Dozens of officers on the Portland Police Bureau’s Rapid Response Team voted to disband the specialized crowd control unit during a meeting Wednesday night.
The unprecedented move to resign from their own team came just one day after team member Officer Cody Budworth was formally accused of fourth-degree assault from a baton strike against a protester last summer, The Oregonian reported.
Members of the rapid response team serve voluntarily and a team lieutenant informed Chief Chuck Lovell of their decision to resign because of “perceived lack of support from City Hall and from the district attorney.”
Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office confirmed the roughly 50 members of the rapid response team voted to resign, KATU-TV reported.
The officers are still members of the Portland Police Bureau and will continue with their regular assignments.
Portland Police Association executive director Daryl Turner told KATU that Multnomah County Attorney General Mike Schmidt’s indictment of Budworth was political.
“His political agenda from the very beginning was to indict a police officer,” the union director said.
“He was looking for an opportunity to do it.”
Budworth is accused of unlawful use of force against a woman, Teri Jacobs, during an August 2020 protest.
Jacobs told KATU she had head, neck and back pain as a result of the incident.
Turner said Budworth was acting within protocol and hitting Jacobs was an accident.
“As Officer Budworth cleared Ms. Jacobs from the area to stop her criminal activity, Ms. Jacobs fell to the ground,” Turner said.
“Reasonably believing that she was getting back up to re-engage in her unlawful activities, Officer Budworth employed one last baton push to try and keep her on the ground, which accidentally struck Ms. Jacobs in the head. The location of Officer Budworth’s last baton push was accidental, not criminal.”
Use of force during the summer of demonstrations that followed the May 25 death of George Floyd led to multiple civil lawsuits in state and federal court, according to The Oregonian.
The Oregon State Police was one of the few outside police agencies willing to help in Portland during the protests.
Turner wrote a letter to the mayor and police chief in October asking for them to “stand up and publicly support Police Bureau members who voluntarily serve on the Rapid Response Team.”
“Our RRT members do not volunteer to have Molotov cocktails, fireworks, explosives, rocks, bottles, urine, feces and other dangerous objects thrown at them,” he wrote.
“Nor do they volunteer to have threats of rape, murder and assaults on their families hurled at them. They do not volunteer to suffer serious injuries, to be subjected to warrantless criticism and face allegations by elected officials, or to suffer through baseless complaints and lengthy investigations devoid of due process.”
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