Police say Child ignored their requests to stop after they saw her riding in the street without lights. They say when she ran to a house, they chased her down and took her into custody on her porch using reasonable force.
— From The Oregonian
The Oregonian reported Monday night that a 57 year-old St. Johns woman is suing two Portland police officers in U.S. District Court for an incident six years ago that began because she was riding her bike without lights.
Here’s more from The Oregonian:
…saying they violated her civil rights. Freedom Child, a St. Johns resident, said she is making it a federal case because the city failed to investigate when she filed a complaint about her treatment in 2003.
Police say Child ignored their requests to stop after they saw her riding in the street without lights. They say when she ran to a house, they chased her down and took her into custody on her porch using reasonable force.
According to The Oregonian, opening statements in the trial explained that the incident happened on August 6th, 2003 after Child was heading home after volunteering with the Community Cycling Center. After she, “noticed a dark sedan sitting at a stop sign,” the car reportedly began to follow her and when she asked who was in the car, “she got no reply, except creepy questions, such as, “Do you live here?””
As Child ran to her front door, the officers gave chase and grabbed her. She was ultimately arrested and booked downtown for charges of failure to have a bike light and interfering with an officer.
Similar to the situation with Reverend Phil Sano (back in June, he was tackled and tasered for allegedly not heeding an officer’s warning to pull over for not having a bike light), one of the questions surrounding this is whether or not the officers properly identified themselves.
Charges of resisting arrest were brought against Sano, but he was found not guilty by a Multnomah County judge last month.
In the Freedom Child case, one of the officers reportedly “testified that he told the bicyclist to stop, but said he wasn’t sure he used the word “police” at first.”
The trial is ongoing. For more on this story, read detailed coverage from The Oregonian.
Oh great. More cops that can’t bother to call out ‘Stop! Police!!’. Will they have an excuse like Officer Smiths?:
“Defense: You never said “Stop, police?”
Smith: That’s a little passé.”
Maybe they too, were just being ‘friendly’:
“Redirect: DA asks why, when approaching a cyclist for minor violation like not having lights, would you not say “stop, police?”
Smith: It helps to be friendly, not adversarial, when the occasion warrants it. Part of his job is to educate. He’s a friendly guy.”
Both excerpts were from elly blue’s notes of day two bikeportland story of phil sano trial
Stop Police, indeed.
@Maus: Because the third- and second-to-last paragraphs are about the Sano trial, the final paragraph could be confusing.
“The trial is ongoing.”
Does that refer to the Phil Sano taser trial or the Freedom Child trail?
weird story…and very incomplete.
Freedom Child? seriously?
I don’t think anyone here can really say much about it…
It’s petty *$#@ like this that gives cops their crappy reputation. When are they ever going to learn that policing is not about acting like small minded bullies? Any cops out there? Are you listening?
Bust one cyclist for riding unlit and they may be saving the hide of another rider, with lights, who gets hit by Mr. or Ms. Lightless and Brainless. Only a ***** **** rides at night without lights anyway–bravo to the Portland police for stopping them.
I have no sympathy for people who haven’t figured out by now to have lights on their bike after dark.
thanks for that input. I have edited to story to make it more clear.
Cops should identify themselves when telling someone to stop or pull over. PERIOD.
But come on folks, put a light on your bike and use it! I see way too many members of the cycling community riding around on dark rainy nights with no lights and dark colored clothing. “Share the road” includes the responsibility to ride/drive road safe equipment.
You’re not using a light, so we’re going to take you to jail? When’s the last time someone driving without their headlights on got pulled over and taken to jail (assuming they weren’t drunk of course)?
Important to remember that in many cases a violation, such as riding with no light in this case, or weaving (or driving with no lights) in the case of a DUII, etc., is the reason that an officer initiates a stop.
It is often a subject’s behavior during or after the stop, such as attempting to run away, or showing indicators that one is drunk, that may result in additional charges and a trip to jail.
Get a frickin’ light and quit crying when you get pulled over for breaking the law. I’ve almost been hit by unlit bikers. NO sympathy.
