PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - An investigation into controversial text message exchanges between Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson and a Portland Police Bureau lieutenant has concluded.
After a months-long independent review into Lt. Jeff Niiya’s actions, the bureau and the mayor’s office hosted a press conference Thursday to announce the results.
Chief Danielle Outlaw said the allegations of misconduct against Niiya were unfounded. The Portland Police Bureau stated, “There was not a sustained finding for any allegation at any level of review.”
Niiya was working as a crowd control liaison when he came under fire for a series of texts surrounding protests in Portland.
In one of the text messages, Lt. Jeff Niiya gave Joey Gibson a heads up about a Patriot Prayer member ahead of a protest, saying, “BTW, make sure Tiny has his court stuff taken care of. I was told on the radio at the Jamison Square Event he had a warrant. I told them we would not be arresting Tiny right now. So please be sure he’s good to go before coming down.”
In another text, Niiya appears to give Gibson tactical information during a rally saying, “Now’s a great time to break down the rally and be able to leave. We have a large group of Antifa trying to flank us and you. We are stopping them for now… but not sure how long.”
Outlaw said the Independent Police Review found “no evidence of policy violations.”
- 2/14: PPB launches investigation into text messages between lieutenant and Patriot Prayer leader
- 2/15: Portland mayor, police association respond to release of protest text messages
- 2/19: Police association files HR complaint against Portland officials over response to protest texts
- 2/21: Community listening session set as debate continue over police protest text messages
Mayor Ted Wheeler had previously called the contents of the interactions between Niiya and Gibson “disconcerting,” but on Thursday offered up a different response.
“In retrospect, it would have been better had I been more overt about giving Lt. Niiya the benefit of the doubt,” Wheeler said.
Outlaw blamed what she called two “narrowly tailored public records requests,” which she said, “lacked context,” for the backlash over the text messages.
She said the release of the texts had a huge impact on the community, Niiya and his family.
However, Outlaw said this experience – the IPR looked at more than 11,000 text messages during its investigation – has changed the way PPB’s liaisons will interact with protest organizers. They have all been ordered to complete additional training.
Niiya no longer works as a crowd control liaison and was reassigned to PPB’s professional standards division.
After Thursday’s press conference, Niiya released a statement saying, in part, “I wish to thank everyone who supported me through this investigation. I appreciate the thoroughness and expediency of the investigation by IPR and the subsequent findings by Chief Outlaw.”
Niiya said with this finally behind him, he’s looking forward to continuing to serve the police bureau and the people of Portland.
The bureau posted online the documentation from the investigation, transcripts from interviews and the communications between Niiya and demonstration organizers.
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