(Photo: Ian Stude)
Phil Sano was in court today to fight two traffic violations related to an incident that occurred back on June 10th. Also in the courtroom to testify were both Portland Police officers involved in the incident; Ron Hoesly and Erin Smith.
The officers allege that Sano did not heed their commands to stop for a bike light violation. When Sano didn’t stop, Hoesly and Smith say he then resisted arrest which led to him being tackled and tasered repeatedly. The incident occurred near the corner of 7th and Alder in Southeast Portland. Sano was cited for Failure to Obey a Police Officer and for a bike equipment violation.
Sano says the Judge offered little sympathy today. He was found guilty of both violations and ordered to pay a fine of $285.
“This is a very emotional case for me, because I’ve never before been a victim of such pain and humilation.”
I spoke to Sano via telephone a few minutes ago and he said today’s court session was “terribly frustrating and disappointing.” Sano admits he did not have a bike light mounted on his bike at the time of the incident, but he contends that it was because someone had stolen his mount. He decided to ride without a front light because it was still twilight, and he had a long way home (he also told me he had a sore knee that would have made walking very difficult).
Sano also still maintains that he does not think Officer Smith properly identified himself prior to tackling him. Sano says he told the judge that he didn’t see a badge on any part of their uniforms. “But he [Officer Smith] said he did [have a badge on], so it was my word against his.” Sano recalled that he has previously been assaulted by random people who told him to stop while riding his bike.
Today’s court session was only for the traffic violations. The criminal case related to the tasering (where Sano could be charged with resisting arrest) is still ongoing. Sano reported that one of his witnesses was subpoenaed today by the Grand Jury to testify in that case. I’ll keep you posted on any developments.
Portland Police spokesperson Brian Schmautz says he can’t comment on an open criminal case but he urged patience. Via telephone today he said, “Don’t judge the suspect or the officers at this point, let’s let the system work. The officers have a job to do and Mr. Sano will have his side heard at the appropriate time and place.”