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Tort claim pits couple vs. cops

A Forest Grove man and his wife have filed a tort claim against the city of Hillsboro for damages they claim occurred during a warrantless search of their home July 4.

Adam Horstman and Christle Cunningham-Horstman contend in their claim that “Adam Horstman was arrested by members of the Hillsboro Police Department (HPD) without probable cause.”

Horstman, 28, was arrested and held in the Washington County Jail on suspicion of multiple robberies. Charges were dismissed five days later. A Beaverton man was subsequently identified as the primary suspect in the crimes.

On Tuesday, Lt. Mike Rouches, spokesman for HPD, confirmed that detectives arrested Horstman July 4 and released him from custody July 9. Rouches said the arrest stemmed from a series of pharmacy robberies in Hillsboro and Beaverton over a 43-day period.

Oxycontin, Oxycodone and Ambien were stolen in the robberies, which occurred at three Albertsons stores and a Rite Aid.

“A gun was seen or intimated in each of these robberies, and officers were concerned about an escalating threat of violence,” Rouches explained.

The robberies in question occurred May 18, June 3, June 18 and June 30.

Still photos of the suspect from surveillance video were released to police, and Horstman was arrested following his identification by a Rite Aid pharmacist, who believed he recognized Horstman.

On July 4, police searched the Horstman home and seized several personal items, including clothing, work shoes and Adam Horstman’s cell phone.

On that day, the family was preparing for a trip to the coast, accompanied by daughter Kristin’s 16-year-old boyfriend, Cole Pawlowski.

Officers reportedly ordered the family members and their young guest to leave the home. Allegedly, when Pawlowski tried remove his cell phone from the couch, “an officer pulled out his pistol, pointed it at the child’s head, and ordered him to stop,” read an excerpt from the claim.

Also, the Horstmans were not permitted to change clothing or to take their vehicle. When police demanded a search of Christle’s purse, she objected.

During the search of the home, light fixtures were reportedly damaged, contents of drawers were thrown to the floor, trash cans were emptied onto floors and a filing cabinet was broken. Christle further claimed a police officer lied to her, saying Sgt. Ted Schrader told her he had a warrant. When asked to produce it, Christle claimed Schrader changed his story and said he could get one. Also, the Horstmans alleged that Schrader damaged a door while forcing his way into the residence.

Rouches said Horstman was released from jail when the Washington County District Attorney dismissed the case, pending further investigation.

Hillsboro police later determined that another man, Shawn Michael Simmons, 29, of Beaverton, was the alleged robber. Simmons was arrested July 24.

Charges were pursued against Simmons, and, on July 28, he was indicted by a Washington County Grand Jury as the alleged perpetrator of the pharmacy robberies.

“Based on the facts gleaned from the investigation, it has been determined that Mr. Horstman was not involved in the string of robberies,” read a Hillsboro Police Department statement released Aug. 12.

Adam Horstman also claimed that after the charges against him were dropped, his personal belongings were not, at that time, returned to him. Along with the tort claim, a motion was filed to get the personal items back, and according to Jesse Merrithew of Levi, Merrithew, Horst LLP — attorney for the Horstmans — the items were returned later.

The Hillsboro Tribune filed a request for the police report, but access to the report was denied by the Washington County District Attorney’s office. The case is listed in the county court system as “closed.”

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