I think many of these comments are missing the point. And, unless you are a woman or someone who could be racially profiled, you have absolutely no idea what kind of fear runs through you in an incident such as that described in the article.
The way I read it this woman was being followed by men in a dark sedan, which was likely an unmarked police car. So, it seems she probably thought she was being pursued by people of dubious intentions and had no idea who was inside, however, because it was unmarked. And it was dark, they did not properly identify themselves as police seem to have the “habit” of “forgetting” in this city, and she was fearful of her physical safety, so she ran to her house. Makes sense to me.
Unless you have been socialized to fear everything in the dark and to expect rapists to jump out from dark corners to have their way with you, as women in this country are, you of course wouldn’t read this story and think “yeah, I can see why she would run.” Most of the people reading this blog are probably men, so the comments here are not surprising. Disappointing for sure, since many of you probably have women in your life who you care about and who you would hope would do the same thing in a similar situation, but, nonetheless, not surprising.
It is also good to remember that there has been a history of men posing as police officers and pursuing women who are alone at night in order to assault the women. This is not an urban myth. And, even if it were, would you take the risk of making sure someone pursuing you in a dark sedan at night while you are alone if the consequence was being raped? Doubt it.
Regardless of the realities of sexual assault, women are still socialized to fear the dark and strangers in the dark, so get some perspective and think outside the bike box on this one.
Fight on, sister.
Please keep in mind that women riding alone at night have a different perspective on someone pulling up next to them and initiating conversation. Anyone can pull up next to you in an unmarked car and *say* they are the police.
I’m actually interested in knowing how this is defined as a “civil rights” case…if that is what she’s alledging….I’ll take good odds that she loses…
can anyone fill me in as to how this could be a civil rights violation?
seriously…how hard is it to put lights on a bike, change the batteries 2-3x a year….without giving the police a moving violation, they’d have less reason to act in such poor fashion…there is burden on the rider too, so don’t even start in on the “blaming the victim” garbage…
It’s not that the police didn’t identify themselves, it sounds like they intentionally didn’t identify themselves which is her reason for running away. POLICE need to cleary identify themselves.
LC -“Who are you?”
Police – “Where do you live?”
Me – “WTF!” ( I wasn’t actually there)
How about, “Police mam please pull over.”
Yeah she should have had a light only a fool rides in the dark without one but that doesn’t excuse the police behavior.
Oh resident propagandist PoPo-
It is important to remember that your brethren routinely use small infractions to intimidate and harass certain members of our population.
After confronting over a trivial infraction that the rest of the populace receives a pass on, their next move is to escalate and then fraudulently file trumped up charges such as resisting arrest or assaulting an officer.
Of course you know this to be a fact, but I am sure you will find a way to excuse even the most heinous of your colleagues actions. You are after all contributing here as part of your paid position with the PPD, yes?
Clean up the messes in your own little corner before mucking up ours. The PPD is a disgrace and it is officers such as yourself, that refuse to hold the bad ones to account, that are the real problem. Grow a pair already!
1. Get a light. A second as a backup is good. Carry spare batteries. Rechargeables are nice.
2. Unmarked police cars still have flashing lights installed (visors, etc.). This started as essentially a traffic stop. Why wouldn’t the officers turn on their lights as with any other vehicle stop?
3. The federal case/ civil right bit comes from getting no response to the complaint she filed with the city.
1) I agree with “A woman” (and I’m not a woman.) If a dark sedan starts following me and asking weird questions that aren’t any of their business, I’m going to run away as well. It doesn’t matter if I have a light on my bike or not or am drunk or not or am in the middle of committing a bank robbery or not, weird cars following me at night creep me out, and in the interest of staying alive, I’m going to run away. If they turn on their lights or otherwise identify themselves, then they are no longer “weird” and I’ll stop running, but until then…
2) Yes, she should have had a light. The CCC actually ran a “Get Lit” program a few years ago.
3) She is named “Freedom Child”? I mean, my parents were hippies too, (they met at Humboldt State,) but they knew better than to name me “Freedom Child.”
#13- thanks for the post. I hope that people can have a reasonable discussion about your point now and when if comes to trial.
For those of you who don’t have any sympathy for someone riding without lights, fine. Me, neither.
