The Portland Police Rapid Response Team recently voted to resign as a team following the criminal indictment of an officer for assault during a riot in August 2020.
The officer, Corey Budworth, was deployed to respond to riots in Portland and was charged with one count of fourth-degree assault after hitting activist photographer and rioter Teri Jacobs with a baton. The city of Portland even paid Jacobs $50,000 in a civil settlement related to the incident.
But the police union has a different story, describing Jacobs as a “criminal rioter,” and has defended Officer Budworth who has been caught in the crossfire of purely partisan city leaders and a politicized criminal justice system.
All 50 members of Portland’s police rapid response unit voted unanimously to resign following the indictment of Officer Budworth and said he’d been tasked with dealing with the riot after nearly 75 consecutive nights of violence, destruction, and mayhem.
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There was a group of about 200 protesters on the night officer Budworth responded to the riot. Protesters were wearing tactical helmets, covering their faces, and armed with a variety of weapons. They set dumpsters on fire in the street, defaced buildings, and broke windows. Someone even launched a Molotov cocktail into the Multnomah Building, setting it completely on fire.
According to the police union’s letter, Officer Budworth had been forcefully knocked to the ground as the crowd got more aggressive.
“RRT officers, including Officer Budworth, used their Police Bureau-issued batons to try and stop the crowd’s criminal activity. Per his training and in response to the active aggression of a rioter interfering with a lawful arrest, Officer Budworth used baton pushes to move a rioter, now known to be Teri Jacobs, out of the area. 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 union’s letter said.
They explained that Officer Budworth’s last baton push was accidental, not criminal. They said he was facing a violent and chaotic, rapidly evolving situation, and that he used the lowest level of baton force to remove Ms. Jacobs from the area. They even accused Multnomah District Attorney Mike Schmidt of completely ignoring the violent nature of the crowd and Jacob’s criminal behavior. They wrote that Budworth did exactly how he was trained and that the police bureau should’ve found his actions reasonable, permissible, and in accordance with his training.
“Once the full picture is revealed, we are confident that justice will prevail, and Officer Budworth will be exonerated of all charges. And we look forward to seeing the District Attorney’s office make progress on prosecuting the real criminals who are perpetrating vandalism, arson, gun violence, and other violent crimes in our community. We stand by our officer, truth, and justice,” the union said.
While the Portland police department doesn’t have enough officers to handle large crowds, riot squads such as the Portland Police Rapid Response Team are usually prepared for larger protests. Police would only respond to priority calls, which are usually active assaults or shootings. The officers have agreed that they will no longer work as part of the Rapid Response Team, but that they will remain employed by the police department.
The best way to support the police is to hold accountable the officers who’ve broken the law. It’s not a “systemic problem,” it’s a bunch of bad apples who want to demoralize the police. The future for criminals is looking quite bright…at least in a Dem-run city.