By Sandy Malone and Holly Matkin
Portland, OR – Oregon State Police (OSP), who had been in Portland to protect the federal courthouse, announced Thursday evening that their troopers were leaving the city because the district attorney wasn’t prosecuting rioters.
The state police troopers were in Portland as part of a deal brokered between Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Vice President Mike Pence to withdraw federal law enforcement officers from the city if OSP could protect the federal courthouse, according to Reuters.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to send National Guard troops to Portland if the city couldn’t quell the violent riots that have been happening every night since the death of 46-year-old George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police in May.
OSP troopers took over monitoring the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse building at the beginning of August, KGW reported.
Changing the guard, however, had no effect on stopping the violent riots in front of the federal building.
Then, newly-elected Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced on Tuesday that his office wouldn’t be prosecuting the vast majority of arrests that had been made during the riots that have cost local businesses in the tens of millions of dollars.
“Many of the people who have been arrested at these protests for low level offenses come to us with little to no prior criminal history, and we have little to no reason to believe they will re-offend,” Schmidt said in a statement on Aug. 11, according to KATU.
Under Schmidt’s new policy, prosecutors will “presumptively decline to charge” all offenses of disorderly conduct, interference with a police officer, escape, harassment, and criminal trespass.
Rioting charges will also be dismissed “unless accompanied by a charge outside of” the aforementioned offenses, he wrote.
Cases of assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest will be “subjected to a high level of scrutiny” by prosecutors, with special consideration to be “given to the chaos of a protesting environment, especially after tear gas or other less-lethal munitions have been deployed against protesters en masse,” according to the policy.
Schmidt further directed deputy attorneys to consider whether or not the person charged was “in pain, or unable to hear, breathe or see at the moment the resistance occurred,” when deciding whether or not to pursue resisting arrest and assault on a peace officer cases.
With regards to resisting arrest cases, officers’ level of force must also be considered, as well as whether police made “any reasonable available attempt to de-escalate” before they made the arrest, according to the policy change.
Prosecutors who still wish to pursue assault on a peace officer or resisting arrest cases can only do so with a supervisor’s approval.
Schmidt’s office will also be doling out presumptive “conditional dismissals” in felony and misdemeanor cases which involved “financial but not physical harm to another person,” according to the policy.
Such offenses include many criminal mischief, theft, and burglary offenses.
If offenders pay victims for the damages they caused within three months’ time, or if “other amends to the community are made,” then their cases will qualify for dismissal, according to the policy.
On Wednesday night, rioters threw mortars, fist-sized rocks, bottles and cans of paint at troopers in front of the courthouse, KGW reported.
OSP said one trooper had whiplash and a concussion after being hit in the head during the riot.
The next day, the state police announced they would be pulling troopers out of Portland, KGW reported.
“The Oregon State Police is continually reassessing our resources and the needs of our partner agencies and at this time we are inclined to move those resources back to counties where prosecution of criminal conduct is still a priority,” OSP Captain Timothy Fox said in a statement.”
“Last night was our last night in Portland,” Capt. Fox said.
He went on to say that the two-week commitment made by the state police had ended and troopers were returning home to their regular assignments.
Oregon State Police added context to its original statement about leaving downtown Portland. Here's the full, update statement: pic.twitter.com/P9v3ftE7JI
— Kyle Iboshi (@KyleIboshi) August 14, 2020
Capt. Fox said OSP would re-assess based on the needs of the Portland Police Bureau.