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Federal trial lined up for police who Tasered Hillsboro man after bike infraction

Posted by on October 14th, 2015 at 10:39 am

robinson in dirt

A Hillsboro police photo from the aftermath.

Two police officers and the City of Hillsboro are on course to defend themselves in a jury trial over their choice to Taser a man who they’d stopped for biking illegally beside Tualatin Valley Highway.

The man who was tackled and Tasered in the 2012 incident, Jermaine Robinson, had been riding after dark without a front light on his bike, and the officer who stopped him says Robinson had been crossing the Southeast 13th Avenue crosswalk against a “don’t walk” light.

After the officer, William Blood, pulled his car over to confront Robinson, Robinson refused to give his name and (according to Blood, but not Robinson) seemed to be preparing to pedal away. Blood’s colleague Brian Wilber then shot him with a Taser twice.

From traffic stop to full submission, the incident lasted about three minutes. It took place about one mile from Robinson’s house.

We reported about the incident in detail in April. Willamette Week reported this week that a federal judge had advanced the case to trial.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart ruled Oct. 7 that the case should not be dismissed without trial because it would be possible for a reasonable person to conclude that Blood and Wilber used excessive force during the stop.

“By any stretch of the imagination, these are minor, nonviolent offenses,” Stewart wrote of Robinson’s choices. “The record reveals no obvious need for haste in taking Robinson into custody. Instead, the police dispatch log reveals that Wilber was on the scene by 22:18:22 p.m., within one minute after Blood stopped Robinson. … Given that Robinson’s method of resistance was simply to refuse to answer questions and resist being pulled off his bicycle, Blood and Wilber could easily have awaited the arrival of additional officers to assist.”

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The judge’s ruling (posted by Willamette Week) includes a significant detail that we missed: Robinson, who is black, had a cousin who was Tasered and killed in a police encounter.

pic J and V (1)

Jermaine Robinson, left, in a photo provided by his
lawyer, Edie Rogoway. Also pictured is his wife Vivian.
Rogoway said the couple received matching bicycles
as wedding gifts from her sister’s family.

Stewart also concluded that because Blood and Wilber may have failed to receive training on appropriate uses of force, the City of Hillsboro must also stand judgment over claims of assault and battery.

The 2012 incident is heading toward trial amid a conversation in the national street-safety movement about the possibility that calls for increased traffic-law enforcement as part of Vision Zero could result in excessive policing over traffic infractions, especially of poor people and people of color. Former League of American Bicyclists Equity Program Manager Adonia Lugo wrote last month that while at the League she had been “alarmed that a pillar of Vision Zero was increased police enforcement of traffic violations.”

Locally, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Oregon Walks have included notes of caution about racial profiling in their advocacy for more enforcement of Oregon traffic laws. The need to avoid excessive or racially unjust policing, though, wasn’t discussed in their June whitepaper about Vision Zero, except as part of the argument for using automated safety cameras to nab people speeding.

This Hillsboro case also has some elements of a 2008 case in Portland that saw Phil Sano tackled and Tasered by Portland police officers after he failed to follow their orders to stop. Sano, too, had been biking without lights.

The process of setting a trial date will begin after any objections from the ruling are resolved. The two-week objection period closes Oct. 25.

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Charles Ross
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Charles Ross

A police officer never, ever has a reason to lose a fight. He’s armed, he has a taser, pepper spray, a baton, body armor, a radio to call for help.
In addition, his gang is always going to be bigger than my gang.
Why argue? Why fight? If he asks you to stand still, stand still. If he asks you to identify yourself, do so.
Do you have a problem with how an officer is conducting himself. File a compliant.
Did this individual attempt to walk/ride away? If he did so, why would the officers get into a physical confrontation with him and risk injury to themselves? If I was carrying all that weaponry on my person, I wouldn’t risk letting someone get in close to me. Would you?

Tom Hardy
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Tom Hardy

Hillsboro police should know better than this. The particular intersection does not trigger with bicycles. The late hour gives a quick cycle to cross traffic with a 3 second window. The traffic is also very light at the time the cyclist crossed.

9watts
Subscriber

Very interesting…
I am reminded of the conversation PoPo and I had back in April here about the refuse to give name/escalation question.

PoPo: “My experience with people who refuse to identify themselves is that the vast majority of them are attempting to hide their identity because they have done something else that is worse.”

maxD
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maxD

Are you required to have lights on your bike if you are on the sidewalk? I know you need front and back lights for the street, and you are supposed to modify your speed to walking speed when on the sidewalk, but I did not think vehicle regulations applies when operating in a pedestrian environment.

Beeblebrox
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Beeblebrox

Vision Zero should only be used to justify increase enforcement of those traffic violations that actually cause fatalities and serious injuries. A true Vision Zero approach would direct police to “Focus on the Five” violations that are proven to cause fatalities and serious injuries: Motor vehicle running a red light; Motor vehicle running stop sign; motor vehicle violating pedestrian right-of-way; motor vehicle turning violation; and motor vehicle speeding.

Notice a trend? They are all motor vehicle infractions, which makes sense since they cause the vast majority of fatals and serious injuries. So a blanket enforcement of all traffic laws, including those that don’t really cause dangerous crashes, is not taking a Vision Zero approach at all. As the article suggests, it becomes an excuse for profiling and targeting people walking and bicycling. Even with a “Focus on the Five” approach, we should be careful to avoid bias and profiling, which is why automated enforcement is such a great way to go.

Patrick Barber
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You said “Stewart also concluded that because Blood and Robinson may have failed to receive training…” but you meant “Blood and Wilber…”

davemess
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davemess

Is it illegal to cross (on foot) with a don’t walk light, even if you have a green light?
I know many crosswalk signals don’t change unless you hit the button. You still should have the right of way though.

Todd Boulanger
Guest

Vision Zero as practiced in Northern Europe also attempts to educate cyclists about the need for bike headlamps / tail lights too. (BikePortland has covered this along time ago re: Amsterdam policies and impressions). Google “Licht op je fiets” or “Licht ann” etc.

An additional missing link is the USA is how adult bikes historically have been treated as a consumer product since the early 1970s by the CPSC (US Consumer Product Safety Commission) etc. in viewing bikes as toys and NOT vehicles and thus can be sold without state mandated safety equipment (lights, horns, etc.).

PomPilot
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PomPilot

A key point is not clear in the original post. Is this federal jury trial a civil case, or a criminal case? The comment about “the City of Hillsboro must also stand judgment over claims of assault and battery” suggests the possibility of a criminal one.

Dead Salmon
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Dead Salmon
Dead Salmon
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Dead Salmon
Mark
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Mark

Reading through some of the comments, its clear that some do not understand that there are cops that view riding while black worse than driving while black. To be tazed twice because one refuses to answer questions is ridiculous and would rarely happen to a white rider. Robinson was questioning the heavy handed tactics of the police..so…they tazed home. How dare he question them….says the tazer wielding offers.

Robinson will winn this case I believe and rightly so. Which….is a win for people who bike.

BeavertonRider
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BeavertonRider

9watts
If your cousin had been killed by cops with a taser do you think you would still have the same nonchalant attitude about interactions with cops *always* following standard protocol as long as you comply?Recommended 0

I dont believe I’ve displayed a nonchalant attitude. I’ve expressed that if you comply with instructions, the stop will most likely go without incident.

Again, we can pretend that all white cops are bigoted racists just lying in wait to hurt or kill blacks or we can deal with actual facts.

Tim
Guest
Tim

As a 14 year old child I had a sheriffs deputy used their police curser to run me off the road, smashing my bike and leaving me bruised in the ditch. I was following all of the laws and rules of safe cycling, but the officer proceeded to lecture me on how dangerous it was for me to be out riding my bike.

Maybe it is not a race thing after all. Just a bike thing. Wonder when was the last time these officers tasered a driver over driving in the bike lane. Interesting question in trial – So we see that the paint is warn off the bike lane – how many tickets have you issues for driving in the bike lane?

