US/OR/Detroit/2018-06-04 police beating

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About

June 4, 2018 Four Marion County Sheriff's deputies were recorded on video[1] apprehending someone for no apparent reason and then holding them down while one of them, Deputy Jake Thompson, beat the person repeatedly in the head – all while the victim reiterated multiple times that they were not resisting and that the police were hurting them.

The victim, Tessa Lovelace of Portland, is agender and identifies with "they/them" pronouns. News articles are falsely referring to them by their deadname (i.e. their as-yet-uncorrected legal name, "Kevin Straw") and an incorrect gender, and much internet discussion[2] is following suit; this is nonetheless in error.

Tessa is an engineer, sysop, and co-founder of a successful Portland company, Red Thread Studios.

Tessa reported in a voicemail on June 6[3]: "I was beaten by law enforcement and then placed [in a psychiatric ward] against my will." and "The individual who attacked me has been suspended... the ACLU is involved, thankfully."

A follow-up news article[4] also reports on the suspension and states: "The sheriff's office said [Tessa's deadname] was taken into custody because [they] kept yelling while emergency responders were coordinating a search for two missing fishermen and refused to stay away when told to leave at least twice by deputies." We have not been able to check this account of events. Another article[5] contains a statement from David Rogers, executive director of the Oregon ACLU: "That video is disturbing. It's violent. Honestly, if that does not represent excessive use of force, I'm not quite sure what does."

Tessa was released from psychiatric confinement the evening of June 8, the authorities not having been able to identify any reason to keep them there.

On June 29, the Marion County Sheriff's Office released a statement clearing Tessa of any wrongdoing (no criminal charges will be filed) and stating its intention to proceed with a Professional Standards Investigation.

Video

The video lasts a total of 5 minutes and 38 seconds, and begins after police have approached and surrounded Tessa. Tessa apparently asks the officers if there is a problem; one officer responds "Here is the problem: you're under arrest. Do not do anything." Tessa calmly responds "I'm not doing anything." The officer then orders "Put your hands behind your back" while several officers force Tessa to the ground while Tessa is shouting "NO! NO! Please stop!".

Tessa says, loudly and clearly, "I am not resisting! I am not resisting! I am not! STOP! STOP! STOP! HELP! HELP! OW! HELP! STOP!" while one officer beats Tessa repeatedly in the head.

The arrest continues in this vein for another minute or so, with officers continuing to beat and restrain someone who has offered no violence, repeatedly stated that they are not resisting, repeatedly stating that they are in pain and telling the officers to stop. Tessa also clearly informs the officers that Tessa is bleeding and in need of medical attention; the officers appear to completely ignore all of this.

At 1:34 into the video, Tessa says "I came to warn you about the cougar!" This is in reference to a cougar that Tessa reported having tracked down outside Detroit.

At 1:48 into the video, Tessa says "Somebody record this!" A female voice can be heard answering from off-camera that "A lot of people are recording this, actually." Tessa then says "Post it on YouTube! Post it on Facebook!" Tessa then mentions an organization and an individual who should also be contacted.

Tessa then asks to be allowed to make a phone call, and reiterates that they are bleeding, but the police continue to ignore everything they say.

Some dialogue does finally ensue when Tessa tells the police how to remove Tessa's equipment safely.

At 3:35, the officers finally begin getting up off Tessa; Tessa thanks them for doing this.

At 3:48, Tessa notes that the officers have cut off Tessa's scarf, rather than simply removing it. "You cut my scarf! You jerks!"

There is some dialogue after that where Tessa asks "what did I do?" but much of it is inaudible due to increased traffic noise.

By 4:34, Tessa has regained their feet with some assistance from the officers. Tessa can then be heard saying "Whoever it was that punched me, multiple times in the head, I really didn't appreciate that."

At 5:12, Tessa can be heard saying "I have a communication disability. (Tessa is autistic.)

The police then escort Tessa, who remains physically calm throughout, towards a police vehicle. The video then fades out.

Footnotes

  1. 2018-06-04 Video of Marion County deputy punching homeless man during arrest under review, police say
  2. 2018-06-05 Shaun King on Twitter: "This homeless man is not violent. He's also mentally ill & thought he was helping the police. A huge cop then throws 14 blows, full strength, to the back of his head. These punches are illegal in the @UFC. They cause brain damage." (The gender usage here is incorrect; Tessa is agender.) (This links to a shorter edit of the same video here.)
  3. 2018-06-06 16:59 ET Tessa, voicemail to Woozle
  4. 2018-06-05 Marion County deputy reassigned after repeated punching of homeless man during arrest
  5. 2018-06-05 Oregon sheriff's office reviewing video of deputy punching homeless man

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