A 57-year-old man is accused of yelling racist slurs at a Black Portland police officer as he made a shooting gesture toward the officer and then charged at him, according to court records.
Steven James Betz was arrested Monday afternoon and accused of two counts of committing a second-degree bias crime, second-degree disorderly conduct and second-degree criminal trespass.
The encounter occurred as police were trying to remove Betz, who is white, from a streetcar stop in Southeast Portland for allegedly harassing riders and operators.
The arrest marks at least the third time in Multnomah County that someone has been accused of the state’s new hate crime in relation to a member of law enforcement, according to Brent Weisberg, spokesman for the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.
Betz is accused of threatening to inflict serious injury against Officer Derrick Daley because of his race. Daley joined the Police Bureau in November 2019.
Police had been called about 12:20 p.m. to 250 S.E. Tilikum Way on a report of a man banging on the windows of a Portland streetcar and yelling at its operators and riders, according to a probable cause affidavit.
When Daley and other officers told the man to leave the area, he refused, Deputy District Attorney Bumjoon Park wrote in the affidavit.
Daley and other officers held onto each side of Betz to escort him away, police said. When Daley asked the man if he understood that he was being banned from the location, Betz turned toward Daley with a clenched fist, told him to shut up and called him a racist slur, the affidavit said.
Betz then continued to use the racist slur, motioning toward Daley with his hands, pretending to shoot him, Park wrote in the affidavit.
Betz also charged at Daley, prompting the officer to put his hands up to create distance between him and Betz, the affidavit said.
Other officers helped Betz walk away and told him to leave, but he walked back to the streetcar station and was arrested.
Despite several officers being present, Betz focused on the one Black officer and kept calling him by racist slurs, the affidavit said.
Prosecutors pursued second-degree bias crime allegations, saying Betz intentionally, because of Daley’s race, subjected him to alarm by threatening to inflict serious injury.
A first-degree bias crime is when a person injures someone or places someone in fear of imminent serious injury because of the perception of the victim’s race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or national origin.
Betz was booked into Multnomah County Detention Center on Monday afternoon and released on his own recognizance.
The county has brought at least two other hate crime cases where officers were identified as victims, Weisberg said
In a 2018 case, an intimidation charge was lodged but didn’t result in a conviction.
A bias crime case is pending from a February 2020 when during an arrest a man is accused of spitting at Gresham officer Hector Carranza, attempting to bite the officer’s hand and calling him by a racist slur based on the perception of his race, according to court records.
In September 2019, Gov. Kate Brown signed into law a bill that changed the name of the charge from “intimidation” to bias crime, made a first-degree bias crime a felony and added gender identity as a protected class. It marked the first major changes to Oregon’s 1981 intimidation statute, which many called outdated. The second-degree bias crime is a misdemeanor.
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