$50,000 Excessive Force Verdict

Johnson v. Multnomah County, Multnomah County Case No. 18CV23284


On November 12, 2016, there were protests in downtown Portland after the presidential election. Plaintiff Johnson was waiting for a tri-met train after work.  Portland police used a sound truck to notify people that they were closing a two-block radius around Pioneer Square and that everyone must leave.  Johnson remained in the area, was hit with pepper spray, and arrested.  Johnson claimed that he did not hear the messages from the sound truck, or the orders police claim they gave him in person.


Johnson’s complaint alleged claims for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and false arrest.  He also filed a conversion claim for his skateboard and personal property which officers confiscated and disposed of.  He sought $300,000 in non-economic damages for his pain, embarrassment, fear and humiliation and $270 for the value of his personal property.


Multnomah County argued that Johnson heard the lawful orders to leave the area made by the sound truck and the officers.  They claimed that Johnson appeared to be physically resisting a lawful arrest.


Plaintiff’s Counsel – Drake Aehegma and Neil Weingart

Defense Counsel – Nathan Sramek

Verdict – $50,270.00 (Jury found that the arrest was lawful but excessive force was used)

Date – October 11, 2019

November 7, 2019

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