Do you have any sympathy for me, the Portland taxpayer?
Every time the PPB approaches someone without using lights or clearly displaying a badge, as is alleged here and as was done with Rev Phil, the PPB costs us taxpayers potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Why can’t these guys just read the effing manual?
If you just say the word “Police,” there is no lawsuit. It’s that simple.
A Woman #13: Maybe the police didn’t say “police” and maybe they did. Whatever the case, these two instances that have been reported on does not mean that police “seem” to be “forgetting” as you put it. Yes, if the police did not identify themselves, then she had good reason to not stop because the dark car could have been full of rapists and if this was the case, all charges of resisting arrest WERE dropped (see: the article, and Phil Sano) because they did not identify themselves.
Paul Cone #10: This person in the article did not get arrested for not having a light. She got arrested for not stopping for the police. If a car was getting pulled over for not having a lights on, and then drove away and ran into a house, damn right they would be arrested. In the policemen’s mind, they were trying to pull her over and she evaded arrest. Whether they announced who they were is a different topic.
I also disagree with the lawsuit. This happened 6 years ago.
If she had a freeking light she would have seen they were cops! HA HA
It’s a good thing the PPD is tackling to the ground and dragging away the kind of hardened criminals that are destroying our fair city like this woman who obviously has no respect for the Law.
If she had ANY respect for the Institutions that make this country Great she would have signed up to serve with our Glorious nations’ honorable fighting forces to fight for Liberty in Iraq.
I have noticed a dark car, with blacked out windows, pulling over bicyclists with no lights in the past here in Portland. The car was pretty creepy looking, and the officers inside it were acting really aggro, like they were the bomb squad or something.
If you’re going to pull over cyclists for not having lights – that’s awesome, after all, it’s the law to have at least a front light at night.
But please, do it in police car that at the very least actually says “police” on it.
the lawsuit was filed back on 05, possibly earlier as that was the date it was transferred to federal court from the county court. the reason we are talking about something that happened six years ago is that it takes that long to get to trial around here.
the amended complaint says she suffered physical injuries and psychological distress. you would too. the civil rights violation (comment 15) is freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, freedom from excessive use of police force, intimidation, humiliation, etc. take a look at constitutional amendments four and five. or not.
the complaint alleges that the department had policies in place permittiing this kind of behavior and failing to take action to discourage it through training, discipline, etc. the complaint also alleges that the prosecution against her for interfering with a police officer(which you might recall she won) was based on evidence the prosecutor knew was false.
I use lights, and I am not wild about encountering ninjas without lights when I ride at night. but that does not mean we should accept living in a police state. this thing is in trial right now in courtroom 11B of the federal courthouse.
wake the f*ck up.
PoPo, #11, I get the bit about cops stopping people for minor infractions as a pretext to confirm whether suspect behavior or appearance indicates possible criminal intent or activity. Depending upon the particular circumstances, that can be a reasonable procedure.
This doesn’t explain why police neglect, fail, or decline to identify themselves clearly to people they’re approaching in situations such as this one. The police in this situation, according to the article above, “…gave chase and grabbed her.” What was the suspect behavior here that justified use of the pretext (her not having a light)to stop her? What seemed suspect to the police officers that prompted them to ask a question such as “Do you live here?
And after they stop her and investigate, it turns out she’s not up to any criminal activity at all. She’s just returning from community volunteer work. This is quite a way to reward people that give of themselvesto the community in a constructive way .
What really gets me, is implication of the following statement from the article above: “…the car reportedly began to follow her and when she asked who was in the car, “she got no reply,…”. Even when she asks them to identify themselves, according to her account, they fail to do so. That’s very disturbing, and it makes me wonder just what these cops might have been up to.
I should clarify that yes, police should clearly identify themselves. No question. I will also clarify , #13, that my wife DOES ride, and guess what? She has a light.
