet wounds that year were caused by the police.) So, really, the police are getting a lot better than they used to be…

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  • Jordan June 11, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    I\’ve read two stories in the past week about unnecessary police taserings. One was at a peaceful protest against pesticide use in Eugene and now this. The police are out of control and clearly abusing their power and authority.

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  • Andrew June 11, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Dear Eugene, if the cops are pulling people over, they have big RED AND BLUE lights which I think are a pretty good indicator used to identify police.

    I think you are also under the misapprehension that I believe he didn\’t know who was \”attacking him\”.

    My god, I can tell all the middle-upper class white people who have never had there \”rights\” stumped on before. This is what police do and how they interact in the real world. I\’m not justifying it, or endorsing it.

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  • rixtir June 11, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Eugens, have you ever heard of Kendra James? Shot and killed by police while trying to start her car after she had been ordered out of the vehicle. The Grand Jury refused to indict the officer, and he was not fired.

    Ever hear of James Chasse? Spotted riding his bike on the sidewalk downtown (a violation), he was chased, and in the subsequent arrest, he was injured so badly he died on the way to the hospital. No criminal charges against the officers involved, no officers fired.

    Those are the ones I can remember off the top of my head, but there have been several other incidents in the last few years.

    Given that reality, you don\’t really believe that Officer Smith will be fired over a scuffle, do you?

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  • Ben P June 11, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    I was with him at Roots until just before then, and he didn\’t appear drunk at all. And even further from agro drunk like some of you\’all are implying. And you can get a DUI on a bike, so he abviously wasn\’t wasted.

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  • bjorn June 11, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    This is just one more example of a case where a taser was used in an incident that would never ever have ended up with an officer pulling his firearm had the taser not been available. Cops want us to believe that tasers save lives because they prevent shootings, but that isn\’t true. If it is a serious incident they go for the gun and shoot bullets if they just want to punish/torture someone they go with the taser. Portland should outlaw stun weapons for people and cops.


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  • Graham June 11, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    In the photo with the article there\’s one police car pretty clearly visible, but no flashing lights I can see. The only illumination would seem to be from streetlights. This after what the photographer Ian (#72) describes as a \”multitude of police cruisers\” had showed up, well after Phil was taken down.

    Ian, do you have any more pictures you could post?

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  • zilfondel June 12, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Yeah, considering the cops\’ previous track record, Phil is damned lucky to still be alive. And with all his limbs intact, too.

    I hope these incidents become fewer and fewer… although I would suggest people not to ride while intoxicated, as you can get yourself in some serious accidents, and alcohol + police = really bad news.

    Interestingly, just the other day when I was riding home, a couple of motorcycle cops said something nice to the couple on the tandem in front of me while we were stopped at the red light. I thought they were pretty friendly.

    Hopefully we can all just get along…

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  • Percy June 12, 2008 at 12:48 am

    Get well Phil,

    I find it crazy that this much force and attention is being paid to bike light safety in that area when I have watched crack dealers roam with impunity in NE portland with no lights, or any saftey gear on mt. bikes (mainly stolen) for years infront of my house everyday 24-7 and I have NEVER once seen anyone cited. This bike corridor along Fremont is heavily travelled.

    The police complain that they have no tools to fight whats going on here since the drug-free zones disappeared, but it\’s obvious that they pick and choose what they see as important and they have admitted to me that they funnel this activity here. Is it saving Phil from himself or us and our kids from bullets and drugs? I guess it depends on where you live and how much the people there are \”worth\”.

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  • rixtir June 12, 2008 at 1:18 am

    Limbs intact? Reminds me of Craig Rosebraugh (another of Stu Sugarman\’s clients) who sustained a spiral fracture of his arm during an arrest.

    The city did pay on that one, though…

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  • n8m June 12, 2008 at 1:25 am

    Way to make friends with the bicycling community PPB. I am so f\’in pissed. They better have a great explanation for this.

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  • rusl June 12, 2008 at 1:34 am

    I am very sorry to hear about this. I hope you are feeling better Phil. Right now up here in Vancouver we are still processing the death of unthreatening Robert Dziekanski at the hands of the VPD using tasers.

    This officer needs to be charged for the crime he committed. I feel very strongly that if there is to be any semblance of a rule of law this crime cannot be left unprosecuted. I don\’t know how the laws work town there but if the public attourney is not willing to file criminal charges for assault (You should ask him, legally) then you should go to civil court to pursue this. I hope there is some good legal-aid type thing (or something like we have called PIVOT) down there because that is what is needed – a strong message that this sort of abuse of power is not OK. Especially given that there seems to be a rash of this sort of violent unwarranted behavior for relatively innocuous bicycle traffic violations.

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  • girl-shawn June 12, 2008 at 4:40 am

    @ Alan #51:
    The photo is of Phil\’s left-side chest. (Were you thinking dirty thoughts? Me too. Heh…) He also had a smaller taser barb wound on his belly.

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  • zug June 12, 2008 at 5:55 am

    This is a clear case, where if the NRA had its way and we all carried guns, that cop would have deservedly been shot.

    Instead, they have tazers and get to electrocute the populace whenever they like to.

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  • John thoma June 12, 2008 at 6:18 am

    Welcome to the New Regime under Dictator G \”Dubya\” Bush. the new Police State!


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  • Anthony June 12, 2008 at 7:08 am

    And yet another reason to stay clear of that country.

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  • Amber June 12, 2008 at 7:39 am

    I wrote to Chief Sizer as well. We have drunks that party in our street almost daily. We\’ve called the cops. The Cops have watched them get into their cars and drive off drunk and have done NOTHING. They have even told us and our neighbor to stop calling them regarding said drinking/driving.
    Hm…drunk driver or no bike light? Which is more dangerous?

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  • Bill June 12, 2008 at 7:51 am

    This is the second story like this I\’ve read in the past year about Portland cops. This will really make me think twice about an upcoming bike trip to that area. We were looking forward to visiting the wine country on our tandem but like I said I\’ll really have to do my homework now.

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  • Andy June 12, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Even if the strobes were on, it\’s still possible to envision not being able to recognize the officers for who they are immediately on sight. Were they (and Diana) standing right next to the patrol car, or were they some distance away?

    Also – if you\’re riding along, and someone shouts \”Hey, Stop!\” you may not think they mean *you*. I mean, the car\’s facing the other direction, maybe you figure they\’re shouting at whoever they\’ve obviously pulled over. Unless they shine a light or wave a traffic baton in your direction, how are you to know?

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  • Sven June 12, 2008 at 7:54 am

    I was also with Rev. Phil before things got ugly. He definitely was not drunk. It sucks to have to think like this, but if the cops are going to accost and TASE cyclists for minor infractions like riding w/o a light then we aught to start riding in larger groups. Tasers can be deadly
    and I\’d rather not lose a fellow cyclist
    to one.

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  • Cynthia Brown June 12, 2008 at 7:55 am

    The over exuberance of the police force in oregon is common knowledge. Most people do not have the means to fight, and fear retaliation.

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  • SkidMark June 12, 2008 at 8:05 am

    NOTHING can justify tackling someone off their bike and tasing them, NOTHING.

    There are red and blue lights all over downtown at night, how are you supposed to know they are for you?

    I\’ll tell you how, you identify yourself as a Police officer BEFORE you make any contact with them.

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  • court June 12, 2008 at 8:05 am

    I guess the cops are pissed that they can\’t mess with bikers like they can with drivers. If you\’re on a bike, atleast in the past, you\’ve been outside of the realm of the abusive police tactics such as stopping and searching with false or zero reason. Now, it looks like that is changing. Time to put the chains on the pigs.

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  • Matt Davis June 12, 2008 at 8:08 am

    Jon, your journalism over here is really inter-stellar these days. I\’ve been scrolling through the last few posts and have been seriously impressed.

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  • Loren June 12, 2008 at 8:09 am

    I was almost struck by a car that failed to yield the right of way a month or two ago, all while a police cruiser was right behind me, and he didn\’t stop the car. This is further proof that some cops hate cyclists.

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  • Anonymous June 12, 2008 at 8:13 am

    I like how he couldn\’t tell they were cops but he COULD tell that, “without question, I could tell they enjoyed seeing me become so helpless, so weak. It was humiliating.”

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  • Johnny Payphone June 12, 2008 at 8:26 am

    This cheesy **insult deleted** is a professional police antagonizer. Don\’t believe a word of his story. Just like his last arrest, he was drunk and fucking with the cops, and they did what they had to do until he stopped fighting. That\’s what you do when the cops tell you to stop- they\’re trained to escalate if you don\’t obey. You figure out later why they want you to stop, or you get a bullet in the back- at least, you do in a *real* city. The Portland cops are creampuffs. Let this **insult delete** disrespect some Chicago cops, see if anyone even ever sees the guy again.

    I have no doubt that he both provoked and deserved a tasering.

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  • Matt Picio June 12, 2008 at 8:48 am

    SkidMark (#99):

    Murder, Rape, Fleeing the scene of a felony – Plenty of things can justify tackling them off the bike, and after the tackle, any threat to the officer\’s safety will warrant (I think justifiably) the use of a taser, which is seldom lethal.

    That said, a traffic violation never warrants something like this and the officer(s) involved used extremely poor judgement, unless there is some crucial piece of information that we\’re missing here. I empathize with your sentiment, SkidMark, but I think the execution is pure hyperbole.

    That said, the police bureau has shown another in a long serious of incidents that exhibits a set of systemic problems involving use of force, decision-making in crisis situations, and traffic stop procedures. I believe it\’s institutional in nature, and as in any large bureaucratic institution, change will likely take 20-40 years and will only happen if people at every level of the organization and in the public sphere agitate to make it happen. A related problem is getting people to step up to push for that change, due to the perfectly natural fear of reprisal.

