A 24-year-old New York City woman won't be getting the chance to post a #PDXcarpet selfie on social media after a recent trip through Portland Int'l. Her feet never got a chance to touch the renowned rug inside the terminal. On February 24, Port of Portland police officers surrounded her outside a TSA checkpoint, accused her of being too drunk to care for herself, tackled her face-first into the ground, and did their All-American, high-school-football-hero best to make sure she didn't get to fly out to Tampa to visit her mother.
Tina Campos, a 24-year-old Latina graphic artist and craft cocktail bartender from Brooklyn, arrived several hours early for a 4:30 am departure. Only instead of passing through security and killing time in the shops and restaurants inside, an all-male cop squad insisted that a young woman of color showing up at 10:00 pm for an early morning departure could only mean one thing: she was obviously too intoxicated to know what day it was.
Forgoing field sobriety tests and a Breathalyzer, officers explained they had no choice but to take her in to protect her, to make sure nothing bad would happen to her, because keeping her safe was their number one priority -- right before piledriving her face into the ground, hogtying her ankles and wrists, and laying her across the floor of a holding cell while eight male officers crowded over her.
As a result of the incident, Campos missed her flight, her family trip, several days of work, and she received a black eye (visible in the booking photo below), bruises, a chipped tooth, injuries to her wrists and ankles, and harassing messages from strangers on her social media accounts and at her workplace.
Port of Portland Police claim they were justified, writing in their official government report that, "Ms. Campos was loudly cursing and arguing", "crying and yelling", "highly agitated while talking and was cursing and making wide hand motions", "yelling loudly at the officers", "continue to yell and curse loudly at officers", "crying and would switch between crying and yelling in anger within seconds", "waving her hands around," and "continued to ramp up."
Taking them at their word, it sounds like an open-and-shut case. Multiple sworn officers of the peace filed an official government document under the pains and penalties of perjury in a court of law, and in the report they averred eight different times that in the moments before they detained the woman she was ramping up, screaming, and wildly out of control.
The officers wouldn't exaggerate, embellish, and fabricate details against a young woman they'd never met before, right? Not when they knew a fully functioning airport surveillance video system was rolling tape the entire time. No one could be that brazen, or stupid, right?
In the footage above, which this writer reviewed several dozen times because he couldn't believe what his eyes were seeing, Campos appears visibly annoyed that she is being taken into custody. But that's it: she's annoyed. If you watch the video closely, keeping an eye out for the specific conduct enumerated in the report, you'll notice there are no visible or audible signs of screaming, no mouth opening wide and closing, no gnashing teeth, no spittle flying, tongue wagging, or eyes squinting with rage.
In the entire video, the worst Campos appears to do is turn her body away from officers for a moment in frustration. And that's literally it. There's no "veering back and forth between crying and yelling in anger," "loudly cursing and arguing," "waving her hands around," or anything else that comes close to the extreme behavior described in the police report. For example, the "waving her hands" and "wide hand motions" mentioned in the report? Well, that would be her at the 00:12s mark running her hand through her hair, and pushing her bangs to the side of her face at 00:14s. Yes, seriously.
Incredibly, the officer's mischaracterizations become more brazen than this as the report continues. One of the officers claims he saw Campos "throwing her boarding pass and ID at the officer."
In the footage above, the officer on Campos's right -- read: NOT Campos -- places her boarding pass on top of her bag. As he does, the video shows her watching him, spotting where her bag is, and then no-look tossing her ID on top of it. Not only does the video show that the officer was exaggerating, mistaken, or lying (because she clearly did not throw her boarding pass or ID at any officer, as the report states), but it also clearly shows her exhibiting a level of hand-eye coordination and presence of mind that would be impossible for someone too intoxicated to care for herself.
This last misstatement makes, at this writer's count, NINE mischaracterizations of fact, and, yet, they still aren't done.
The report states that the same officer, the one on Campos's right, "advised Campos she needed to relax and she was going to detox to sober up. Campos then used her right leg in a rearward kick into my leg and knee."
The video above shows that this characterization, of her kicking him because he tells her she's being taken into custody, rather than for some other reason, is straight-up perjury by omission. In the video, the officer can clearly be seen planting his boot and then using his height and weight advantage to drive Campos's wrist and arm the wrong way into the arch of her back, as if he's trying to dislocate her shoulder. And it's at this moment, in response to him using a clearly unnecessary level of force on her for no apparent reason, that she appears to kick back at him in pain, as a matter of reflex.
Not only does the officer's report omit this, but the report chronologically arranges the telling of events around the omission to portray Campos as kicking him for no reason, completely unprovoked. This last mischaracterization, which at this writer's count makes TEN, is the most probative of all concerning officer credibility.
Under Oregon law, when police use excessive force without justification, civilians are legally permitted to use a reasonable amount of force in self defense. Which would explain why the officer neglected to mention that he nearly twisted Campos's arm off: if his use of this level of force during what could and should have been a routine arrest was excessive, and the video clearly seems to indicate it was, then what Campos did was legal and she shouldn't have been charged.
Yet despite being in possession of the same video footage as this writer, the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office has filed criminal charges against Campos. It remains to be seen whether the DA's office will conduct a thorough review of the video evidence and dismiss and expunge all charges.
It also remains to be seen whether the DA's office will file charges against the officers, or, at the very least, add their names to a do-not-call list given how much incontrovertible evidence demonstrates a clear penchant for exaggeration, mischaracterization, and omission of fact in sworn government charging documents.
[Following this incident, several news outlets covered this story and prominently posted Campos's mugshot, smearing her name. In the weeks following, a white man her age was accused of anonymously bombing and murdering people in Austin, TX. The media used a boyish picture of him smiling brightly]