The morning didn’t start out well for Mary.
Just the night before, she had broken up with her boyfriend, a homeless man named Greg. She had gotten up early to pick up her possessions from his tent, hoping that he would be asleep. He woke up, of course. So they started in arguing. Again. Finally, too angry to continue, he stepped out of the tent to smoke and to cool down. She started grabbing her stuff, putting it into a bag, when she heard from outside, “Gresham Police!” Footsteps coming up the path and then, “Well, Schultz, what are you up to today?”
Greg was in no mood for this kind of b.s. today. Certainly not for being patronized by cops who are just going to force him to move out of his space. So he cussed the two cops out. Immediately, they laid him down, cuffed him and kicked him on the ground in order to subdue him.
Mary stepped out of the tent to see what was going on. She saw the two cops kicking her ex and her anger at him quickly transferred. Her dog was barking so she tied him up to a tree near the tent. Then she approached an officer and said, “You can’t be doing that! You have no right to be kicking him! Give me your card so I can report you!”
Officer Durbin wasn’t having a bad morning, as mornings go. He had gotten up early, as was his wont, to get some overtime in. He was proud of his overtime pay. Just two years before he was one of the top ten paid Gresham city employees because of his overtime. So he and his friend Van Beek went out to do a homeless sweep in the “Swamp”, where many homeless camped.
But he wasn’t one to take any resistance or any backtalk. So when this unknown woman surprised him by coming out of the tent quickly (he thought Schultz was there on his own), and began demanding something from him (he didn’t know what), he immediately saw her as a danger. She was some homeless woman, obviously camping with Schultz, and coming out to defend him. He could tell, because her face was red and her eyes were wide and her face scarred with tears. So, in fear, he threw her to the ground and started screaming, “Don’t resist, don’t resist!” He placed his knee on her back to make sure she didn’t move.
Mary was in extreme pain. She had a kidney condition, for which she had been hospitalized for in the past. The cop threw her down on her stomach and then put his knee right on her kidney, placing most of his 220 pound bulk on top of her. She, being a hundred pounds lighter than he, couldn’t move. But the pain was so severe that the arm that was free (the other was under herself) flailed about. To his cries of “Don’t resist” she tried to respond, “I’m not!” but it only came out a whisper that wasn’t heard over the officers shouts.
Schultz, meanwhile, was officially subdued by Officer Van Beek. He lay there, in cuffs, on his stomach. But with his face toward the action, he was able to yell, “Leave her alone!” along with some choice titles for Officer Durbin that perhaps wouldn’t be called respectful.
Officer Durbin, however, had his own concerns, for this woman’s arm was reaching back toward him, attempting to hit him. He pulls out his taser unit and warns her, “If you don’t stop resisting, I’m going to use a taser on you!” He heard no response and her hand didn’t stop trying to hit him. So he tased her on the thigh with 20 thousand volts. She jerked, but she her arm didn’t stop. He tased her again. She still didn’t stop. He tased her again. And again. Finally, she passed out and Officer Durbin breathed a sigh of relief.
Finally he could pay attention to Schultz. In the midst of this action, Schultz never stopped cussing the officer out. After all this, Durbin had had enough, turned to Schultz and yelled, “I could kill you, you know!” Schultz just mocked him. Durbin stares at Schultz and then places his hand upon the woman’s neck and tells Schultz to shut up. Schultz finally remains silent.
Just after this, the reinforcements that Van Beek requested arrived. Schultz was arrested with the charge of unlawful camping, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Schultz also had a previous warrant he was taken in for. Mary was arrested on disorderly conduct, offensive physical conduct, resisting arrest and unlawful camping, although she had never been charged with any criminal activity before.
Schultz eventually went to prison on another charge. Mary was acquitted of all charges and eventually won $20,000 in damages from Officer Durbin and the City of Gresham.
Interviewed for a deposition for the second trial, Officer Jeff Durbin answered the following questions of Mary’s attorney:
Attorney: Officer Durbin, what kind of taser do you have?
Durbin: (Gives the model number)
Attorney: Were you given this taser by the city?
Durbin: Yes, I was.
Attorney: Were you trained on this taser.
Durbin: Yes. Every officer who received a taser received training on use of the taser.
Attorney: Have you ever had the taser used on you?
Durbin: Yes, in my training.
Attorney: Do all officers have to be tasered in their training?
Durbin: No, I volunteered.
Attorney: How did it feel?
Durbin: It was painful. Very painful. I wouldn’t want to have it happen to me again, that’s for sure.
Attorney: Doesn’t this model have the ability to keep track of how many times it was used?
Durbin: Yes, every use of it is programmed in it.
Attorney: So why is there no record of how many times you used the taser on the day in question?
Durbin: It got wet.
Attorney: So, you are saying that the taser got wet, and so it no longer kept track of your use of it that day.
Durbin: Yes, that’s right.
Attorney: Did you know, Officer, that this particular taser is banned from use in all of Europe and in about a third of the cities of the United States?
Durbin: No, I was not aware of that.
Attorney: Have you used this taser previous to the day in question?
Durbin: Yes, I have.
Attorney: How many times.
Attorney: So you haven’t used the taser frequently?
Durbin: Not at all.
Attorney: Describe to me a situation in which you used the taser before.
Durbin: There was a man on a bicycle and I pulled him over to give him a ticket. He started acting with hostility toward me, so I warned him that if he didn’t back off, I would use the taser. He continued to be hostile, so I used it.
Attorney: About what was the man’s size?
Durbin: He was about my height, but not my bulk. So perhaps about 200 pounds, but I’m just guessing.
Attorney: And what was his response to your use of the taser?
Durbin: At first, he stopped in his tracks. Then he kept coming, so I used it again. Then he fell to the ground.
Attorney: So you used it twice?
Durbin: That’s right.
Attorney: How many times did you use the taser on Ms. MacQuire?
Durbin: I don’t know. Perhaps three or four times.
Attorney: Why so many?
Durbin: She didn’t stop resisting.
Attorney: Officer Durbin, why did you throw Ms. MacQuire to the ground on the day in question?
Durbin: I was scared. You should have seen her. She was wild eyed and out of control. And she came out of nowhere. Anything could have happened.
Attorney: Did you assume she was homeless?
Durbin: Of course. She came out of the tent that Schultz was sitting in front of.
Attorney: And you already knew Mr. Schultz?
Durbin: Yes, we were acquainted.
Attorney: From where?
Durbin: Routine stops. I’ve met Schultz at his camps before.
Attorney: Where you’ve had to move him out of his camp?
Attorney: Have you ever seen him act the way he did that day before?
Durbin: No, never.
Attorney: There’s something I just don’t understand, Officer Durbin. Why would you, a good sized, tall man, trained in police tactics, carrying a gun and a taser, be afraid of a hundred and twenty pound small woman like Ms. MacQuire?
Durbin: You had to have been there.
Attorney: I suppose so.
(The previous story is true, although the events of the day and the transcript of the deposition have been streamlined for the story. The events described are based on transcripts from the original court case, and depositions with Mary MacQuire, Greg Schultz, Officer Ted Van Beek and Officer Jeffery Durbin. Check the links for news articles about the case.)