Lawsuit against man killed in Portland protests dismissed | National government and new policies

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A judge has dismissed a federal lawsuit filed against the city of Portland, the mayor and the Multnomah County prosecutor by the estate of a man who was fatally shot after a car rally pro Trump.

The lawsuit had alleged that negligence around increasingly violent clashes between competing groups in Portland had created an environment that encouraged lawlessness and led to the murder of Aaron “Jay” Danielson.

But U.S. Magistrate Judge Youlee Yim You found the city and mayor took no specific action that put Danielson at greater risk on Aug. 29, 2020, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. She dismissed the trial’s claims of due process and negligence.

The judge noted that members of the public have no constitutional right to sue public employees who fail to protect them from harm inflicted by third parties.

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A “state-created danger exception” to this rule applies when government employees affirmatively place the complainant in a position of danger, but that did not happen in this case, according to the opinion.

The lawsuit does not allege, for example, that the city government or the mayor directed Danielson to where he was shot, prevented him from leaving, had contact with him, or knew of its downtown presence,” You wrote.

Michael Reinoehl, a self-proclaimed anti-fascist who said he provided security for racial justice protests in Portland, appears to have targeted Danielson, according to surveillance camera video of the shooting. Reinoehl, 48, fired two shots as Danielson strolled downtown after the rally, according to a police affidavit.

Danielson, 39, died of a bullet to the chest, according to an autopsy. Danielson had been with his friend Chandler Pappas and both wore Patriot Prayer hats, signifying their support for the far-right group based in Vancouver, Washington.

Reinoehl was fatally shot days later outside a Washington apartment complex by agents from a multi-agency federal task force who moved to arrest him on a murder warrant.

Attorney Christopher L. Cauble, representing Danielson’s estate, had argued that the city had failed to separate protesters and counter-protesters. He also argued that the mayor had urged police to avoid engaging with crowds “unless a life safety situation” develops.

The judge found that this was not enough to support the allegations in the trial.

“At best, these actions may have increased the general risk inherent in anyone downtown at the time; however, the doctrine of state-created danger requires showing that state actors created a particular risk specific to the injured individual,” You wrote.

The lawsuit also alleged that the city and mayor, by providing only a “skeletal police presence” with instructions for officers to stay out of sight and away from protesters, encouraged people to engage in violent behavior.

Still, the judge said such actions were not specific to Danielson but rather “targeted at the general public.”

The lawsuit’s allegations are different from a case brought in Seattle when that city “abruptly deserted” the Seattle Police Department’s east compound in the Capitol Hill neighborhood amid civil rights protests in June 2020, a noted the judge.

Seattle is accused of encouraging participants in the Capitol Hill Organized Demonstration, or CHOP, to wall off the area and “agreed to a ‘no-response’ zone within and near CHOP’s borders” — allegations sufficient to support the claim that the city’s actions “predictably placed the plaintiffs in a worse position than they would have been” without any intervention from the city, You said in its decision.

In that lawsuit, the judge also ruled that District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s decision not to prosecute cases that “do not involve willful property damage, theft, or threat of force against another person” was protected by immunity from prosecution.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon on Thursday adopted You’s findings and ordered the lawsuit against the city, the mayor and Schmidt dismissed with prejudice, meaning it cannot be refiled.

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