    As a member of a family with 6 members in various law enforcement agencies, and having worked with a number of police officers in the past, I am ashamed of the way our department fails to work. It\’s only through the efforts of outstanding individuals in the police bureau that the PPB redeems itself after these incidents, and frankly, with the onslaught in public opinion ever time one occurs, I marvel at the fact that those individuals maintain their poise and professionalism and continue to do their jobs.

    I just wish the entire bureau were up to the standards of those individuals.

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  • US is nutty June 12, 2008 at 8:59 am

    #97, \”And yet another reason to stay clear of that country.\”

    My thoughts exactly.

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  • NastyGash June 12, 2008 at 9:07 am

    IMHO, this is largely the result of 7 years of the Bush administration. We have seen a steady increase in not only the number of but also the severity of excesses committed by law enforcement. It has as its root the \”war on terror\”. Law enforcement has been given a much longer lease, it is alleged to \”protect us\” from terrorists, and the leash remains lengthened for all police activities. Each time an internal investigation absolves the officers involved, all of law enforcement is emboldened and the excesses not only continue but they increment in severity. One solution would be citizen review of allegations of police excess but few communities have this. Human society makes a police force necessary and we all should be grateful for them. But if they don\’t restrain themselves, we civilians must take action. At the ballot box, by taping or photographing their activities, by speaking up, by writing to the editor, our elected representatives and the police chief, etc.

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  • econoline June 12, 2008 at 9:15 am

    It is pretty clear that Phil was not visibly intoxicated. Cops love to overcharge people and let them try to get it dropped later, if they thought there was any chance they could get him on DUI or other charges related to drunkeness they would have gone for it.

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  • Bob June 12, 2008 at 9:19 am

    Police: use good judgement!!! He was riding his BICYCLE without LIGHTS. Big deal!!

    Bicyclist: use good judgement!!! When a cop tells you to stop, do it!!!

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  • Jerrod June 12, 2008 at 9:28 am

    I hate it how it\’s becoming so \”us against them\” in Portland. It sucks how we as bikers are becoming this annoying sub-group to such a large portion of the rest of Portland. I don\’t have any miracle sollutions, but, can\’t we all just get along?

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  • Pdx97217 June 12, 2008 at 9:29 am


    Sound like this has been and predictably will be a common experience between Portland cops and bicyclists. Would Bike Portland consider collecting a database (like you have with Stolen Bikes) about these incidents?

    It\’s a powerful message to see all these incidents in one pile – that\’s when you can begin to see the patterns of institutional behavior.

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  • John Painz June 12, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Hi all. Thanks for posting this article. I wrote a letter to the Portland Mayor and to Police Chief Sizer. It\’s WAY too long to post here, but I figured I would link to it, if you care to read. Sorry Phil had to go through this… things are getting worse.


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  • Hillsons June 12, 2008 at 9:31 am


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  • DJ Hurricane June 12, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Some people seem surprised by this. That\’s the only surprising part. Rixter said it. Kendra James. James Chasse. The list goes on…

    …the courts and the politicians won\’t protect you. Who will?

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  • eriepressible™ » Excessive Force? June 12, 2008 at 9:39 am

    […] […]

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  • jaygee June 12, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Civil twilight in Portland, OR ends at 9:37 p.m. on June 11, 2008.
    Thus, if he was riding at 9:30, he was still riding before the end of legal twilight.

    All the more reason for officers to use judgment.

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  • Nate June 12, 2008 at 9:43 am

    This incident doesn\’t necessarily surprise me, but it does sadden me.

    I was stopped a few years back while riding home from work at about 10pm by the Beaverton police. I had front and rear lights on my bike and they were both on. A cop car passed me going the opposite way on Cedar Hills Blvd, then swung around and cut me off, pulling onto a side street. The cops both got out of the squad car and yelled for me to stop. I complied and asked what the problem was. They said that my taillight wasn\’t the proper color (which is true, it was green, but it was still a taillight). When they asked me for ID, I informed them that my wallet was in my backpack and that I needed to get it out to show them, but when I reached inside, one of them drew his gun and trained it on me.

    Once I assured them that I had nothing dangerous in there by panicking and dropping most of the contents of my bag on the ground, he calmed down and holstered his weapon, but kept his hand on the butt of the gun the rest of the time. They proceeded to grill me as to my purpose for riding my bike at this hour (again, it was 10PM on a Tuesday night, not that late) and where I was coming from and going to. It was only as they were getting into their car to drive off that one of them turned and told me that, oh yeah, I should have a helmet on, too.

    Seriously, go stop some real crime and leave bikers alone.

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  • bhance June 12, 2008 at 9:47 am

    @Johnny Payphone: \’professional police antagonizer\’? So he\’s got, what, a union card with the PPA local #713?

    Obvious troll is obvious.

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  • Cøyøte June 12, 2008 at 9:54 am

    I have know way of really knowing what happened in the scuffle, but tackling someone for a traffic infraction is asinine. It is a dangerous and uncivilized practice that should be addressed at a department policy level. Not only was Sano put at risk, the officer put himself at risk to enforce a law that is not even a misdemeanor.

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  • Andrew F June 12, 2008 at 9:57 am

    I had pulled up to Morrison Hotel bar just as sirens sounded nearby. Then I walked through the gas station lot on 7th & Morrison and watched from 1/2 block away. The two police had someone pinned to the ground and he was screaming to stop tasing him. The clicking of the taser could be heard for the next few minutes, along with his yelling. They must have just pulled him off his bike before my arrival. I\’m assuming it was his bike lying in the bike land on 7th, and 1 police car. Over the next 10 minutes, seven or eight more police cruisers and at least 10 more officers arrived. An ambulance as well. Many people stopped to watch, a few took phone video. Someone at the nearby bus stop seemed to have a video camera. A number of pedestrians stopped to watch. At one point, someone yelled, \”You\’re wasting my tax dollars!\” And I nodded in agreement.

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  • steve June 12, 2008 at 10:01 am

    the police would never ask before they taser…do you have a medical condition!

    also tasers, called a non-lethal enforcement action has sent many americans to their grave and they were dead forever, not temporary dead.

    police give around 8 seconds for the american citizen then they pile on the taser and they pile on multiple charges in any town usa.

    criminals are not the good guys but what do you do when the good guys with badges are more like ss gestapo agents than what we used to know as police officers?

    police have been trained to write as many offenses as possible for a single contact so that prosecutors can \”stick\” the charges but if you are a senator and drown your secretary or if you are a senator and kill a motorcyclist, or if you are richard cheney and shoot a man straight in the heart after publically admitting he drank one beer…yeah baby, one beer! then the law of the land is applied differently.

    shame on this incident, but it is police chief policy and it is aggressive police training that brings this on.

    you just need a sign on your forehead saying you might be the next president, leave me alone!

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  • Kevin C. June 12, 2008 at 10:02 am

    This is simply beyond disturbing.

    I am someone who bikes back & forth to work five days a week, and bikes home at random hours of night everyday I work.

    If, at about 1 A.M. (the time I headed home \”last night\”), somebody wearing dark clothing yelled \”Stop!\” without any further identification (as seems to be the case here), I\’m not doing anything other than pushin\’ pedal & haulin\’ ass out of that scene with all due haste.

    Should Rev. Phil have been riding without a headlight? Obviously, if one is riding down dark corridors it can be dangerous to one\’s self & potentially others. So yes, it\’s something that should be mandated and I think the city has done a wonderful thing giving away free headlights for bikes (I bought a new headlight recently…$40). Having said that, sh*t happens. I can\’t tell you how many times I\’ve had batteries die half-way home, and sadly, lights and clips for lights get stolen with alarming regularity (Did I read correctly that Rev. Phil\’s light was in his fannypack because his clip had been stolen that evening?).

    As for the actions of the PPO\’s. My goodness, this is absolutely a horrific and inexcusable (though apparently already being excused by the PPD) use of excessive force under any circumstance. Did Rev. Phil pull a gun? Was Rev. Phil doing anything that could have been conceived as so threatening to the officers that tasering became necessary, much less yanking him off a moving bicycle?

    It would be far too easy for me, living clear across the country in one of the great biking communities in America (Northampton, MA) to speculate and much has been said already, especially in regard to the long arm of the law that \”Dubya\” has stretched like those old \”Plastic Man\” cartoons…

    …Ya\’ know, shoot first and don\’t even bother with the questions because we\’ll make you a criminal one way or another (Can anyone out there say \”privatization of prisons\”?).

    Much has also been said about the two officers involved, on this I will not comment because I have never been to Portland, much less encountered either officer.

    But for sh*t\’s sake, what the hell is going through someone\’s mind when they\’re ripping someone off a moving bike and tasering the sh*t out of that person?

    I can only hope that this story and the extreme actions of these two \”officers of the law\” is not allowed to die or slip into the back pages and back chambers of the community conciousness.

    When they come for the bikers, do not stand in silence because you are not a biker. Otherwise, who will be left to speak up when they come for you?

    All My Best To Rev. Phil and all the bikers in Portland, OR, Northampton, MA and all across the world.

    Keep on pedaling!

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  • Hillsons June 12, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Police antagonizer or no, the witness confirmed the violence, right?

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  • ericbuilds June 12, 2008 at 10:15 am


    speedy recovery phil. can\’t help but think that when the victim is a documentarian and there is a witness, this might be a winnable lawsuit. best of luck phil.

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  • Brian Johnson June 12, 2008 at 10:23 am

    #1. This is another (as if we need more) demonstration of the police force\’s source of \”power\”. Fail to obey them and they can inflict physical harm, deprive one of dignity, and take away one\’s liberty by incarceration.

    #2. There have been incidents of men posing/masquerading as police that have assaulted/raped women. I wouldn\’t trust some guy in black yelling at me either.

    #3. The \”punishment\” in no way fits the \”crime\”.

    Protect and serve? Whose interests?

