Family of man punched by officer pleased with investigation - KPTV - FOX 12

Family of man punched by police officer pleased with DOJ investigation

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Armando Brambila remembers getting a phone call from the manager of the group home where his father lived.

His father, who has schizophrenia, had wandered out of the home and been found by a Portland police officer. The officer had also punched Fausto Brambila-Naranja in the face multiple times.

"I went to the hospital because my dad was in the hospital. I just saw him with the big eye," Brambila recalled. "They say they try to do the best for him. But I think that was too much."

The Department of Justice agreed.

Brambila-Naranja's case was one of five the DOJ cited as examples of a pattern of officers using excessive force in their interactions with the mentally ill.

On May 15, 2011, a Portland police officer was dispatched to check on a man who was standing outside in the rain for more than an hour.

The person who called police told the dispatcher he suspected the man, later identified as Brambila-Naranja, may have dementia.

According to the police report, the officer approached Brambila-Naranja, who was unresponsive. The officer started walking back to his car to call a Spanish translator and the man followed him.

"I could see his forehead tense up along with his jaw. I have seen this before and I felt like he was getting ready to take a swing at me or take off running," the officer wrote in the report. "Before I could act, the subject tightened up his arms and fists, then tried to kick at me with his right leg."

The officer said he took the man down onto the sidewalk, but he continued to resist.

He wrote, "The subject rolled over and was on his back. I then struck him seven to 10 times in the face as he was trying to grab my hands."

After Brambila-Naranja was handcuffed, the officer called for medical attention. A short time later, he realized the man had previously been reported missing from a group home and identified him.

According to a report, a witness said the officer acted appropriately. "'No, it happened fast. He had to take the guy down,'" the report said.

On Thursday, the DOJ and the city announced they have preliminary agreement in place to address issues.

Police Chief Mike Reese said the bureau was not prepared for the shift from dealing primarily criminal issues to responding to issues related to mental health.

Brambila said he was happy Portland police are working to better handle calls involving people with mental issues.

"There's something they can do about it," he said. "They can learn to treat people like that."

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