“This is about a system that is based on power and fear rather than on dignity and respect, ” Marcia Meyers, Lisa Coppock‘s mother
Lisa Coppock was scheduled to appear in Multnomah County Court on March 16 for misdemeanors for:
theft of services (a $2.50 MAX ticket)
disobeying an officer of the law
Instead, all charges were dropped and the case was dismissed last Thursday. After dozens of court appearances stretching over two years, Lisa stood her ground. She never conceded to the system that charged her, but had no consequences for Portland Police Officer Christopher Humphreys who in the process of arresting Coppock, threw her to the ground and slammed her head into the pavement. Humphreys’ treatment of Coppock while arresting her for allegedly not paying her MAX fare resulted in her being taken to the hospital for stitches before she was taken to jail.
Lisa’s case started in April 2008 when she got on the MAX in Gresham without a ticket. She boarded, planning to pay the appropriate officials and explain that the ticket machine was broken. Lisa was confronted by two police officers she explained her situation and held out her money. One of the the officers then ask her to get off the MAX. When she asked him why she felt a huge amount of rage emanating from the officer and she ran.
Lisa was pursued, thrown to the ground and had her head slammed into the pavement by that same officer. She was then arrested, taken to the hospital, where she received stitches for her head wound and was then taken to jail.
Later when talking with her court-appointed attorney, Coppock found out the officer from whom she had felt the rage and from whom she had fled was Christopher Humphreys. This is the same officer who was involved in the death of James Chasse in 2008,the bean bag shooting of a twelve-year-old girl near the MAX late last year, and the 2003 Chaz Miller case, where Humphreys dragged the wrong man from a truck and beat him with a baton.
Ordinarily, a case like Coppock’s would have been dropped quickly. Instead it dragged out for nearly two years. In the week before the case was dismissed, the charges against Coppock were reduced from misdemeanor to citation. Officer Christopher Humphreys is now implicated in a civil lawsuit in around the death of James Chasse. The Chaz Miller case led to an out-of-court settlement with costs to the city totaling over $133,000.
CASE HAS LARGER MEANING FOR THE COMMUNITY
Lisa and her mother, Marcia Meyers, want to share Lisa’s story with the community at large. They are also working with others to improve police accountability. This week they are joining the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice & Police Reform in urging others to go to the City Council hearing about changes to the Portland police oversight division on Thursday March 18 at 2 PM at City Hall, 1221 SW 4th.
“This is not just about Lisa’s case.” says Meyers. “This is about shining a light on an oppressive system that has many of us living in fear. Lisa and I want to use what we have learned in the last two years to help transform this system to one that is more compassionate and humane.”
READ – Portland officer Christopher Humphreys at heart of another lingering court case, this one over TriMet fare, Oregonian, March 2, 2010
READ – Bad Apple Reputation, New Lawsuit Threatened Against Chasse Cop, Portland Mercury, January 29, 2009