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  • Spencer June 12, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Dear John #109,

    A couple of weeks ago I watched the video of 5 of Chicago\’s finest, off-duty and beating a group of college students because they wanted the pool table. What made me sick was the vidoe of the students calling 911, and when the on-duty cops arrived the gave it a pass because of the invovlement of the off duty cops. This gives me a sense of the honor and professionalism exhibited by your boys in blue.

    Lets bring the discussion back to Portland. Are our Police as bad as you thugs in blue. Probably not. Could they get that bad. Sure. The key is that people get involved and ask the questions and insist on the answeres. Now that the bike community has helped to get Sam eleceted, require payback. As for an inpartial review of the actions. Put Johnathan or other respectible member of the bike community on it and see what they say.

    We have a great City and Police force. Let\’s keep it that way.

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  • Spencer June 12, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Dear John #109,

    A couple of weeks ago I watched the video of 5 of Chicago\’s finest, off-duty and beating a group of college students because they wanted the pool table. What made me sick was the video of the students calling 911, and when the on-duty cops arrived they gave it a pass because of the invovlement of the off duty cops. This gives me a sense of the honor and professionalism exhibited by your boys in blue.

    Lets bring the discussion back to Portland. Are our Police as bad as your thugs in blue. Probably not. Could they get that bad. Sure. The key is that people get involved and ask the questions and insist on the answers.

    Now that the bike community has helped to get Sam eleceted, require payback. As for an impartial review of the actions. Put Johnathan or other respectible member of the bike community on it and see what they say.

    We have a great City and Police force. Let\’s keep it that way.

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  • […] that high-powered theoretically non-lethal weapons actually lead to escalating police brutality? Here’s a story out of Portland about a man who was tackled off of his bike and tasered simply for not having a front light on it. […]

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  • OMG June 12, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Imagine if he was black and without a light.


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  • Russ June 12, 2008 at 10:49 am

    I\’m interested to see if Popo is gonna post on here.

    Johnathan, don\’t you have a \”Bat line\” to Sam Adams? I\’d sure like to see some kind of a statement about some PPD \”reorganization\” come January.

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  • Dave June 12, 2008 at 11:09 am

    It appears Mr. Sam Adams will have his work cut out for him. We can all hope he won\’t show the same negligence in these matters as his predecessors.

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  • Pete June 12, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Bill (#100): don\’t let this story be indicative of an Oregon cycling experience. We have the Gorge, Willamette Valley, Wallowas, plenty of incredibly beautiful places that welcome bicycling tourists. A few weeks ago I was riding in the Gorge and broke my chain climbing a hill. A couple on a CoMotion tandem stopped and gave me a missing link. They said they were from California and flew into PDX and assembled their tandem for a weekend trip, as they\’d done many times before in many places, Oregon being their favorite. I frequently talk with tourists who say Oregon is their absolute favorite place to visit and to ride.

    Now this is gonna get me lynched here, but why do so many riders feel they\’re above the laws? Driving to Beaverton Sunday night I saw several zoo bombers sans lights, but when a ticket is written riders cry foul – why? Now before you jump on me take my comment out of the context of police brutality or anti-cyclist bias; don\’t read into it that I justify any of that (yes, this is off-topic). I just get frustrated when cyclists whine (publicly) about being cited for not obeying laws, while often the same people scream that there\’s not enough enforcement to take bad car drivers off the road (which I agree with). That\’s called hypocrisy, and in the case of riding dark can be solved for under $20 (and you support your LBS too!).

    Back on topic, I hope the truth gets highly publicized and justice is served.

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  • BURR June 12, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Portland has reportedly been recruiting new officers from the Chicago Police force.

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  • Chandler June 12, 2008 at 11:16 am

    I agree with #36.

    Do not rely on one person in a place of power to change this. The people must do that.

    There are methods of enforcement. Apparently the people must be in the briefing room to know what the daily criteria are.

    In Spokane:
    Tasers have been used to subdue a person so well he jumped from a bridge and died which was what they were trying to prevent.

    A \”weapon\” that turned out to be a liter bottle of pop caused the officer to choke the man to death in the market the pop was being purchased.

    In Seattle:
    Drug addled people trying to keep others (police) away will be shot to death. The officer in the shooting had done this previously.

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  • rixtir June 12, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Once more:

    Phil was NOT tackled for riding without a light.

    Phil WAS tackled for failing to obey an order to stop. (At issue: Did Phil understand that the person isuing the order was addressing him? Did Phil understand that the person issuing the order is a police officer).

    Phil Was NOT tased for riding without a light.

    Phil WAS tased for resisting/fighting back after being tackled. (At issue: Did Phil understand that the person who tackled him is a police officer?)

    The numerous posts in this thread that portray this incident as a \”cyclist tased for riding without lights\” are neither accurate nor credible, and when we portray this incident in hysterical terms that bear only a passing resemblance to what actually happened (\”cyclist tased for riding without lights\”) we\’re only damaging our own credibility– and Phil\’s case. Let\’s stick to the facts, and ask the right questions, and stop wasting our energies focusing on something that didn\’t actually happen.

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  • Scott Jones June 12, 2008 at 11:25 am

    This makes me sick. I sit here and think that next time this could be me. I ride with lots of light and still almost get hit or yelled at for not being seen. We have that slogan, \”See and Be Seen\”. I do my best, but so do drivers.

    The actions of the \”Police Officers\”, if that is what you can call them, was utterly and totally uncalled for. I can\’t see where it at all warranted any of it. It began with the cop tackling Phil off the bike. That is what escalated everything that followed. That is what we need to question first and foremost. So the first question I ask the unionized criminal, oops I mean \”Police Officer\” is why was it necessary to tackle a cyclist off his bike? For failure to have a head light! ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!!!!!

    If you were able to take a few steps and take him off his bike, then I highly doubt he was fleeing a police officer. Not to mention how many cops are overweight and out of shape. I\’m surprised that this guy had the energy and strength to \”chase down\” a rogue cyclist without a head light.


    Shed the black tarp of the Police Union. Make it transparent. Only then will the Chief of Police, Mayor Potter, and Mayor Elect Adams begin to watch what happens closely. Secondarily, f we could make the Chief of police an elected Official, we might see how long they would last in office after crap like this!

    Its just senseless!

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  • Pete June 12, 2008 at 11:36 am

    rixtir (#140): you\’re entirely right. Just wanted to vent on the lights thing because it ticked me off to see it Sunday night, but sorry it\’s off-topic. Your point is dead on.

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  • SeditiousCanary June 12, 2008 at 11:49 am

    My lawyer has advised me to make an ass out of myself.

    This one is pretty gray. On one hand, we have a cop who is known to ticket cyclists, and on the other, an intoxicated cyclist who is known to have run ins with police, was braking a city ordinance, tried to flee when asked to stop, and then resisted being detained when he didn\’t stop.

    So the order goes about like this:
    Riding without a light
    Cop spots you without a light and asks you to stop
    You make a run for it
    Cop tries to stop you using reasonable force (Really, try to stop someone riding by without tossing them from the bike)
    After being stopped, you get up, and resist further

    Seriously? Hmm, can\’t think of any reason why the cop would have tazered him.

    I am not an advocate for the police state, but as a rule, people don\’t try to run from cops unless they have something on them they don\’t want to cops to find, a warrant on them, are in the process of committing a crime, or something akin to this. Cops have pretty wide latitude to stop people who run from them for this reason. Cops get a pass on this one.

    I\’m not saying it couldn\’t have been handled better, but the police didn\’t do anything out of line here.

    Besides, I\’m sure that any booze in Phil\’s system was that new kind of booze that heightens your perception, and records an audio and visual log which rivals the accuracy of six well positioned HiDef video cameras. He couldn\’t possibly be forgetting, omitting, or been oblivious to anything which happened.

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  • wsbob June 12, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Rixter, comment #140, exactly right.

    Sano, the guy on the bike, says he wasn\’t sure the guy dressed \”..all in black..\” clothing was a cop. That might not be unreasonable. I think of two outfits the Portland cops like to wear; the one with the blue shirt, bullet proof vest underneath. And the other one that looks like a stormtrooper outfit; all black, nothing reflective like a badge on it.

    About the police car lights, here\’s an excerpt from the O article linked above in the lead story to this thread:

    \”But Cathe Kent, a police spokeswoman, said Sgt. Erin Smith and Officer Ron Hoesly only used the Taser when Sano became combative.

    She said the pair stopped the first bicyclist because she was riding in dark clothing without using a light. The officers were in uniform and turned on their patrol car\’s lights to alert traffic while they talked to the woman, police said.\” Joseph Rose, Oregonian, June 11

    If that account is accurate, is there some reasonable explanation Sano would not have been able to see the lights and make an association between them and the guy in black approaching him from across the street?

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  • rixtir June 12, 2008 at 11:49 am

    In addition to my comments on this incident, some common-sense advice for everybody:

    1) If you\’re riding at night, and you don\’t have a light, get a light. It\’s both required under the law, and it\’s the courteous thing to do, because it will help others see you, whether they be drivers, other cyclists, or pedestrians. If you insist on riding without one (not the case with Phil, by the way), you\’re just being a jerk, and you SHOULD be ticketed.

    2) If a police officer orders you to stop, STOP. Be polite and cooperate. Do not resist the officer, and do not fight back.

    You\’re not required to stop just because some random stranger yells \”stop,\” but you had better assess who\’s yelling \”stop\” before you make your decision, and you had better be certain that the person is not a cop before you fight back.

    Cops are trained to always maintain control of a situation, and if you try to wrest control from them, they will escalate as high as they need to to maintain control– even if that means killing you. Even if the initial reason for stopping you was a trivial offense.

    That\’s the reality of a police stop, and no amount of letter-writing is going to change that reality. If you want to avoid encountering that reality, polite and cooperative will almost always work.

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  • Russ June 12, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    I think the PPD needs to change their recruitment page headline to:

    Threaten, Abuse, Kill.

    For every Portland Police officer, there is a complainant.

