By Associated Press - Friday, May 7, 2021

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Portland city officials said they welcome constructive criticism from federal Justice Department lawyers who found the Police Bureau has failed to adhere to a settlement governing officers’ use of force. But officials also blame the federal government for contributing to the lapses, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

“The conduct of the federal government on the streets of Portland in the summer of 2020 made a difficult situation much worse,” the city attorney wrote in a response Friday to the Justice Department’s April formal notice of non-compliance with a 2014 settlement agreement.

The response cites inappropriate actions by federal agents including the tear gassing of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler at the federal courthouse, a federal agent’s firing of an impact munition at the head of a man standing with his hands in the air, and federal agents’ grabbing of at least two people off the street into an unmarked van.

City attorneys said they’re prepared to explain to a federal judge, if necessary, how the federal government’s conduct contributed to the Police Bureau’s inability to satisfy all the requirements of the settlement agreement.

The response is not expected to draw favor from federal Justice Department lawyers.

If the two sides can’t reach an agreement through mediation over allegations that the city failed to meet key reforms, they’re likely to meet again before U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon.

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