Portland, police not liable for protester's injuries

Jury finds officers did not use excessive force in Nov. 2011

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PORTLAND -- A seven-person jury has found the city of Portland and two of its police officers not liable for an Occupy Portland protester's injuries.

The Oregon jury took four hours to return a verdict saying that the officers did not use excessive force when one of them struck protester Liz Nichols in the throat with a baton and the other one sprayed her open mouth with pepper spray.

The officers' defense team said in closing arguments that the police were doing their job in a difficult situation during the November 2011 protests.

Despite the loss, Nichols' attorneys say they're happy the issue has been aired publicly and that attention has been trained on the police reaction to demonstrations.

Kenneth Kreuscher, one of Nichols' attorneys, said the officers went beyond their orders to secure a bank branch during an Occupy Portland protest in November 2011.

Kreuscher said the officers took it upon themselves to do more than secure the bank, and instead, moved to clear an entire sidewalk choked with protesters. Nichols was nearly 50 feet from the bank entrance when she was sprayed, dragged behind a police line and arrested, he said. Police then washed the spray off her face, he said.

Nichols originally sought $155,000, but changed that amount to $30,000.

David Landrum, lead attorney for the city, said the protest was unruly and officers were afraid of violence when they reacted.

"Those officers didn't have a chance to have a committee meeting about it with the incident commander," Landrum said. "And when they're instructed, they go."