    Join us and taze the next citizen.

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  • Me2 June 12, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    O-Live has another update to the story with quotes from Rev Phil. This one focuses on the fact that the Cops didn\’t ID themselves.

    \”Hey buddy. We need to talk to you.\”

    That\’s what officer Smith said when he first saw Phil.

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  • DJ Hurricane June 12, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Is this how Portland Police Bureau officers are trained to identify themselves?

    \”Hey buddy. We need to talk to you.\”

    Nope. Erin Smith knows better.

    Could this whole thing have been avoided if the standard procedure had been followed?

    Yes, according to Phil. And also according to the PPB\’s training manual and the law.

    Why do you think they\’re trained to explicitly state that they are POLICE in the first place?

    Of course given more time you might make the connection between the black-clad person coming at you and the police cruiser you passed a moment ago, but it was a split-second thing.

    If the police are entitled to deference in their split-second judgments, why aren\’t citizens?

    And why do you think they train them to identify themselves explicitly as POLICE in the first place?

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  • Rommel June 12, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    When the same kinds of escalations happen repeatedly with the same person, and different officers, the question occurs to me that perhaps we\’re dealing with someone who has serious authority issues and essentially provokes conflict. Certainly Phil can cop an attitude (pun intended) on occasion.

    I am no apologist for cops, they overstep their authority and betray the public confidence too often, but they are not automatically the bad guys either. The idea that one (or more) officers could not physically subdue Phil (if that was really needed) without employing such a device means one of two things; either an indictment of these officers level of proficiency or a clear case of excessive force . . . which is probably why the DA won\’t touch it.

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  • wsbob June 12, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Me2, thanks for that note on the O update.

    Some interesting excerpts from that update:

    \”But Sano said he had already rode past the patrol car\’s flashing lights on Seventh Avenue when he heard the two men calling out to him. The officers\’ wore \”motor-cycle style outfits,\” not the blue shirts usually worn by police in squad cars, Sano said.

    \”They looked kinda like cops,\” he said.\”

    \”A police report said Sano was riding without his hands on the handlebars. When he refused to slow down, Smith reached out to stop Sano and they began to struggle, police said. Sano reportedly refused to comply with any of the officers\’ orders and continued to resist.\”

    \”Sgt. Brian Schmautz, a police spokesman, said it was unclear from Smith\’s report whether he and Hoesly identified themselves to Sano as officers.

    Smith\’s reports say the officers were standing outside their unmarked gray patrol car with red and blue lights flashing in the grill when they saw Sano ride past, upright, without his hands on his handle bars.\”

    \”Schmautz said the officers\’ uniforms had reflective gear, badge patches, name tags and \”POLICE\” in large letters police on their backs. The report said the street was well-lit.\” Joseph Rose, Oregonian, June 12

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  • Russ June 12, 2008 at 1:01 pm


    Read the first sentence you wrote and then check out post #26.

    Further perusing through the PPD recruitment web page and reading the testimonials from Portland Police about how \”smooth the transition\” is from the military to the police department tells me pretty much what\’s wrong with the PPD.

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  • Russ June 12, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    When the same kinds of escalations happen repeatedly with the same officers, and different people, the question occurs to me that perhaps we\’re dealing with someone who has serious authority issues and essentially provokes conflict.


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  • Donna June 12, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    RE Post #138: Great, just great. Bringing in violent, paramilitary-style LEOs from Los Angeles in the 1990\’s apparently wasn\’t enough. Now Portland is actively seeking them from some of the most corrupt, tainted police forces in the United States? Welcome to what many of us Midwestern and East Coast transplants fled, boys and girls…

    And they actually wonder why they can\’t get people *from* Portland interested in being a police officer? Amazing.

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  • joe June 12, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    At the very least, this seems to be another example of excessive force.

    The PPB has their online manual here

    Page 519 (Section 1051) covers the use of tasers.
    an excerpt:
    \”Consideration should be given before deployment on fleeing suspects based on
    the following factors:
    a. The severity of the crime.
    b. The threat to other officers or citizens.
    c. The subject’s known history of violent behavior.\”

    It will be interesting to see what sort of disciplinary action(s) will be taken against the officer who demostrated this lack of understanding.

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  • mad mike June 12, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    I\’ve been pulled over 3X by cops whilst riding my bike. And all 3 have been by those on motorcycles. I\’m sure there\’s no vendetta or anything and that this is purely coincidental.

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  • rixtir June 12, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Joe, they didn\’t tase him because he was a \”fleeing suspect.\” They tased him because he fought back after he was tackled (which he may or may not have a valid defense for).

    If you\’re expecting disciplinary actions based on something that didn\’t happen, you\’re only setting yourself up for disappointment.

    On the other hand, if they didn\’t follow the guidelines for tasing suspects who are resisting (and perhaps more to the point, if they were not readily identifiable as police officers, or if they did not give Phil time to respond to their orders), those are the kinds of deviations from the manual you will want to track for disciplinary action.

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  • Mary June 12, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Please people – grow up.

    Be smart – know what is going on around you. This guy got what he asked for.
    First – he was without a light – stupid!
    Second – didn\’t stop when told and was fighting – DUMB
    Third – Riding your bike while drunk – this is unexpectable!

    You are all first to blame but who will you call next time you fall off your bike – the police, who most of the time have to look at dead cyclists. I am sure they would like you to follow the safety rules so they could skip that part of their job.

    Your attitude towards the police – only makes you look guilty. Follow the rules and we can all play nice.

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  • Donna June 12, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    So Mary, when strange men you can\’t identify tell you to stop and get off your bike, you just assume they must be police and do exactly that?

    Wow, just wow.

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  • rixtir June 12, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Actually, Mary, the police are less than useless when we \”fall off our bikes.\” Ask Bret Jarolimek. Ask Siobhan Doyle. Ask Kyle Egertson.

    Consider the possibility that the police would have a better image, and more respect, if they actually did their jobs when cyclists \”fall off their bikes,\” instead of playing their stereotypic al \”blame the victim\” games. Perhaps they\’d have our thanks if they were partners with the community, rather than a paramilitary. Perhaps they\’d be treated as professionals if they behaved as professionals, starting with not showing up here to throw gasoline on the fire.

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  • Allison June 12, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    When someone, unsolicited, tells me all about how \”I got tased by the police for doing absolutely nothing\” – it reminds me of my niece wailing that her brother pushed her \”for no reason at all!\”

    He was drunk, at his own admission. Can we even trust his interpretation of the events?

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  • Donna June 12, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Perhaps not, Allison, but there\’s nothing about that witness *who doesn\’t even know Rev. Phil* being anything but sober.

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  • girl on a bike June 12, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Donna, save yourself the breath. I have a big feeling Mary here hasn\’t come close to a bike, except probably with her bumper, in years.

    Yes, Mary, we will all start following the \”safety rules\” (because everyone here who is outraged must ride their bikes exactly like Phil does, right?) so the cops can skip the part of their job that includes violently abusing non-violent offenders.


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  • rixtir June 12, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    You know, I haven\’t seen anything that indicates that Phil was drunk. He admitted to drinking earlier, but that\’s not the same thing as being drunk. Given what happened that night, the fact that a field sobriety test was administered, but no DUI charges filed, indicate that Phil was probably not drunk.

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  • Donna June 12, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Maybe, maybe not, girl on a bike. There are people in this world who automatically assume that any time anyone has a negative interaction with police, that they must have brought it upon themselves without question.

    Of course, this assumption quickly disappears when something untoward happens to *them*.

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  • Donna June 12, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Not that I want anyone to think I\’m not grateful for honest and professional police officers…

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  • rixtir June 12, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    My mistake, he wasn\’t given a field sobriety test. Still, I\’d think that if the officers suspected that Phil was DUI, they would have administered a field sobriety test. The fact that they didn\’t administer one still indicates that Phil was probably not drunk.

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  • rixtir June 12, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    I think that\’s the point, Donna.

    Portlanders WANT honest, professional police officers. The kind who don\’t blame the victim at a crash scene. The kind who enforce the laws fairly and evenly. The kid who don\’t pepper spray babies. The kind who correct their mis-steps, instead of employing a PR guy to spin lies about every mis-step. The kind who are valued and contributing members of a community policing partnership, rather than jack-booted paramilitary thugs.

    Those kind of honest, professional officers would be welcomed members of the community.

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  • froot dawg team beer June 12, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    i was sitting next to phil for about two hours before incident and i believe he had 2 beers! i also have partied with phil and have seen him drunk. not that night not even close!!!

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  • thomas June 12, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    The lesson I\’ve learned is: Stay away from police officers and you won\’t get tazed.

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  • Diogo June 12, 2008 at 4:28 pm


    I think you are gettin too technical and buying the cops\’ excuses for their unjustifiable behavior.

    Who says who was tackled because he didn\’t stop???

    My view of the fact is that they tacked and tasered him because they were given authority to do so (see \”Milgram experiment\”), and the leading cause for it was the fact that he didn\’t have a light.

    All the technicalities do is to create a cloud over the real drama here and make it seems like average person\’s outrage is misguided.

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  • Diogo June 12, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Every society gets the violence it deserves, and the Seditious Canaries, the Johny Payphones and Andrews out there are the reason this country is becoming a police state: people so submissive and mediocre that they resent anyone who will not subject to or defy authority.

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  • bahueh June 12, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    anyone know how fast Phil was traveling?
    I ask simply because wind noise across your ears can block out a lot of what is going on around you..
    if was traveling over 15mph, he may very well have not heard the cops say anything at first…
    just sayin…

    Mary….stick it. you don\’t know what you\’re talking about. there are plenty of cyclists out there, including myself, obeying each and every traffic law…

    would you like an officer of the law running at your and tackling you for jay walking next time? or how about not signaling in your car (or can I assume you\’re a perfect driver each and every minute behind the wheel?) talking on your cell phone? (that\’s more inhibitive to driving than drinking is)

    is this what I can expect on each and every ride home after work from now on? being tackled and tased for being delayed at work without a bike light some night?