The majority of DUIs are discovered because people are pulled over for minor infractions (like driving with their lights out, not signaling etc). It is at least possible that the officers involved were trying to gauge her sobriety. If the police had stopped and shouted ‘Freeze, Police!’ people would have said that they over reacted. I’m not justifying bad police behavior, but I have lived in cities where the PD is a whole lot more confrontational than the PPD. Maybe before we all jump to conclusions about what the police did or didn’t do we should let the courts do their job. This seemed to work out OK in the Sano case, no?
worked out in the Sano case. um, yes, if you think it’s okay to have to suffer through a prosecution for resisting arrest every time . . .
Remember folks part of the lawsuit is becuase the PPD failed to investigate her complaint.
I ride with a light and sometimes the light fails. Yes it is good to have a light, good to have a back up, and back up batteries HOWEVER the back up light and back up batteries are losing charge albeit not as fast as the light being used. It is possible to find yourself unexpectedly without lights. That has happened to me few times and it is a very uncomfortable feeling and I ride more cautiously and try to be more ready to respond to whatever situation that might occur whether it is another vehicle not seeing me or some weirdo that might hurt me.
The police do not have to shout STOP POLICE, they can just say it as they are driving next to her. Police, here please pull over…
Of course we do not know all of the details however she has the right to have her complaint investigates and the PPD failed to do this.
Follow up to “are”‘s excellent post (# 26).
For those not familiar, here is the text of the 4th and 5th amendments
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
All taken from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html
It’s worth a read. I’m glad we have laws saying the cops can’t wander onto my porch and start roughing me up, and I *always* support any legal action to maintain these laws.
Ted in the Couve
#28 states: “I will also clarify , #13, that my wife DOES ride, and guess what? She has a light.”
Not sure what that comment clarifies but my question for you is how do you think she would she feel if she “…was being followed by men in a dark sedan,…. And it was dark …[and they] did not… identify themselves…” on the block in front of her home? Would any apprehensive thought cross her mind?
I read the beginning of the O’s article this morning before work.
The article says that after the car started following her, she got off her bike and started walking it down the sidewalk.
That’s right, folks: at the point the police decided to use agression and force, she was a pedestrian, and last time I checked, peds aren’t required to have lights to walk at night.
They didn’t identify themselves. As a woman, you can be darn sure I’ll be going up to the first house with lights on and pounding on the door until someone lets me in; I’ll be on my cell phone to 911; I’ll be screaming bloody murder at the top of my lungs if I was being followed, felt threatened, was tackled by strange fellows.
Portland Police, wake up and smell the coffee roasting: is it really so hard to identify yourselves?????
She- are the police supposed to know which riders ride with lights on a regular basis and which ones don’t? Once again- not justifying bad police behavior, but if your light is out then your light is out and you are breaking the law. Are the police going to magically know that you normally have a light but just happened to have no batteries on one special occasion and neglect to pull you over?
I am not justifying police breaking the law, violating the constitution etc. It does seem, though, that any time the police come up on this board a whole lot of people like to jump to conclusions without knowing all the facts.
Ted- I’m glad we have laws saying the cops can’t wander onto my porch and start roughing me up, but I’m also glad we have cops.
‘worked out in the Sano case. um, yes, if you think it’s okay to have to suffer through a prosecution for resisting arrest every time . . .’
As opposed to being thrown in jail with no trial? Shot by the government? Yes, there are clearly worse things that could have happened to Sano, including wrongful conviction. It SUCKS that he had to go through that, but I am personally grateful to have a legal system to go through. These are just my opinions folks- feel free to disagree.
a common thread between Freedoms and Phils case, is that they are both well known ‘counterculture’ folks ( and I mean that in the nicest way..) and the cops KNOW who they are. Portland isn’t that big. And when a well known person ( of the kind who doesnt send money off to the Sunshine Division or have a Dare sticker on their car ) encounters the cops, its a fair chance that they need to be pulled over for ‘investigatory purposes”.
You can be sure the PoPo also read such things as bikeportland, just to know who is who. And expect that you too might have a defective reflector that may need a “stop and talk” about..
The O story is a great read. According to that story, the two cops certainly were being ultra cautious about not letting someone go they apparently thought could have been a major crime figure:
Applying to a 50 yr old woman, “…a “quick tug” on her hair because he was worried he would hurt her by grabbing her arm because it was so thin.”
