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Jury Rejects Claims Eugene Police Used Excessive Force

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A federal jury has ruled in favor of Eugene Police in an excessive force civil lawsuit against the department. The case was brought by a woman and her son who were arrested after calling for help because the young man was in mental health crisis.

In July, 2015, Aiysha Elliott called CAHOOTS, a mobile crisis response unit, but police came to her home instead. Elliott claims she and her son, who are black, were brutalized by police, who escalated the situation.

Elliott: “I brought it to court because it was so out of line and it was so aggressive and it was, in my point of view, so unnecessary, that I felt we had to push it forward so that it could be seen and be heard.”

Elliott says she is still experiencing pain from that night. She claims Sergeant Bill Solesbees shoved her down and beat her head beat against the ground. Elliott says she’ll appeal the pretrial dismissal of claims of racial discrimination and false arrest. In a statement EPD Chief Pete Kerns says this was a difficult and dangerous call for which officers are well trained.

Full Statement from Police Chief Kerns:

This was a difficult and dangerous call for which our officers are well trained. These are dynamic situations and we realize how challenging they are for the officers who are called to respond and upsetting for the people involved for whom these are so traumatic.

Web extra: Ayisha Elliott talks about the role of race in the case.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s former News Director. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000. After reporting for the Northwest News Network and KAZU, Rachael returned to KLCC in 2007 as Morning Edition host and a general assignment reporter covering politics, the environment, education, and the arts. She was hired as KLCC News Director in 2018. Rachael departed KLCC in June, 2022.
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