PORTLAND, Ore. -- The black owners of a northeast Portland restaurant have filed a $3.8 million lawsuit against the city, claiming police violated their constitutional rights by dumping dead opossums in front of their restaurant last March.
The plaintiffs were George and Geraldine Powe, operators of the Burger Barn, a 24-hour restaurant.
Named as defendants were the city of Portland, ten named Portland police officers and an officer identified only as John Doe.
Deputy City Attorney Peter Merserau said Friday he had not yet seen a a copy of the suit, filed in federal court late Thursday, and declined comment.
Officers Craig Ward, 28, and James Gallaway, now 33, admitted that while patrolling in North Precinct the night of March 12, they dumped two dead opossums on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.
They were fired, but later were reinstated after an arbitrators held that the dismissals were excessive punishment handed down without just cause.
The arbitrator's report said Ward killed two opossums by running over them with his patrol car and that he and Gallaway then killed three more by clubbing them to death with their batons. They then allegedly called eight other officers and met with them in a parking lot near the restaurant.
The Powes contended that the police defendants engaged in a conspiracy to deprive them of their constitutional rights.
As a result of the incident, their complaint said, they have received threatening phone calls and police have flashed patrol lights into their home.
The couple said they have suffered emotional distress and continued fear for their own safety and that of their family and friends, and that they will continue to suffer as a consequence of being targeted for racial discrimination.
The suit seeks $1 million in general damages and $2.8 million in punitive damages, contending that the alleged acts by the police were malicious.
The Powes, represented by Wilsonville lawyer Michael Kohlhoff, also are seeking an injunction to prohibit the city from continuing or maintaining any policy or practice of racial discrimination or harassment.
To accomplish this, the Powes asked the court to order the city to submit a plan, to be approved by the court, providing for additional education, training and monitoring of police functions.