PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The City Council in Portland, Oregon, on Wednesday unanimously approved of paying $100,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed against police by a man who said he was pepper sprayed, thrown to the ground and unlawfully arrested during a September 2020 protest.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that 40-year-old Dmitri Stoyanoff sued the police, saying he was arrested because he refused to relinquish the “Vote Register Here” sign he was holding during a demonstration in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The settlement is the latest in a string of payouts — totaling at least $335,000 this year — stemming from police actions during protests dating back to 2016.
“(Last year) exposed a lot for us about the systems that we as a council and as a community needed to change,” Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said during a city council meeting.
Stoyanoff said police on Sept. 28, 2020, tried to take his sign “for no legal reason,” and when he struggled to hold on to it, he was sprayed in the face and eyes, thrown to the ground, kicked, handcuffed and accused of interfering with police. The charge was dropped at his initial arraignment, according to court records.
Stoyanoff’s sign was mounted on a lightweight three-quarter-inch PVC pipe.
City attorneys initially responded to the lawsuit, saying the officers were authorized to temporarily seize the pole from Stoyanoff’s sign for safekeeping, citing it as a dangerous and deadly weapon. They argued the police acted lawfully in responding to or attempting to prevent a civil commotion or riot.