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Man sues West Linn police for allegedly breaking his arm

The 2009 incident during an arrest began with a reported domestic dispute

A Beavercreek man recently filed a lawsuit against two West Linn police officers and the city of West Linn for injuries he sustained during an incident two years ago.

Frank Keicher, 60, alleges that police responding to a domestic dispute used excessive force and arrested him without cause, according to a complaint filed Dec. 20 in U.S. District Court in Portland.

West Linn police officers Daniel 'Tony' Poitras and David Heimbuck responded to a 9-1-1 call at 7:05 p.m. Dec. 18, 2009, at a hair salon in the 19100 block of Willamette Drive.

According to police reports, Heimbuck arrived first and found Keicher and his wife in the salon that they owned.

The couple had allegedly gotten into an argument after going to dinner nearby at Linn City Pub, and Keicher allegedly slapped his wife's wrist, according to police.

When Heimbuck asked Keicher to step outside, Keicher had an 'overwhelming odor' of alcohol and became 'uncooperative' by repeatedly putting his hands in his pockets when he was asked not to, according to the police reports.

At one point, Poitras noticed a pocketknife in Keicher's pants pocket and moved to remove the knife, according to police records. Keicher allegedly began struggling with Poitras, and Heimbuck helped put Keicher on the ground, where he continued to struggle until he was handcuffed.

During the struggle, Keicher broke his right arm.

Keicher was cited for harassment and resisting arrest, but those charges were later dropped.

Incident accounts differ

Keicher has accused police of unreasonable use of force, assault and battery, arrest without probable cause and negligence in violation of the Fourth and 14th Amendments.

Details of his account of the encounter, described in the federal complaint, differ from those in Poitras and Heimbuck's reports.

According to the complaint, Keicher repeatedly put his hands in his pockets out of 'nervous habit.'

Keicher contends he tried to cooperate with police by turning and offering to remove his knife when Poitras allegedly grabbed his arm and twisted it behind his back while 'ramming' Keicher's face, head and torso into a wall.

The complaint states that when the officers forced Keicher to the ground they injured his right arm, elbow, shoulder and wrist.

Keicher's attorney, Stephen Thompson of Kirklin, Thompson and Pope LLP, said Keicher waited two years to file the suit because he had to fully heal from the injuries.

'His injuries were severe,' Thompson said, noting that Keicher experienced ruptured ligaments in his wrist that required surgery and a tendon graft.

Keicher is suing to cover his medical fees, which are 'very substantial,' Thompson said.

Papers were served to Poitras and Heimbuck on Dec. 28 and were also served to the city of West Linn. Poitras has been a member of the West Linn Police Department since December 2007, and Heimbuck, who is currently on a two-year Tri-Met assignment, started in August 2003.

Representing the city of West Linn, attorney Gerry Warren of the Law Office of Gerald Warren said he did not know as of Dec. 30 whether past complaints have been filed against either officer. West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus said he was unable to comment on the case.

After the defendants obtain their own counsel, the lawsuit will enter a discovery phase, which could be extensive and long. Thompson, who estimates the case may take nine to 12 months to conclude, is requesting a jury trial.




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