A Portland man was walking home from dinner with friends one night when he saw a flashlight shined in his direction and the words, “Get Him!” shouted. Blinded by the light and unsure of who was behind it, he ran. As the footsteps caught up to him, he was tased, forced into the ground and restrained.
Daniel Halsted suffered facial and hand lacerations as well as facial fractures that night, which he calls the “most traumatic” of his life. But his version is quite different from the version told by arresting officer Benjamin J. Davidson.
Officer Davidson claims he was called to the area on a report of vandalism. As he arrived, he saw three suspects running toward him. When he shouted, two took off behind some houses and the other, who he claims was Halsted, ran onto the sidewalk. It was when he refused to stop at the direction of Davidson that Halsted was tased and brought to the ground.
Davidson says Halsted resisted arrest. He initially cited him with criminal mischief and resisting arrest, but the prosecutor didn’t file charges.
Current law allows officers in the city to use a Taser “when a person engages in, or displays the intent to engage in physical resistance or aggressive physical resistance,” according to OregonLive.com. However, this policy is less strict than those followed by other police agencies.
A recent ruling in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says Tasers should be only used as an “intermediate use of force” when there is an immediate threat against the safety of the police officers or someone else. Officers are being trained on this ruling but no formal policy changes have been made.
No criminal charges were filed against Halsted or against Officer Davidson, but Halsted did win a victory in civil court where a jury ruled excessive force was used against him. He was awarded over $200,000.
During the trial, attorneys for the city brought up the fact that Halsted collected Kung Fu movies, asking if he had ever been trained in martial arts. The head film programmer at Portland’s Hollywood Theatre responded that he had not.
This tendency to dig into a person’s past and their personal life is normal in both civil and criminal cases. If you are charged with a crime, you can bet that the prosecutor will do whatever possible to make you look like a criminal. It’s your defense lawyer’s job to ensure this tactic doesn’t work.