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  • Rudy June 12, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Hmmm… police being violent — and they were not even provoked. Familiar story — until you get thrown around by the police, you always think \”that won\’t happen to me\”, \”police don\’t do that\”, then it happens. Your eyes are opened (and you arms, legs, back are sore). Yes, cops get head trips — not all, but enough.

    Hope you feel better, Phil.

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  • Donna June 12, 2008 at 5:20 pm


    Rixtir is a lawyer, and so he\’s going at this from the perspective of what would be likely to happen in an investigation and the kinds of things they would consider.

    It\’s always good to have someone like him around – he helps us get an idea of what would be considered in a police investigation or court. He keeps us grounded.

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  • rixtir June 12, 2008 at 5:26 pm


    It\’s not \”technical,\” it\’s addressing what happened. If we allow ourselves to believe that what happened is inexplicable, it will mean that nobody will be able to learn from this incident (except for the ridiculous and unrealistic notion that cops just run up to you in the middle of the night and tackle you and taser you without warning and for no reason), the truth of what actually happened, if there were procedural violations and/or gray areas, will get lost in a sea of manufactured hysteria, and our ability to effect change in the event there were procedural violations or gray areas will be diminished, because we will be giving in to the immediate gratification of talking about what our fantasies instead of what actually happened that night.

    I\’ll agree with you on one point: Focusing on what actually happened obscures the drama (read: theatrics). Just like focusing on the drama obscures what actually happened.


    This is my point about giving in to talking about fantasy depictions of what happened (recognizing that some people, maybe everybody, is attempting to score rhetorical points). Police behavior is not inexplicable, despite the rhetoric. The police tackled Phil when he failed to stop. Generally, if you cooperate with police when they give you directions, they\’re not going to respond with violence. See post 145. There\’s a simple solution to ease your fears about being delayed at work without a light, too: Get a light. They\’re not THAT expensive, you know. You would spend more on entertainment for one evening than a basic light would cost, and it\’s only polite to let other people on the road know you\’re there.

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  • Cøyøte June 12, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Many of you are getting caught up in details that you can never know, was he drunk? Combative? Did the police identify themselves?

    The real question should be, is this the kind of policing we want? Is it reasonable to tackle a person from a moving bicycle to enforce an equipment violation even if he was trying to get away?

    It is not the police force I want. PPD is so ready to escalate to violence in the simplest of situations it is sickening. What if he was deaf? What if he was an old lady, is it ok to tackle her? A little kid? What would have happened if he got away? Would chaos rein the streets?

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  • Russ June 12, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    “That won’t happen to me”

    Fact is, it never has, and probably never will. I’m a old(er) white guy, fit, with a very short haircut, no piercings/tats, and I don’t dress “weird” or “ratty”. I only use that to point out that Cops look at me and assume that we have many commonalities in lifestyle and values. I’ve had plenty of very nice, pleasant conversations with police officers either in connection with my job or socially. When I’m doing something on the minor end of illegal like jaywalking or riding without a light, they either pay no attention or give me a friendly warning.

    Since I’ve lived all my life close in to a city, I’ve also seen cops walk right by me and hammer someone up against a wall who looks “weird” or “ratty” and then starts digging in the persons pockets and threatening the person’s girlfriend with arrest for prostitution when she objects. It’s the kind of entertainment you just don’t get in the suburbs, and part of the reason why there will always be “Marys” who just can’t believe cops ever behave unprofessionally and that anyone assaulted by a police officer must deserve it.

    The fact is that we all make value judgments based very quickly on how closely the appearance of another mirrors our own idealized view of ourselves or that of other stereotypes. For instance: when I see a middle manager dressed for work, I immediately think to myself “puppet and tool”. When a police officer sees a Food not Bombs archetype he/she thinks “Anarchist and Cop-hater”. The difference is which of us has the authority to behave violently towards those we loath. Not that I would ever taze a guy in a Men’s Warehouse suit with a poly blend tie just for being one disgracefully wasteful plane ride away from an amazing family vacation at Disney World with his lovely wife and spawn. I’m just a peacenik like that I guess.

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  • Hillsons June 12, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Russ\’ comment is ironic now that Popo didn\’t just reply, he wrote a whole article.

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  • john c. wilson June 12, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Multiple tasering is not cause for dismissal. It is cause for criminal prosecution. It is one small step shy of attempted homicide. At the minimum it\’s felonious aggravated assault. These cops, like the many who have assaulted me in my 50 years of cycling, deserve a long term in prison.

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  • rixtir June 12, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Coyote, it\’s extremely unrealistic to think that the police will let someone ignore an order to stop. It might happen, for example, if they get an urgent call just as the person is refusing to stop, but generally, they\’re not going to just shrug theor shoulders and say \”Oh well, maybe next time.\” There are several reasons for that.

    One reason is that word would soon get around that the police will jot give chase if you refuse to stop. In Oregon, a bicycle is a vehicle, which means tat word would get around to other vehicle operators (i.e., motorists) that the cops just give up if you refuse to stop.

    Another reason is that they don\’t know who you are, or why you\’re refusing to stop. In your mind, you\’re thinking \”I\’m just somebody riding a bike without a light, it\’s not worth chasing me down.\” In their mind, they\’re wondering \”Why is that person fleeing? Did s/he just commit a crime? Is there a warrant out for this person? I\’d better find out why that person won\’t stop.\”

    Related to that, you ask is it reasonable to use force to enforce an equipment violation even if he was trying to get away. Looked at from the perspective of an officer who is faced with a fleeing suspect, would it be reasonable for the police to let a violent felon escape (let\’s say somebody who just committed a rape), just because the police only think they are stopping him for a minor traffic violation?

    There\’s also the authority factor: Like it or not, cops are granted authority by \”the people,\” and are charged with exercising that authority to maintain order. That grates against some people who dislike authority, but that\’s how it is. And you know what? That type of job tends to attract people who want to exercise authority to enforce the law. Put those two together, and you\’ve got somebody who has authority, and who doesn\’t want you questioning their authority to stop you, or their authority to place you under arrest. And as I noted in post 145, they are trained to maintain control of a situation, and to escalate if you try to wrest control from them.

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  • anonymous June 12, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    @Robert Dobbs #35

    I remember a while back reading about a cyclist who spit nonchalantly, and it happened to land near a Hummer, and was then assaulted.

    Remember the outrage?

    Check the blog today. It appears that both parties, including the cyclist, acknowledged that they acted inappropriately. I didn\’t see any mention of charges being filed, only a small monetary payment made to charity.

    I\’m pretty sure if the incident went down as described, there would have been charges files.

    So no, I don\’t trust the data we\’ve heard yet. We\’ve heard from one person who claimed he was attacked while doing nothing wrong, and another who is hardly objective (she was being reprimanded for her unlawful behavior).

    Her story is doubtful to say the least. She claims she was 50 feet away, yet the officer who was talking to her took two steps toward him to pull him off his bike.

    Did the officer then drag him 50 feet before tasering him? That\’s kinda weird.

    So no, I don\’t trust what we\’ve heard so far as \”the truth\”. I think it\’s likely a gross distortion of the truth.

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  • james boring June 12, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Since when did the portland police start doing this? (I\’m feeling good about moving away!)

    Clean and Safe used to hassle us downtown (for riding on the sidewalks), but pdx police NEVER did. Perhaps the critical mass rides have elevated their focus on bike riders…

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  • Russ June 12, 2008 at 6:58 pm


    Nope, not ironic. Honest question, and I was genuinely curious if he would post and hoped he would. I\’m happy to see he got a whole article.

    Problem is the PPD isn\’t full of guys like Pickett. I\’m quite willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he wouldn\’t drag a slow moving bicyclist off the back of his bike for not having a light, and not following/understanding directions \”quickly enough\”.

    The perception that someone is not complying, or not doing it fast enough just sends some cops into a rage. I\’ve seen it.

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  • Brad June 12, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    I\’ll wait for the details of the investigation on this one. If this was a random rider getting the treatment, I\’d tend to believe it more quickly.

    Since a shameless self-promoter and well known bike provocateur was involved (what are the odds?!!) along with two cops known for previous run ins with bikes, I tend to think that this was not as random as it seems.

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  • Cøyøte June 12, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    rixtr, the US has incarcerated a higher percentage of its population than any other country in the history of the world. If you cannot see that tackling someone of a bicycle is a part of something that is wrong with the laws we have made and the way they are enforced, I think we have little to discuss. There are many better ways to police a community than beating them.

    However, I will give a shot. I am sure you would agree that if Sano was fifteen yards down the street, when the cops yelled \”stop\”, they would not be justified in shooting him?

    Anytime you initiate aggressive physical contact with a stranger, the outcome is unpredictable. The cop took Sano down did it because he thought he could win. I do not want my cops to be gladiators. I want them to enforce the law to the best of their ability. That cop should have had a reasonable doubt that Sano did not understand, did not hear, or did not recognize him as police officer. Instead he cowboyed up and slammed him to the ground like a scumbag. You that is ok with you – whatever.

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  • Russ June 12, 2008 at 8:38 pm


    This site is getting pretty damn popular when even the police come here to anonymously defend themselves.

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  • Brooks June 12, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    It looks as though the lower SE Belmont/Morrison neibourhood is turning into a ghetto. We\’ve got armed gangs of ruthless thugs dressed in blue uniforms going around beating & electrocuting innocent civilians! This dangerous gang goes by the street name \”PPB\”!

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  • Russ June 12, 2008 at 10:13 pm


    I\’ve seen plenty of traffic cops trail cars for several blocks and give them ample warning to pull over with sirens and loudspeaker.

    Phil wasn\’t gonna get away if they didn\’t pull him off his bike to the ground right then and by all accounts they didn\’t give him much time to react to the order.