Then, even when her roommate and her landlord confirm her identity, they decline to find that sufficient confirmation of who she is, “…because she had no mug shot on file with police…”.
No photo I.D either, such as a driver’s license? On that basis, a lot of us are in trouble. Are these two officers trying to send the message that they think every citizen should go down and request that a mug shot be taken and put on file so something like this doesn’t happen to citizens again?
What is up with PPB people who can’t utter the word “police” in the traffic stop when they are otherwise impossible to identify?
It seems like we should just make it city policy to fire any office who pulls this nonsense and then NOT replace them. Their salary could be re-purposed for something useful. Maybe more money for bike lanes, or schools?
Glad you are enjoying your chains so much, Whyat.
Some of us are old enough to remember when they were much longer, and not quite as tight around the neck.
I was responding to all the posts that were being so incredibly harsh about her not having a light – no I am not expecting the police not to ticket me if they catch me or anyone else riding w/o a light. I am not sure what part of the story you think I missed. I guess I could have been more clear that I was not expecting the cops to know who “usually” rides w/or w/o a light.
My point is that we do not know whether the woman was riding intentionally w/o a light.
So actually you and I agree, do not judge without know all the facts involved.
Don’t get me wrong – I HATE to see bikes at night w/o lights, w/o helmets, in dark clothing, etc.
Ride safely in bright clothing with a helmet and lights!
I ride with lights and don’t run stop signs, Hmmm…I’ve never had a run in a police officer or gotten a ticket. Seems pretty simple to me.
Yup, cause if it never happens to blah blah blah, then it never happens. How many times did they make you repeat 2nd grade?
That is almost as sensible as imagining that if you close your eyes, something goes away.
Okay, everybody banging the, “Lights at Night”, drum, I expect to see each and every one of you festooned in lights next time I see you after dark. Bike or not. Pedestrians are just as hard to see as cyclists, so…
What’s with the all-men-are-rapists tripe in 13, 14 and others? “Socialize”? Um, one socializes dogs, not people. Perhaps you mean, “conditioned”? Either way, total bs. That’s a pile of irrational, prejudiced, misandrist garbage that would have been censored had a man posted something like that here. Besides, we’re all equal, that’s why when I produce more than you, on orders of magnitude, you get the same benefit I do from it. I don’t feel the things you mention, therefore neither should you. You know, if we’re all equal.
I have an idea that this person is totally insane. Maybe even a pathology concerning authority. I’ve seen it before. Some people get to grow up with their parents, “conditioning”, them to view the world as an upside-down pyramid starting with them.
I’m having a hard time deciding who gets less of my sympathy. A sadomasochist decked out in Jack-Boots, and hand-cuffs – or the middle-aged hippie-chick still trying to blame all her problems on men.
Oh, and what in the heck does this have to do with biking anyway?
golly, vance 42, you are right: women are not at all vulnerable in this culture, especially not alone, at night, and at the hands of male strangers who do not identify themselves . . .
and anyone who says otherwise is a man-hater.
webster, among others, defines “socialize” to mean “to make fit for companionship with others according to a given cultural pattern.” not just for dogs anymore.
also, comment 13 on its face seems to be saying that women are (to use your word) conditioned to these fears, not that the fears are in every case justified . . .
but y’know, better safe than sorry.
what it has “to do” with biking is that nonconformists generally, and bicyclists in particular, seem to be targeted by this kind of policing.
give me a fifty-something hippie chick who volunteers her time at the cycling collective. what have you done lately?
Use the lights, they work.
…and I am not just speaking to the cyclist. Unless I see flashing blue lights or a uniformed officer, I have no desire to stop.
This and the Rev Phil incident does speak to the fact that there should be very specific protocol followed so citizens can make the appropriate response.
If I heard someone say, “Hey buddy” or similar from a car, I’d blaze out of there as aggressively as my bike handling skills and power could carry me.
Please can we standardize so we don’t terrorize our citizenry.
I feel like I have so much “freedom” when I ride my bike, like I was a “child” again.
This whole incident is so not about biking at night without lights. Those of you who keep bringing that up are delusional. And I hope the next time you jay walk, drop a piece of litter or make a lane change without signaling, you get arrested for it. It would serve ya’ll right.
