Police sued, accused of using too much force

April 07, 2005

Ashbel Green, The Oregonian

A former all-state baseball pitcher with an injured throwing arm has filed a federal civil rights suit against Lake Oswego police, accusing them of using excessive force in handcuffing him and refusing to return his medical marijuana. 

Robert S. Hayden, 24, a first-team selection from Lakeridge High School in 1999, wants the city to pay him more than $1 million in damages -- and to return his marijuana.

Hayden's suit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Portland, is based on a February 2004 traffic stop.

Hayden claims that the Lake Oswego police pulled him over because his car had expired registration tags. After running Hayden's driver's license information through a law enforcement database, the police learned that Washington County had issued an arrest warrant for a probation violation for failing to pay a fine from a traffic offense.

Police said they intended to arrest Hayden, who claims he asked to be handcuffed with his arms in front of him because he had painful nerve damage in his right arm.

The police handcuffed his arms behind him, the suit claims.

Meanwhile, the police found less than an ounce of marijuana and Hayden's valid Oregon Medical Marijuana patient identification card, the suit said.

While in the back of the patrol car, Hayden said, he cried because the pain was so great but the officers continued to ignore his requests to be handcuffed with his arms in front of him.

After posting bail, Hayden asked for his medical marijuana back, but police refused. Hayden said he made several other requests, but the police refused to give him back his medical marijuana even though he has a valid card entitling him to possess less than an ounce of marijuana for medical reasons.

David Park, Hayden's attorney, said Oregon's medical marijuana law requires police to return medical marijuana. In addition, Park pointed out that the Oregon Court of Appeals in 2002 rejected a claim by Portland police that returning seized medical marijuana would violate federal law.

David Powell, Lake Oswego city attorney, defended the police, saying they did not use excessive force and did not return the marijuana because Hayden's use of it did not comport with the rules of the law.

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