Portland Police Officer Cleared in Excessive Force Suit

Edward Benjamin, Jr. and Kasia Park, members of Drummond Woodsum’s Trial Services Group, successfully defended a 29 year veteran of the Portland Police Department in a federal civil rights trial that concluded on October 11, 2016. After a three day trial in U.S. District Court, the jury found in favor of Officer Cynthia Rumery-Taylor and rejected Plaintiff’s claim that Officer Taylor had used excessive force against her while making an arrest, in violation of her Fourth Amendment rights.

The claim against Officer Taylor arose when she was asked to go to the home of 55 year old Plaintiff Mary Lou Wendell on October 10, 2014 to “keep the peace” during a child custody exchange between Plaintiff and her estranged husband. Plaintiff’s husband also complained that she had violated a no trespass order at his home earlier that day, and sought enforcement of the order by having a summons for criminal trespass issued against her. Plaintiff refused to submit to a temporary detention so that Officer Taylor could issue the criminal trespass summons to her, and so she was placed under arrest for the crime of refusing to submit to detention. In her trial testimony, Plaintiff admitted resisting Officer Taylor’s efforts to take her into custody, but alleged that Officer Taylor used an excessive level of force while overcoming her resistance and taking her into custody.

Wendell later filed suit and Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck ordered an internal investigation of the incident and her allegations. Chief Sauschuck determined Officer Taylor had not violated any department policies and had not used excessive force. The police department vigorously defended Officer Taylor throughout the lawsuit. Chief Sauschuck said “The jury heard the same evidence I did and came to the same conclusion, Officer Taylor did nothing wrong. This verdict brings an end to a long legal battle. Lawsuits and trials like this create significant stress on officers and their families.”

Chief Sauschuck notes that Officer Taylor has served the Peaks Island community with distinction for many years. She spent time getting to know it’s residents and working to help solve problems in this unique Portland neighborhood. She has never been disciplined.

The Chief thanked Attorneys Edward Benjamin Jr. and Kasia Park of Drummond Woodsum for their expert representation of Officer Taylor, Saying “Attorneys Benjamin and Park are both exceptional litigators who were able to paint a clear picture for the jury. We were fortunate to have their experience and skills working to defend Officer Taylor.”