    For your \”fleeing subject\” theoretical to be applicable here, there would have to be a standard for \”fleeing\” that I don\’t think is met. If Phil getting a little more than abreast of the officer at a slow speed is \”fleeing\”, then it would be appropriate for an officer to run a car off the road if it doesn\’t pull over a half a block after he turns the siren goes on.

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  • Dead Baby Steph June 12, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    Hey Rev,I know you. I believe what you say is true, not only because I trust you, but because most cops think they can do whatever the hell they want and they are above the law. It\’s our word against theirs and they always win. I hope you sue those cock suckers. Please.

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  • rixtir June 12, 2008 at 10:42 pm


    I haven\’t said that it\’s OK for the cop to react the way he did. I\’ve said that it\’s unrealistic to expect that the cop will just let someone flee an order to stop.

    Now, I\’ll bring her name up again, because this just isn\’t sinking in for some people.

    Kendra James.

    She was a passenger in a car that was pulled over. While the driver and other passengers were being arrested, she slid in behind the wheel and attempted to flee. After she ignored the officer\’s command to stop, she was shot dead. The officer explained that he shot her because he feared for his life as she was attempting to drive away.

    That\’s reality, and people who refuse to understand that reality risk their lives in police stops. When a cop says stop, you risk an escalation in tactics if you do anything other than stop. And once more, the cops will escalate as high as they have to to control the situation, including the use of lethal force, if you escalate your resistance.

    Stating the facts of the situation is intended to help people who aren\’t used to encountering the world outside of their own private reality. Stating the facts isn\’t intended as an endorsement of police violence.

    Now, back to those words you\’ve been putting in my mouth (it\’s OK with me that the officer cowboyed up)..

    Lethal force is not justified (that is, lawful) unless the suspect presents a danger to the life of the officer or another person. So in your hypothetical, shooting Phil as he attempted to flee wouldn\’t be justifiable. However, assuming that he would be ignoring lawful orders to stop, forcing him off the road would be a justifiable (that is, lawful) use of force.

    And that is exactly what the officer is claiming happened. Phil ignored an order to stop, and the officer forced him off the road.

    Phil has a different perspective. And you know what? Their differing versions of what happened aren\’t even contradictory. The officer attempted to get Phil to stop. Phil stopped pedaling, but continued to roll, and looked at the approaching officer. That\’s not inconsistent with hearing somebody say something, and wondering what it is they were saying, or if they were saying it to him, or even wondering who it was that was approaching him. In other words, neither the officer\’s account nor Phil\’s account contradict the possibility that Phil either didn\’t understand that a police officer was issuing an order, or that Phil was not responding to the order as quickly as the officer expected– something that would be entirely understandable from either perspective.

    What is questionable about all of this– that is, what raises doubts about the lawfulness of the arrest– is whether the officer gave a lawful order. There\’s no question that he had a right to stop Phil, once he saw Phil in violation of the law. However, if he was next to an unmarked car, and not in a regular police uniform, and not wearing a badge, there\’s some question about how recognizable his status as a police officer was. Furthermore, he didnt identify himself as a cop, and he didn\’t even say \”Stop.\” He said something like \”Hey buddy, we need to talk.\” Under those circumstances, would a reasonable person interpret what happened as a police officer\’s lawful order to stop? Would a reasonable person understand that the subsequent tackle was performed by a police officer in performance of his duty? If not, then a reasonable person would be entitled to defend himself. Was he warned that they were police officers, and were about to tase him? Or did they just open up before he even knew they were officers (and therefore, before he had an opportunity to comply)?

    These are the questions that need to be asked, and fantasy scenarios about what the world should be like, according to each individual person\’s dream list, (or alternatively, setting up and then knocking down straw men attributed to me) just get in the way of asking the real questions.

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  • rixtir June 12, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Russ, I\’m not saying the officers behaved appropriately. I\’m saying that people who believe that officers won\’t force you to stop if you fail to obey an order to stop don\’t understand how it works.

    Of course they need to give you adequate time to respond– and that is one of the questions that is raised by this incident.

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  • DJ Hurricane June 12, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Russ (#186): Rixter is not a cop. He\’s a thoughtful and knowledgeable individual.

    Kendra James. Look up her story.

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  • Brooks June 13, 2008 at 12:01 am

    I have a [somewhat] similar story i wanted to add here.

    Two monthes ago i had just bought a bike to accomodate a new work schedule. I\’m riding it to work one night when i get stopped by a police officer. I didn\’t have a light on my bike either. So after wasting, maybe, 5-6 minutes of my time he let\’s me go with a \”warning\” (criminalization).
    I buy a light the very next day (responsible). But two weeks later, some low-life steals it off my bike. It was a [fairly cheap] light i got from FredMeyers. I thought about going to an actual bike store & getting something where i can detact the light itself from the mount; something, maybe, that was small enough to put in my pocket.
    Then i read THIS story here, where Mr. Phil Sano had the damn mount snatched right off his bike! Which is why he was carring the light on his person.

    So basically this is the situation we\’re in, people:
    Put a light on your bike, & some goddamn crackhead or whatever will come along & steal it. Think you\’re smart – get a detactable light with a mount that stays on the bike. And said drug addict/low-life will steal THAT too. Get caught on the street without a light, BECAUSE THEIVES KEEP GODDAMN STEALING THEM, & you get the shit beat out of you by the police, electrocuted, & thrown in jail!

    You know, i\’m starting to wonder whether the REAL criminals & the police are in cahoots with one another & that perhapes (((WE))) are the true targets!

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  • Russ June 13, 2008 at 12:20 am

    #186 was directed at the anonymous poster in #181 who may also be the person posting on the \”spitting on the Hummer\” thread. (Oh, my brain)

    I know who rixtir is.

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  • Anonymous June 13, 2008 at 12:47 am

    Here\’s an idea: use a headlight when you ride at night

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  • Percy June 13, 2008 at 12:57 am

    Johnny payphone# 109

    Portland does\’nt want to be Chicago, NewYork,or Philly- we like our \”cream puff\” cops and we like a community response that encourages accountability…maybe you should move back to a real fucking city where you can be shot in the back by the police for no reason and nobody will ever know why..because that is soooo REAL and HARD. Mr. \”badass\” real city idiot-get the fuck outta here. We don\’t need the police corruption and all the other crap that facilitates this kind of abuse including Phil\’s which is unwarranted. DEAL with who we are fool.

    Your post really did\’nt even need a response it was so dumb, but because I\’m drunk and a professional police antagonist and you seem like a cop I responded.

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  • Streetsblog » Today’s Headlines June 13, 2008 at 6:06 am

    […] by Ben Fried McCain Wants to Investigate Oil Companies and Traders (Sun)Gas Hits $5/Gal at Some City Pumps (News)Fuel Prices May Put Some Car Services Out of Business (Riverdale Press)17 Cops Will Handle Traffic For Red Hook Ikea (Brooklyn Paper)Manhattan CB1 Approves Bike Path Through City Hall Park (Tribeca Trib)Elderly Woman Hit By Van Outside Woolworth Building, in Critical Condition (Post)State Pols Question Need for More Stadium Subsidies (NYT, Sun, News)MTA Has Paid Out $1.1B in Claims Since 1996, Comptroller Finds (City Room, Post)Gene Russianoff Answers Questions About Transit (City Room)Portland Cyclist Tackled and Tasered by Police (Bike Portland) […]

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  • mike June 13, 2008 at 6:15 am

    The city should fire these cops and charge them with assault. They also need their asses sued bigtime. They need to be taught a lesson.

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  • Jeremy June 13, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Any update after Phil\’s arraignment yesterday?

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  • militant angeleno June 13, 2008 at 10:03 am


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  • ahpdx June 13, 2008 at 10:10 am

    I can\’t believe all this started from riding without a light. If only the dude would have listened to the officers all of this could have been avoided. The dude should be embarrased but no he is outraged that he can\’t do whatever he wants and ignore the law. How arrogant!

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  • One Less :( June 13, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    This exert was posted on another article about this, by a cop…. \”And indeed, sometimes cops make bad calls and that comes out too\”. Really, when does this happen? Oh, that\’s right a public relations person gets in front of a bunch of microphones or in front of a computer and says a few words and that\’s it. There is no Officer coming forward saying \”Sorry, I was wrong.\” In todays society Police, like a lot of other professions, can\’t admit fault or they face legal action. They are taught never to say sorry!

    I\’m sorry, there are a few things here that really bother me about this incident, the police report, witness report, and overall actions of officer.

    1- Cops in all black, at night, unmarked car with lights flashing in the grill, and the only identifiable markings that this guy was a cop is a Velcro patch ON HIS BACK that says police.

    2- Inexcusable use of force for a missing headlight. (This IS the reason why the cop tackled him, everything else comes from this action).

    3- Sure there is more information, but we won\’t get it (or likely the truth) until someone way up the pay scale from these officers looks it over and corrects \”grammatical errors\”.

    4- A cyclist, traveling at any speed, will have a hard time hearing someone yell at them. Its called air passing over your ears as you ride. If you yell at a moving car and you are standing still the driver will NOT hear you. Same goes for a bicyclist. That is why cop cars have those fancy megaphones built in to tell you to pull over.

    5- Is it PPB policy to stop more than one person at a time? Would a cop jump in there car after a speeding car while already pulling someone over for speeding hoping they would stay put until you got back? One traffic stop is enough to handle.

    Let me explain a few things I think have not been brought up or discussed yet. When Phil is tackled by a person, he thinks is a person attacking him, Phil immediately is in a fight and flight response mode. He is protecting himself from whatever has just attacked him. This is a normal reaction that any of you, including the cop, would do. The cop is also protecting himself from what he sees at this point as an aggressive \”resisting\” person. This is not the case though. If the cop identified himself after the initial struggle, it is unlikely that Phil heard him say it or understood because of the adrenaline and other things going on in his head. Then came the taser and everything else.

    Sounds like this cop had it out for cyclists this particular night. It is a sad place we live in where the people who are supposed to protect us end up being the ones we must also watch out for. Looks like on my rides I\’ll have to be more careful to dodge the cops now too.

    The picture that makes me laugh the most is the one near the end of the whole thing though, where there are close to a dozen cop cars with lights going. All for a guy riding without a light. I LOVE IT!

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  • Diogo June 13, 2008 at 12:42 pm


    My background is in law as well (even though I’m not a lawyer in this country). By drama I don’t mean theatrics – I mean the real human drama of being attacked in the middle of the night. Lawyers are so used to put the text of the law and what the procedure on a court or investigation would be, above the human aspect of events.

    When you say that people “don’t understand how it works” – what is the “it” here? You can choose to “understand” how “it” works by reading the law, or you can understand how “it” works by keeping in mind that these are real people here, even though some of them are wearing uniform. In my opinion, the second is much more valuable, because good rhetoric can make anything fit the first. For instance: the law says cops can use force to make someone stop. How many incredibly different scenarios could fit this description; what does it mean failing to stop? What does it mean using force? The debate, as we know, could go endlessly to any direction, and it wouldn’t be solved in terms of the “truth” of “what really happened” that day, or in terms of justice. It would be solved in terms of power: the political power that protects the cops, or the power to have a good attorney, or simply the power of the dominant ideology in society (reproduced by the judge, the jury, the media, etc.)

    So, while these technicalities are the rules of the game in the legal world, we don’t necessarily need that in the real, human world. Common sense is enough. And common sense tells me that if all the cops were concerned about was that the dude didn’t have lights, they shouldn’t have tackled him.

    So I see where you are coming from, but I think it is misplaced. Leave these technicalities to the court, and in the real world let’s use common sense.

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  • salaud June 13, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Here is the link to the PDX IMC article.

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  • Mihai June 13, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    In Los Angeles, depending on which police department you run into, you can expect different treatment as a cyclist.

    In a recent nighttime run-in with the Beverly Hills Police Department, an officer in an SUV decided to \”teach us a lesson\” by driving full speed towards us (in our lane of traffic) with his headlights turned off because ONE out of THREE cyclists in our group did not have a headlight. Group punishment and intimidation is what it felt like to me. Imagine the feeling when you know a LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER is flooring their large vehicle towards you at night for not effing reason. Their watch commander and investigating officer that received my complaint both claim that it\’s standard operating procedure.

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  • Diogo June 13, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    rixtir, I must add that I think you are justifying inexcusable behavior by saying things like: \”it´s unrealistic to expect\”; \”its the reality\”.

    Look, policing can take any form a society chooses to – but it is questionable if it always has the power to choose anything.

    In certain places, most cops don~t event carry guns, and until recently no cop carried tasers. By saying its the reality cops will hurt you or shoot you (as you seem to suggest) if you don~t follow the procedure, and that it is unrealistic to expect it to be any different, you are justifying a state of affairs that is just wrong.

    Portland is such a peaceful city, compared to others, that there~s no f-ing reason to believe its unrealistic to have a police force less trigger-happy (is that the word?).

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  • rixtir June 13, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Re \”common sense\” and the \”real world\”:

    In the real world, cops don\’t tackle you and tase you for minor traffic violations. They do ratchet up the use of force if you fail to obey their orders and/or fight back. I think it\’s useful for the average bike rider in this town to understand what the consequences are (rightly or wrongly) if they don\’t obey a lawful order. In the real world, common sense dictates that even when you disagree with the cop who is stopping you, you do not become combative. You stop when asked, you cooperate, you may even *politely* explain that you\’re in compliance with the law, if you actually are, but you don\’t become uncooperative and you don\’t become combative. Save your disagreement for court. That\’s common sense, and useful to know in the real world, because it will prevent the cops from escalating their use of force.

    And none of that is meant to imply anything about Phil that night. Switching from \”the real world\” to the \”legal world,\” I think there\’s enough ambiguity in the incident to raise some serious questions about what happened.

    For example, from the cop\’s perspective, he was issuing an order to stop. From the average person\’s perspective, does \”hey buddy, we need to talk\” constitute a lawful order to stop, especially if spoken by somebody dressed in dark clothes not necessarily recognizable as a police uniform? Or does that more resemble the initial stage of a mugging?

    And what constitutes failure to obey an order? From the cop\’s perspective, Phil failed to stop. From the average person\’s perspective, how long does it take to process that (a) the person approaching you is a cop; (b) the person is talking to you; (c) you heard and understood what the person said; and (d) you respond to the order to stop by stopping?

    From the cop\’s perspective, Phil fought back after being tackled for failure to obey a lawful order. From the average person\’s perspective, would a tackle from a person, dressed in dark clothes, who approached you on a dark street, and said \”hey buddy, we need to talk\” resemble a lawful use of force by a police officer, or would it more resemble a mugging?

    What really gets ambiguous is what happened just prior to the tasing. Did the cops at any point tell him they were cops? Did the cops at any point order him to comply? Was he in compliance with the cop\’s orders when they tased him?

    These are the common sense questions that need to be asked; they are also the questions that illustrate the human drama of what happened that night. Furthermore, they bring the human drama of that night into sharper focus for us, because I think any of us can see ourselves wondering how we would react to an ambiguous situation like that– a stranger dressed in black, saying something as we pass. How would we respond?

    Nonsensical descriptions of the incident as \”man tased for riding without lights\” are neither common sense, nor grounded in the real world, and only obscure the real human drama of what happened.

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  • RichToTheIE June 13, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    damnit. DAMNIT. DAMNIT!

    Phil, CRIMANIMALZ loves you, and i will wear a patch honoring you on the next freeway ride.


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  • rixtir June 13, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Diogo, I\’m not justifying the use of force– at least not a blanket justification. It\’s obviously justified when the circumstances are appropriate. I am saying that anybody who believes the police won\’t use force on you if you fail to comply with their orders is living in a fairy tale world.

    I agree, the cops should not have unbridled power to decide when they can use force. They should follow strict guidelines, and as I understand it, there are guidelines. Cops need to have the discretion to decide when to use force, but that discretion also needs to be exercised in accordance with the guidelines. Somebody said something on another thread that I agree with (paraphrasing here)– that although a civil society needs police, as a free society we will always need to push back on the use of force, or else we run the danger that it will be abused.

    As you noted in certain societies, cops don\’t carry guns (although they are increasingly beginning to). Note that those societies have outlawed guns for the civilian population, so there is (or was) no danger that cops would get shot while performing their duties. Comparing police forces in those societies with police forces in our society is meaningless, because the societies are different.

    I agree that there is a complete disconnect between Portland and the style of policing we have here, and would very much like to see the City Council do a complete overhaul of the police force, beginning with a directive to the police chief that the police force will follow a community policing model, rather than the paramilitary model that we currently have in place.

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  • Diogo June 13, 2008 at 2:16 pm


    I don\’t disagree or oppose you asking those questions. The only reason I countered it was because I felt you were (earlier) too forceful in dismiss people\’s description, which I don\’t think it\’s nonsensical. Causality is always arbitrary. saying \”man tased for riding without lights\” offers a very good explanation of context and situation, that gets lost when you break it into pieces as you are doing.

    I think that stressing the context as the cause is important, because that is what tells us what kind of force is acceptable to use. Keeping the context in mind is what prevents things escalating out of proportion. Its one thing having a known armed criminal failing to stop, and its a different thing having a cyclist do it. We shouldn\’t invest cops with the authority of tackling anyone that he chooses to give orders in the streets. Its better to have some folks get away without tickets (certainly without a ticket for not having lights) that it is to allow them to use any force necessary to enforce his orders.

    Furthermore, I think that the idea of always submitting and saving it to court is, indeed, cold and runs against human nature. Sure, it may be more advisable, but it is exactly the courage to resist injustice that has allowed us to overcome it – it sure hasn\’t been the law or procedures, history has proved that to us over and over. Not only that, but I really thing that it is humiliating to have to submit to someone simply because they are an authority – you may have to do so for fear, but there\’s honor in fighting back when you are being tackled. As I see it, the right to resist is a natural right and it is above the written law – if the law does not support, at least people should afterwards, instead of condemning the guy for not having submitted.

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  • Diogo June 13, 2008 at 2:19 pm


    I hadn\’t read your last post before posting my last one.

    It seems to me that we don\’t have a substantial disagreement – and I appreciatte your input in all this.

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  • AF June 13, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    We don\’t know, and may never know the ture and exact sequence of events, but I\’m just wondering about one detail right now…

    Does a person fleeing on a bicycle often do so without his hands on the handlebars?

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  • bahueh June 13, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    wow great advice…buy a, why didn\’t I think of that….you, sir, are pure genious.

    my commuter bike is well lit, trust me..
    batteries all charged and everything..but sometimes, just sometimes, I get caught up after races in the evening or late at work and don\’t have the light…occasionally, not often.

    whatever Phil did or why he choose to do what he did is his business…but to expect police officers to tackle someone off their bike, when in contrast they could easily get on a motorcycle or in their cruiser and go pull them over without such tactics is well beyond my comprehension…I doubt Phil was doing much over 15mph…I guessing they could have caught up to him within 3 or 4 blocks max and avoided this entire stupid situation….lights flashing and everything..

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  • Russ June 13, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    While it may be true, I\’m saddened whenever anyone says that it\’s the citizenry who needs technical training on how to interact with the police or else they risk serious bodily harm or death from the encounter.

    This city needs a citizen oversight committee with real disciplinary teeth, and not some rubber stamp for police brutality. Police also have to be trained that while they should expect compliance, they first need to give someone ample time to comply if the officer is not in any way at risk of harm.

