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Regional Interests

OHSU nurse sues city of Portland, police officer over violent protest arrest

The Multnomah County District Attorneys Office is considering charges against another Portland Police Bureau Officer Thomas Clark, center with mask, stemming from last summer's protests. This photo shows Clark and another officer wearing gloves with hardened plastic knuckles.
The Multnomah County District Attorneys Office is considering charges against another Portland Police Bureau Officer Thomas Clark, center with mask, stemming from last summer's protests. This photo shows Clark and another officer wearing gloves with hardened plastic knuckles.

Protest medic Tyler Cox, who works as an intensive care unit nurse at Oregon Health and Sciences University, filed a lawsuit on Thursday in federal court against the city of Portland and the police officer who arrested him last summer.

Cox claims his constitutional rights were violated on Aug. 31 when Officer Thomas Clark tackled him to the pavement after police had declared a riot. Video of the incident shows Cox was moving with the crowd away from the officers.

“At this moment, Mr. Cox believed he was going to die,” the 27-page complaint states, alleging Clark punched Cox in the face and head “a minimum of five times.” The lawsuit also states Cox “can be heard moaning in pain as Defendant Clark strikes him, again and again.”

OPB reported last week that the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office is investigating Clark, and is considering criminal charges. Last month, District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced a misdemeanor assault charge against a police officer for allegedly hitting a protester in the head and neck from behind as she walked away from police. Schmidt also referred another case to the Oregon Department of Justice for possible charges. That contributed to the police bureau’s entire Rapid Response Team resigning from their voluntary positions on the team, though they kept their jobs within the bureau itself.

“During this attack, defendant Clark wore ‘tactical’ gloves with raised plastic knuckles intended to inflict more damage on his victim ...” Cox’s lawsuit states. “Approximately one month prior to his attack on Plaintiff [Cox], Defendant Clark was photographed wearing gloves with raised plastic knuckles while working at another protest.”

Cox’s injuries included a traumatic brain injury that’s improved but not fully resolved, his attorney Joe Piucci told OPB.

After he was arrested, Cox was brought to OHSU’s emergency room for evaluation.

Police charged Cox with assaulting a public safety officer, a felony, and three misdemeanors including resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Those charges were dropped in November, records show.

It’s the city’s practice to not comment on pending litigation.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting