US Attorney Charges Man for Civil Disorder in Portland After DA Declined

September 3, 2020 Updated: September 10, 2020

The U.S. Attorney for Oregon on Thursday charged a man who Portland prosecutors declined three out of four times to pursue charges against for criminal acts during rioting in the city.

Kristopher Michael Donnelly, 26, a resident of Kelso, Washington, was charged with civil disorder for assaulting a police officer during riots on two nights last month, U.S. Attorney Billy Williams’s office said.

According to court documents obtained by The Epoch Times, the defendant was seen using a hammer to smash a window at the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct late Aug. 5. A short time after, he was throwing empty teargas grenade canisters at police while refusing to disperse despite warnings to do so or face arrest.

When an officer tried arresting him, Donnelly “forcefully struck” the officer in the face, the criminal complaint stated. Several more officers helped the other officer take the man into custody.

Donnelly was booked on charges including riot, disorderly conduct, and interfering with a public safety officer.

Epoch Times Photo
Kristopher Michael Donnelly in recent booking photographs. (Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office)

Just three days later, Donnelly was again arrested during a riot. Officers saw him launching frozen eggs at officers. He tried fleeing from arrest but was ultimately taken into custody and charged again.

Donnelly was also arrested on Aug. 23 and Aug. 30.

A Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson noted that the office did indict Donnelly for felony riot, felony criminal mischief, and resisting arrest for what took place on Aug. 5.

However, prosecutors declined to file charges for the other three nights. Prosecutors asked law enforcement for more information on the charges and will re-review the cases if the followup is conducted and information sent, the office said.

The prosecutor’s office announced last month that some charges would be presumptively declined related to protests. Many protests in Portland devolve into riots.

“Our initial charging decision is based on the available police reports submitted to our office. We cannot legally or ethically issue a case when the information submitted is incomplete. In some circumstances, we will ask the investigating agency to conduct additional follow up and then resubmit the case,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

“We have seen a small number of people repeatedly arrested for committing crimes during the nightly protests. We will initiate prosecution for those small number of cases when we identify a strong public safety reason.”

The public defender representing Donnelly in the federal case said in an emailed statement: “The office policy is to talk about pending cases in the courtroom and nowhere else.” A lawyer representing the defendant in the other case didn’t respond to an inquiry.

Donnelly was released pending an arraignment on Sept. 24. He was ordered to stay out of trouble and not possess a firearm or other weapon.

The federal civil disorder charge against Donnelly is the fifth brought after investigations by the FBI this week.

Portland police and Oregon State Patrol officers work together to arrest a woman during rioting in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 11, 2020. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

A Portland woman and Seattle man were hit with the same charge on Wednesday.

Authorities charged two others in addition to the Kelso man on Thursday. Hugo Ryan-Bereau-Pavy, 26, of Portland, was charged with civil disorder after allegedly shining a high-powered laser into the eyes of multiple law enforcement officers during unrest on June 13 outside the Multnomah County Justice Center. And Eva Warner, also known as Joshua Warner, 25, of Beaverton, Oregon, was charged with civil disorder for allegedly shining a laser during an Aug. 8 riot.

And Kevin Phomma, 26, of Portland, was charged for allegedly using bear spray against police officers during a riot on Aug. 26.

Civil disorder charges carry up to five years in federal prison if convicted. Federal law says that the charge can be brought against people who “commits or attempts to commit any act to obstruct, impede, or interfere with any fireman or law enforcement officer lawfully engaged in the lawful performance of his official duties incident to and during the commission of a civil disorder which in any way or degree obstructs, delays, or adversely affects commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce or the conduct or performance of any federally protected function,” among others.

The charge has become common across the nation as authorities try to deal with the severe escalation in unrest that started with the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, a Department of Justice spokeswoman said on Thursday.

City, state, and county authorities have struggled to keep the peace since May 28. Officials have declined offers of federal assistance, including the National Guard, from the Trump administration.

But Renn Cannon, who heads the FBI in Portland, told the Associated Press last week that the bureau was shifting agents from fraud and organized crime teams to focus on crimes committed during the unrest.

Officials were “making the assessment that we should be trying to do a little more than we have, because the cumulative effects and the nature of the problem indicate that the community needs help,” Cannon said.

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