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Woman files lawsuit against police officers, city

Alleging her civil rights were violated, a Hillsboro woman has filed a lawsuit against the city of Hillsboro in U.S. District Court in Portland. Also named as defendants in the complaint are Hillsboro Police Department Sgt. Michael Leader and Officer Alonzo Garcia.

In an Oct. 22 filing by attorney Edward Kroll of the Kroll & Johnson, P.C., law firm of Hillsboro, the plaintiff, Kami R. Rust, claimed “because of her unlawful arrest, detention and incarceration … the city of Hillsboro is liable for violating …the Civil Rights Act … (and) individually listed defendants are liable for assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

The lawsuit stems from an Oct. 28, 2012, incident in which Hillsboro police officers were dispatched to the Tanasbourne Terrace Apartments on Northwest Evergreen Parkway following a report of a verbal disturbance.

According to the legal filing, the plaintiff came out of her apartment when police arrived and told the responding officers there was no problem. She said her boyfriend was inside sleeping and she was OK.

When the officers asked Rust to explain what had been happening inside the apartment, the officers determined that Rust was becoming uncooperative and subsequently placed her in handcuffs. However, after Rust explained the events of the evening, the officers uncuffed Rust and left the scene.

As the officers left the apartment complex, Rust’s boyfriend, Derrek Brent, called the emergency 9-1-1 dispatch center and reported that “the police or someone impersonating the police had attacked his girlfriend.”

The lawsuit alleges that when Sgt. Leader arrived at the scene, Leader and Garcia grabbed Brent, threw him to the ground and forcibly restrained him. The narrative in the lawsuit further alleges that when Brent was restrained, Rust attempted to reach out to Brent, at which time the officers grabbed Rust “by the hair and threw her to the ground.”

While the plaintiff was pinned, the suit alleges that Leader struck Rust at least three times, slammed her head into a wall and pinned it there, and threatened her with further injuries if she did not “shut up.”

“As a result of the unlawful and excessive force used by defendants Leader and Garcia, plaintiff (Rust) sustained serious physical injuries,” reads an excerpt of the complaint.

In the wake of the incident, Rust was charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest. However, she was acquitted of the charge after a trial before a Washington County jury in 2013.

Rust is reportedly seeking an award of economic damages, non-economic damages, punitive damages where appropriate, attorney fees and litigation expenses stemming from her alleged physical pain as well as “mental and emotional suffering; worry; fear; anxiety; nervousness; and stress” as a result of the incident and is “entitled to all of her damages in an amount to be ascertained according to proof at trial.”

The complaint from Kroll & Johnson alleges the actions of Leader and Garcia were “malicious, deliberate, intentional and embarked upon with the knowledge of, or in conscious disregard of, the harm that would inflicted upon plaintiff.”

City officials said they could not comment on the complaint.

“We have not officially been served with the lawsuit yet,” Patrick Preston, spokesman for the city of Hillsboro, said on Tuesday.

Leader and Garcia remain on duty with the Hillsboro Police Department.

“The police department will defend our officers in this case,” said Lt. Mike Rouches, spokesman for the Hillsboro Police Department. “They are still at work, not under any discipline, and the attorneys representing them will see this through.”

Preston pointed out that the city has retained attorney Steven Kraemer — with the Hart Wagner law firm in Portland — through its insurance pool, CIS.

“We will aggressively defend our officers in this lawsuit,” Preston said.

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