City after city across the United States has taken to prosecuting law enforcement officers for doing their jobs. Many have been brought up on use of force charges when their actions have been well within their department guidelines.
In Portland, Oregon, the Multnomah County district attorney has declined to file charges in 12 cases involving the Portland police and rioters. Mike Schmidt, the Multnomah County District Attorney, had 21 cases from 2020 that involved Portland officers and protestors.
A number of the cases were found by prosecutors looking at civil lawsuits and social media posts, specifically to find times when officers may have used too much force.
One of the memos compiled by the office read, “The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office became aware of some of those incidents through complaints received directly, civil lawsuits filed against the city of Portland, social media posts, circulating videos, and referrals from plaintiff’s attorneys.”
According to Schmidt, 12 of the cases have been closed, and no charges will be filed against the officers. In most of the cases, the prosecutors saw that there was no crime committed.
The other cases had no cooperation from the supposed victims or their attorneys. There were also some instances where the officers were not able to be identified. In all of those cases, the charges were dropped.
In total, eight of the cases were closed because of a lack of involvement from the victims or their attorneys.
“The law is on a police officer’s side in doing their job, they can use force. So, for us, the analysis is: Is the use of force not allowed by law? Is it so excessive that we could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are not allowed to use that amount of force?”Mike Schmidt
According to Oregon state law, prosecutors have to look at cases from the officer’s point of view. Schmidt said they would have to prove that the officer’s “perception of what was going on is completely inaccurate.”
Since he could not prove that, 12 of the cases were closed. As of right now, eight cases are still being investigated.
Schmidt thinks that these may, in fact, bring criminal charges. Whether or not these officers were also just doing their jobs will so be determined.