Frank Waterhouse v. City of Portland, et al

Benjamin Wright Haile

Case Conclusion Date:September 15, 2009

Practice Area:Civil Rights

Outcome:victory

Description:Portland Police officers entered a private yard in search of an alleged jaywalker. They broke several windows on a car in the course of their search. Residents became upset and asked the officers what they were doing. They were given no explanation. Frank Waterhouse began recording the actions of the officers with a video camera. Shortly thereafter, an officer said that he was the alleged jaywalker, and seven officers converged on him with weapons drawn. When Mr. Waterhouse did not immediately follow an order to put the camera down, he was simultaneously shot with a less-lethal shotgun and a taser. When he fell to the ground, police officers jumped on top of him and pressed his body and his face into the ground and struck him. Mr. Waterhouse sought an apology, a commitment to policy change, and modest monetary compensation before resorting to a civil lawsuit. The City of Portland, on behalf of the officers, rejected all offers to compromise before and after he filed suit. The case proceeded to a four day jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon in September 2009. Witnesses included former Portland Police Chief Roseanne Sizer, former Bellevue, Washington police chief Donald Van Blaricom, the officers involved, and residents and guests on the property. Mr. Waterhouse had not sought medical attention due to lack of insurance and a preference to avoid going to the doctor except when absolutely necessary. He requested only compensation for the physical pain, fear, and humiliation that he experienced. The jury awarded him $55,000 in damages.