$47,500 Settlement for Case of Portland Police Unleashing Dog to Bite Man Mowing a Lawn

james watersJames Waters, 47-year-old African American man, was at work mowing a lawn in NE Portland when two vans full of Portland Police officers wearing storm-trooper-type outfits and bearing high-powered weapons pulled up in front of the house. Officers had been monitoring Mr. Waters using an airplane and ground surveillance to plan the Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) arrest. One of the police threw a concussion bomb, designed to blind and disorient a person, a few feet from Mr. Waters was pushing the lawnmower away from the street. Unsurprisingly, the explosion terrified him, and when he ran a few feet away from the bomb and the smoke, Officer Jeff Dorn unleashed a German Shepherd on him.

Police dogs are trained to bite and hold, and this dog did. Although they are not trained where to bite, this one got Mr. Waters by the leg. As Waters tried to pull the dog’s jaw off of him, officers ordered him to “stop resisting” the animal, as they pointed AR 15 rifles at his head. The officers finally persuaded the dog to let go.

Officers were at the scene because of a month-old report that Waters had been seen on a relative’s front porch holding a pistol. Portland Police Officer Ryan Foote began an investigation after the initial report which led the Gang Task Force to assign the SERT team to arrest Waters. The pistol turned out to be an Air Soft toy gun.

Waters was charged with disorderly conduct. After the charges were dismissed, Kafoury & McDougal filed suit, and later settled for $47,500.