    One last point. I\’m tired of the police complaining about how dangerous their job is. One, it isn\’t nearly as dangerous as many other jobs – in fact, I wouldn\’t be surprised to find that it\’s more dangerous for a citizen to interact with a police officer than visa-versa. Secondly, if you find the demands of your job too much to take, if you find that \”policing is a complicated, difficult, sometimes dangerous job. Cops are also under close scrutiny from many angles, and are quickly judged\”, and you can\’t take that pressure or behave professionally in your chosen career, then quit.

    I\’m not joking. If you are jaded and burned out, find another job. To listen to these guys moan, you\’d think they are indentured servants.

    I have a job that is complicated, difficult, and sometimes dangerous. I\’m also under close scrutiny from many angles, and am quickly judged. I also find it rewarding. If I start abusing people I work for or making excuses for co-workers who do by explaining that they \”are human\” and \”under a lot of pressure\”, then I will take my own advice and find other employment. I\’m not a slave.

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  • wsbob June 13, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    \”They should follow strict guidelines, and as I understand it, there are guidelines. Cops need to have the discretion to decide when to use force, but that discretion also needs to be exercised in accordance with the guidelines.\” rixter #209

    Yup, this is where it can get really fuzzy, (no cheap pun intended), because, at least from what I\’ve been able to gather following details of various incidents, is that in situations police find themselves in, they are given generous latitude in how they exercise their discretion in accordance with the guidelines. Every incident is unique to itself, so an officer has to have this latitude to respond effectively to the unknown. After all\’s said and done, the cops actions can sometimes look pretty bad, as in this one. We\’ll just have to see how it shakes out if Stu Sugarman takes this to court. Maybe there, the officer will have to explain why there\’s some question that he didn\’t call out \’Stop!! Police!!\’, instead of what he did say.

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  • brian b June 14, 2008 at 12:46 am

    Over there on that block in SoPo, the cops are out setting up nighttime sting ops for bikers w/o lights, tackling and tasering cyclists.

    Over here on my block in NoPo, there\’s a crackheadguy kicking in backdoors, stealing what he can grab, several locations, couple block radius from where he resides. Cops know him and his activities. He keeps at it.

    Misplaced resources and misguided crimefighters?

    So here\’s the tip- he carries the stuff off in black plastic bags on a bicycle- near N Dekum/N Garfield

    …and no lights.

    Good luck and good counsel with your lawsuit, Rev!

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  • Don’t taze me, bro! - Urban Velo June 14, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    […] reported by Jonathan Maus of, on June 10th, bike-porn filmmaker Phil Sano (aka Reverend Phil) was, “pushed off his bike, […]

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  • zora June 20, 2008 at 5:48 am

    I am not surprised to read this. Last winter I spend one week in downtown Atlanta and I saw on a daily (sometimes twice a day) cops arresting guys.

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  • Lenny Anderson June 20, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Why were PPB officers wasting their time and our tax dollars protecting bicyclists from themselves when they should have been up on Interstate MAX protecting the transit riding public.
    Who runs their ship or do the just free-lance?

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  • Alan June 22, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    I am a Taser instructor, posting under a pseudonym for obvious reasons. (This comment does not speak for Taser or my agency.) This situation has inappropriate use of force written all over it in golden letters of fire. The Taser is not a toy!

    So the bicyclist riding past failed to yield to a spoken command from a plainclothes. So what? You get in your MARKED UNIT and you TURN ON YOUR LIGHTS and you stop him! Now it\’s clear who the players are, and if he runs, now you can use force to take him down.

    The officers should have been shouting \”POLICE! POLICE!\” during the whole situation.

    Why are you going to go hands on and tackle some citizen over a MINOR traffic offense? Simple risk of injury to the officer would suggest that this is an unwise move. It also seems to contract PPD\’s departmental manual, which someone posted an excerpt from.

    Is the officer that confident that Portland PD is corrupt, or merely that poorly trained?

    Tasering someone is dangerous, although not for the reasons the general public thinks. If I shoot you with a Taser (or vice versa) and I get a good connect, you are going to fall down. Hard. With no means of protecting yourself from the effects of a fall.

    To get a feeling for what this is like, imagine putting your hands by your sides and falling down on concrete. You will involuntarily bring your arms up to break your fall. A Tasered suspect cannot do this! Therefore fall injuries are not merely possible, but likely.

    Someone posted that they watched him getting Tasered for MINUTES. I don\’t think so. Tasers are factory set to give a five second ride per trigger pull. If the officers are pulling the Taser trigger again and again, there is something very wrong with their training.

    You Tase and then you cuff. In the meantime, you are ordering the suspect to lie down and hold still. When the Taser is off and you\’re ready to cuff, you order them cooperate with your department\’s handcuffing technique. If they don\’t, they take another ride. Then, unless drugs or other altered mental status is involved, they cooperate. (If not, call for backup and/or the medics.)

    Now, since we\’re in the real world and not in some fantasy land, officers make mistakes in the field and you deal with it. In today\’s society full of litigation, you don\’t march the rookie over to the suspect and make him mutter, \”Hey, I\’m sorry.\” Nor does the sergeant hem and haw and do the citizen shuffle and express his regrets. Instead the offending officers write their report as airtight as they can and any roasting is done privately after the situation is made to go away.

    The public loses twice: first because the officers don\’t learn from their mistakes, and second because law abiding citizens learn to fear and distrust the police.

    That said, I can state authoritatively that Tasers do not kill people — unless you Taser someone standing at the edge of a tall height. Extended poly-drug use followed by excited delirium kills people. Positional asphyxiation kills people. Meth certainly kills people.

    I have never heard of a single death from Taser in any military or law enforcement training. Street deaths are ALWAYS associated with extremely combative and violent behavior that could not be controlled by lesser means of force.

    The Taser is a tool that saves lives. Inappropriate uses such as this one endanger the life-saving capabilities of the Taser. Officers should think about this before reaching for the yellow alternative to good verbal skills.

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  • wsbob June 23, 2008 at 12:23 am

    \”That said, I can state authoritatively that Tasers do not kill people –\” Alan

    Alan, did you even read that statement before you posted it? It means nothing. Nothing. Substitute \’guns\’ for \’Tasers\’, as many anti-gun legislation people do, and the statement means exactly the same thing in each case.

    Here\’s a revision of your statement that makes a little more sense: \’Tasers do not kill people in the same way that guns used as weapons by people against other people do.\’. Isn\’t it true that use of a Taser on a person has a traumatic effect on that person\’s physiology? Would an authority in the use of the Taser advise use of that weapon unless absolutely necessary, against people whose medical condition was unknown?

    You yourself, criticize the officers in this incident for what you seem to consider inappropriate use of the Taser against a person for reasons of potential health related problems occurring in persons struck by the Taser. One reason you suggest, is that a person hit by a Taser is \”…going to fall down. Hard. With no means of protecting yourself from the effects of a fall.\”

    Maybe other reasons exist as well; heart conditions, epilepsy, brain injuries, and more, no doubt. (But does Taser test it\’s product on people with those kinds of conditions prior to putting it on the market? Hey, what an honor it must be to serve as a guinea pig for that kind of test.)

    Some members of the PPD seem to have experienced a fairly huge learning curve in acquiring appropriate judgment for the use of the Taser weapon. In that dept there seems to have been other incidents where use of the Taser has been questionable. Any suggestions that would be effective for dealing with these characters?

    I hope you can summon the courage to directly confront the people you instruct in wielding the Taser, and somehow get them to better comprehend when it\’s appropriate to do so and when it\’s not.

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  • Todd June 23, 2008 at 11:55 am

    How come nobody tasers or harasses me? Aren\’t I harassable and taserable? The cops never give me any trouble, what\’s my problem? It would be so fun to get in the paper in cuffs with bloody bruises and harassment-marks and bitch about \”the man\” and \”the establishment\”. That\’d be sweet.

    Oh wait, maybe it\’s because I don\’t act like a jackass to impress my rebel buddies.

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  • Bjorn June 23, 2008 at 11:59 am

    #208 Clearly the DA thought something was amiss with the cop\’s actions as they are not charging Phil…


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  • SkidMark June 23, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Todd, my guess is you look like Joe Squaresville. I am also willing to bet you have never been the one leading a protest, or even a vocal one at a protest. You probably wouldn\’t stand your ground and be willing to confront a cop when he is trying to be intimidating and/or overstep your rights, or the rights of others. And because you\’ve never done any this, you\’ve never had your day in court, and won, and had the media cover it and basically rub the cops\’ noses in their own sh!t.

    And you clearly do not know Rev. Phil, if you think he does anything for anyone\’s \”approval\” but his own.

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  • Russ June 23, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Well Todd,

    I hope you aren\’t implying that it should be acceptable for the Police to assault people who act like \”jackasses\” or have and express counter-cultural political views.

    Oh wait, you are implying just that.

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  • ChiefSteve December 14, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    First, i have to say i have had race bikes in New York, each worth several thousand dollars and in New York biking is different. The rule of the road is to watch out for the other guy.
    Second, there are some bikers here that like to kick cars like the one i borrowed from a friend. I had my taser with me that day rather than my .357. I and several other people went looking for the bastard but he got away. When i’m in a car i don’t use it to smash into other people because i’m irritated or angry. I don’t like police brutality either. At first i thought the police were unreasonable but now i see why they do the things they do and I have to agree with the police, its in their policy anyway as use of force. So, some people need to grow up. If you want the police to see you as bad asses then keep acting like bad asses and they’ll approach you just like any car driver; with their guns drawn. I would too

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  • ChiefSteve December 14, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    …and yes, there ARE bad cops out there, too

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  • Joe Rowe February 5, 2009 at 8:52 am

    The trial will begin this week. Feb 2008 If you have commented on older news postings I thought you would like an update that a new article has been posted about the pending trail.

    Here is the URL of that new article

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  • thatdude February 5, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    I tried to run from hoesly once. he’s quick, i’ll give him and his motorcycle that!

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