City to pay man $250,000 after police mistake him as a tagger

PORTLAND, Ore. - The City Council approved a $250,000 settlement Wednesday to a man mistaken by police as a tagger and was hit with a stun gun over and over.

A jury wanted the city to pay for a police officer using excessive force.

Police took down Dan Halsted while he was just innocently walking home. The officer stunned Halsted five times with a Taser in the back because he thought he sprayed some graffiti.

Halsted was tackled by a Portland police officer in the Northeast Portland neighborhood of Sullivan's Gulch four years ago.

"I was walking home and all of a sudden a flashlight came on in my eyes and I stopped, and I heard a voice say, 'Get him!' And I heard footsteps coming at me, so I turned and I ran."

In the pitch dark, Halsted thought he was being jumped.

"I didn't know what was going on," he said. "I was screaming to call the police the whole time, and I didn't realize this was the police because they never identified themselves at all."

Police had mistaken Halsted for a tagger who hit a nearby building.

"The arresting officer in his police report, he made up a whole other story and said that I had been running down the street with a couple other people."

That's the same thing the officer testified to in court when Halsted sued. In reality Halsted had been with friends at the Rose and Thistle Restaurant and was never charged with any crime.

"The whole event was terrifying, but I think the scariest part was their story afterwards - making me sound like a criminal. I think that was the scariest part," he said.

During the trial, the city's attorney tried to use Halsted's classic kung fu film collection against him, saying it proved he was violent. But Halsted is a film collector who works at the Hollywood Theater and said the whole thing completely changed his trust in police and how they use force.

"I was Tased five times, and I was just walking home," he said. "Obviously, something needs to be done about that."

The settlement comes not long after a city audit recommended police limit the times a person's stunned. Most police agencies train officers to stun suspects up to three times.

Portland police doesn't comment on lawsuits but said officers just completed refresher training on Tasers.

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