The city of Portland owes a man more than $300,000 because of the way he was treated by police officers.
A jury awarded the money to Gallagher Smith on Monday after they found police falsely arrested, battered and maliciously prosecuted him. It all stemmed from an incident in 2010 outside Aura, a downtown nightclub.
"The whole situation seemed so surreal while it was going on, I just could not believe that it was happening," Smith said during an interview at his lawyer's office.
In November 2010, Smith said he went outside the club to get some air only to be told by the bouncer he had to wait in the long line to get back in. When Smith questioned him, the bouncer flagged down police. When police tried to get Smith to leave the public sidewalk, he questioned them too.
"That's what this boils down to is the fact that I asked what I did wrong and they attacked me," said Smith. "They didn't like me questioning them."
Eyewitness video that was played in court shows what happened next. Smith was punched in the face, kicked in the ribs, shocked with a stun gun and hog-tied.
"I think the video helped show that Gallagher Smith was screaming and crying in pain that he was not yelling and screaming and trying to fight police," said Jason Kafoury, Smith's attorney. "I think when the jurors heard his demeanor in that video, it convinced them of who was telling the truth that day."
The physical injuries were minimal, but Smith said the mental toll has lingered.
"These last couple years I've spent in fear waking up every day not knowing if justice will be served, living in fear that the cops who are there to protect us are not going to do so," Smith said.
For his medical bills and court fees, jurors awarded him nearly $16,000. For pain and suffering, he will receive $290,000.
"At this point I'm still trying to wrap my head around what happened," said Smith. "I'm feeling justified and vindicated in that our system does fundamentally work."
Smith said he wants to help the local homeless population through urban farming in currently vacant lots around the city.
Despite the verdict, the two police officers involved were cleared of any wrongdoing during an internal investigation.
Copyright KPTV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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