Elijah Warren, a Black father, filed a lawsuit today against the City of Portland and Detective Erik Kammerer. The Portland law firm of Kafoury & McDougal filed the suit with two claims: civil battery and negligence.
On September 5, Mr. Warren was inside his home in Southeast Portland on the 100th night of Portland’s Civil Rights Summer of 2020. Outside, Portland Police officers, clad in riot gear, forcefully dispersed protestors. Officers fired tear gas, which entered Mr. Warren’s home. He, his son, his son’s friend, and the family dog were inside. Mr. Warren’s son and his son’s friend began screaming. Both boys tried to wash their eyes out in a sink.
Wanting to discuss the effects of tear gas with Portland Police, Mr. Warren walked outside. He approached a group of officers near Ventura Park. While an officer listened to Mr. Warren, Detective Kammerer struck Mr. Warren from behind, hitting Mr. Warren’s head. Wearing riot gear, the Detective, a white man, used a baton. After striking, officers pulled Kammerer away from Mr. Warren, telling the Detective that Mr. Warren was a homeowner.
Mr. Warren suffered a concussion, a cut on his ear that required stitches, and other injuries.
Detective Kammerer of the Portland Police Bureau investigates homicides and shootings by Portland Police, having testified to grand juries about uses of deadly force by the Portland Police Bureau for at least a decade, according to reporting by Latisha Jensen of the Willamette Week.
“In my lifetime, no Portland Police Officer has ever permanently lost their job for abusing a citizen,” said attorney Greg Kafoury. “This lawsuit is an effort to get the City to discipline and remove violent officers.”
Kafoury & McDougal’s claim for negligence asserts the City of Portland failed to provide appropriate training to Kammerer, deliberately or negligently. By and through its Police Bureau, the City knew, or had reason to know, that Detective Kammerer was likely to react in situations involving a degree of confrontation with unreasonable force or threats of force. The City knew it failed to adequately discipline the Detective in his prior misuses of force—despite also knowing that appropriate discipline was likely to make him less of an unreasonable threat to others in the future.
The City knew that Kammerer had been inadequately trained to deal with stressful or confrontational situations. The City knew Kammerer was likely to assume that he was substantially above the law by the City’s pattern and practices of failing to discipline or terminate Kammerer and other unreasonably violent police officers. The City knew that assumption was likely to encourage him to engage in unlawfully violent or threatening encounters with civilians.