Vance (#42), I sure hope you’re enjoying your sad pathetic life alone, because you’ve obviously not had any women you care about in it. If you had, you’d realize that the comments in #13 are pretty much correct for most women, to one degree or another. You’re misogynistic tendencies are showing. Get some therapy.
” golly, vance 42, you are right: women are not at all vulnerable in this culture, especially not alone, at night, and at the hands of male strangers who do not identify themselves . . . “
Ya, I just said that. Aww, you’re being sarcastic! Oh you. Um, women are no more, or less, anything than their male counter-parts. I pay taxes too, why should women be afforded better service from the police, and a different set of rules to follow?
” webster, among others, defines “socialize” to mean “to make fit for companionship with others according to a given cultural pattern.” not just for dogs anymore. “
Wow, out of context and completely misses the point too. Or are you asserting that sexual assault is a cultural value?
” also, comment 13 on its face seems to be saying that women are (to use your word) conditioned to these fears, not that the fears are in every case justified . . . “
Ya, but they didn’t.
” what it has “to do” with biking is that nonconformists generally, and bicyclists in particular, seem to be targeted by this kind of policing. “
What kind of policing? Suppose for a moment this happened the way Ms. Child says it happened. If it was so dark she could not see she was being approached by the police, then how could she see to safely operate a bicycle?
Plus, your use of the word, “nonconformist”, sends chills down my spine. “This kind of policing by the way”, is done by men, women, whites, blacks, yellows, and browns, and…
” give me a fifty-something hippie chick who volunteers her time at the cycling collective. what have you done lately? “
Ya, I volunteer for actual charities. One person’s Community Cycling Center, is another person’s misandrist, leftist, Nanny-State indoctrination center.
I’m glad to see this. In spite of my sarcasm, in spite of the fact that I’m defending myself, and being further personally attacked for it, Ms. Child still gets to play victim. It is this decidedly anti-single-white-male sentiment that MAKES ME FEEL LIKE A CRIMINAL within certain elements of the cycling community; and Portland et al. Not all men are rapists. Just like not all women are leeches upon society.
It’s all in your head.
” Vance (#42), I sure hope you’re enjoying your sad pathetic life alone, because you’ve obviously not had any women you care about in it. If you had, you’d realize that the comments in #13 are pretty much correct for most women, to one degree or another. You’re misogynistic tendencies are showing. Get some therapy. “
Hey, thanks for providing me more evidence k. So, which is it? Is it, “pretty much correct”, or correct, or incorrect? This clears it up though: “to one degree or another”? For Pete’s sake would you pick a side of the fence to come down on?
Look, #13 is spewing generalizations, inaccurate stereotypes, and in every way, “Male bashing”. I cry foul, because I hate women, what? You called me, “pathetic”, and state that you hope I get incarcerated for nothing. Oh, the irony. If you actually knew me, you’d know I get more Police-on-Vance-action than the Rev! Mostly by female, or ethnic police-officers too, so now what-say-you? Which is why I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Police are pretty non-discriminatory when it comes to being jerks.
Heartbreaking to see this kind of thing. A 135lb woman is no more or less vulnerable than a 135lb guy. No more or less entitled to protection from the police, and certainly no more or less entitled to just ignore the police should they, “feel”, threatened by them.
“I’m just a scarwed-wittle-gurl”, is getting pretty damn old.
Vance, I think I understand what you are saying, but I’m not sure you are understanding what A Woman is saying up there in #13.
A Woman is not saying that all men are rapists and pigs. A Woman (I’ll assume female) is saying that women are taught, either explictly or implictly, that they are not safe out on the roads at night alone. (Or even not safe out on the roads on a bike, day or night, period, but that’s another tangent.)
The “villain” is always assigned the male gender. Blame society for that.
As a woman cyclist, yeah, I feel like I have to be more aware of my surroundings because “some bad man could jump out of the bushes and get” me. It’s that whole “stranger danger” thing we all got fed as kids.
Yes, the whole “scarwed wittle gurl” thing is getting real old. And yeah, no one should feel threatened by the police.