Dead Salmon
Guest
Dead Salmon

For all those who think the cops are out to get us, you will like this article. For those with children, it is food for thought. The comments offer some solutions to the question:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-15/how-do-you-prepare-child-life-american-police-state

Tessa
Guest
Tessa

BeavertonRider
Look, left wing racial grievance mongers perpetuate the myth that bigoted white cops lie in wait around every corner, waiting to blast a black man into his grave. It’s this myth that underscores many of the comments related to this article above.There are bad cops, just as there are bad priests and bad teachers. However, the overwhelming number of cops are not and the overwhelming majority of police stops do not involve unjustified use of force.In fact, the danger to black men in the US is not a white cops. The danger to a black child, woman, and man is…another black. DoJs own UCRs demonstrate this fact. In 2013, 90% of black murder victims were killed by other blacks. Only 8% were slain by whites. Hence, less than 8% were killed by white cops. This should give pause to those who want to believe that white cops are just lying in wait to pummel a black man or to kill him. But it doesn’t. Some people simply need to believe that we cannot improve the racial conditions in this country.Recommended 4

Yes there are bad teachers, priest etc. But they are not armed and allowed to get away with murder, rape, brutality and torture.
So big difference.
We cannot accept that there are good cops because if there where they would be standing shoulder to shoulder demanding the same justice we are. They would want to see these so called ” bad cops” in prison the same as we do. They would arrest and even shoot to kill if need be these bad cops caught in illegal and aggressive dangerous acts.
So no there are not good cops. Just as there would not be good priest if they where in knowledge or molestation and yet did nothing or a good teacher if they saw a child come in bruise and battered and did nothing or knew that a teacher was molesting children and did nothing.
So your point is mute.
In addition your false statement of the danger to blacks are other blacks. What you just swallow Trumps cum? Do some research its been refuted that this is not any different than whites or Latinos or Asian. The fact is that apx 85 percent of white murdered are murdered by whites. People in general are killed by people they know or associate with meaning that almost every race will see the majority of murders perpetrated by the same ethnic group.
Now lets address the systematic racism in the police. To deny this with all the evidence available is to choose to be an ignorant fuck.
Yes cops love to beat men and women of color, to oppress them and than to tweet and facebook this fact.
Police where created to control the slaves. They are an illegal and unconstitutional entity as for they are not a voted position as is a sheriff. They are, have been and will be corrupt and dangerous.
Yes we can improve the racial conditions in this country. But not by denying facts. Not by apologizing for the maniacs with a badge and not by falsifying evidence. We need to not support our police. We need to demand they are disbanded and only Sheriffs and deputies to patrol and investigate as for these are positions in which if they fail they can be impeached and replaced.

Tessa
Guest
Tessa

No we can assume they are primarily bad. Thats a stretch using the analogy of them flying across country. There are things they could demand where ever they are. They can demand a civilian revue board for all complaints and I don’t mean like in CA where the board is comprised of ex cops and prosecutors. They can demand the end of the corrupt union. They can demand that all cops charged with abuse or murder are tried to the best of the prosecutors ability ( unlike the prosecutors playing defense attorney to a corrupt Grand Jury) They can demand that cops charged with misconduct of any sort are fired, all law suits also pertain to their personal property instead of tax payer funds. That any cop charged with brutality or misconduct cannot EVER be hired in a position of authority, maybe registered like sex offenders since they are more dangerous in general. Not allowed to own firearms ever in the future. etc..
They can write congress to demand that laws are enforced agains’t them. But in general if a cop is watching another cop beating or murdering someone they will back them up.
There is proof that the majority of police have a mentality that is narcissistic and sociopathic. They will lie to your face, a Judge a jury. They are not good people.
I know also this first hand. My daughter was PD in Phx for over 14 yrs. She spent years in misery due to the corruption of the powers that be. They system is screwed and she had 6 yrs left for double pension and left. She backs my feelings all the way.

Tessa
Guest
Tessa

Of course as long as justice is served. The problem is the justice system is incestuous. It is unable to hold itself accountable. So there lies a big problem. Until it holds itself accountable I don’t care how it gets resolved. It may take a bit of war to stir the pot.. get it scared enough it realizes who it works for and its place in society.. They have played judge, jury and executioner way too long.. what goes around eventually comes around..
As for WA and its still one of the most corrupt and violent institutions in the USA.. They have to stop overseeing themselves. Cops have always been a corrupt institution. They where started to control the slaves. The only difference is we have technology which they would love to stiffen.

9watts
Subscriber

Did we ever learn how this trial ended?
If so, I missed it.