Disabled Photographer Sues Portland Police Over Traumatic Brain Injury Allegedly Caused by Officer

Disabled Photographer Sues Portland Police Over Traumatic Brain Injury Allegedly Caused by Officer

A disabled Oregon photographer is suing a Portland police officer and the Portland Police Bureau after a 2018 incident in which he alleges the officer knocked him unconscious while he was photographing a protest, causing a traumatic brain injury and PTSD.

Leo Hall is a 60-year-old photographer from Lane County, Oregon. Hall's lawsuit alleges that on August 4, 2018, he and his wife drove to Portland to visit their relatives. Hall uses a cane for mobility assistance. Upon entering Portland, the couple encountered a clash between Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group, and a collection of antifascist counter-protestors. 

At that point, Hall decided to photograph the clash. During that time, Portland Police were ordered to clear the demonstration and began firing flashbang and tear gas grenades into the crowd while ordering the protestors to disperse. Hall's lawsuit alleges that he could not move as quickly as other people due to his disability, at which point he was confronted by officer Spenser Perry. Hall then asked Perry for his name and badge number, at which point Perry instead responded by "turning his metal baton sideways in both hands, and bashing it into Mr. Hall's chest and arms." Hall then fell to the ground and was knocked unconscious, at which point Perry stepped over him without checking on his condition. 

Hall's lawsuit claims he suffered a traumatic brain injury, a concussion, and PTSD from the incident. The lawsuit also says Hall's general demeanor has been permanently affected and has caused difficulties with his marriage. As such he is suing officer Perry for assault, battery, and excessive force, as well as the Portland Police Bureau for failure to properly train Perry. Hall is asking for $250,000 in damages. 

The incident is not the only one associated with the day's events; another protestor was hospitalized after being struck in the head by one of the flash grenades fired by the police. Police eventually discontinued the use of flashbang grenades after an investigation.

The police have declined to comment on the case. 

Lead image by Flickr user Old White Truck, modified to blur word on protestor's sign and used under Creative Commons.

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9 Comments

Stoopy McPheenis's picture

If true, it definitely sounds like excessive force and the officer should be held accountable. That said, one does wonder why an elderly person with mobility issues would think a clash between antifa and the proud boys would be a fun place to practice street photography......

Johnny Rico's picture

also riot police breaking up a violent protest and he stands there asking for a badge number

Robert Nurse's picture

I don't think "fun" was mentioned in the article. It doesn't mention that he was a credentialed journalist. But, wanting to record what seemed like a newsworthy event isn't out of the ordinary. He might have uncovered something relevant.

Stoopy McPheenis's picture

I'm not saying that only credentialed journalists should cover newsworthy events. I'm simply saying that making a spur-of-the-moment decision to get involved in a violent politcal confrontation in a city you're unfamiliar with is likely to result in threats to your safety. Add in the fact that he has mobility issues, it just seems like he put himself in a very dangerous situation. Nobody deserves to be roughed up by a cop, but he could have been injured in any number of ways. It's just something for all of us to keep in mind before jumping into a serious and dangerous environment without preparation.

Robert Nurse's picture

But, that's where some of the most compelling photographs were hatched. A photographer just happened to have his camera in the right place and the right time. I wonder if he would have been assaulted if he were carrying a large camera marked CNN or CBS News.

Stoopy McPheenis's picture

It's his choice whether or not to put himself in harm's way. I agree with you, some incredible photos have been produced as a result of such risk. But, with that risk, comes the possibility of negative consequences. Again, not saying he deserves to be brutalized, just noting the fact that he chose to put himself in a dangerous and volitile situation-- one that he was seemingly unprepared for.

yeah, heard it all before. Lets see the video.

Jeff Walsh's picture

Some very odd choices happening in this story. Regardless, the officer is in the wrong, if the story is as it reads here. I'm sure someone has video. I'd very much be interested in seeing it.

I would ask for 10 mil in the suite or more.