Jury Finds Cop Guilty of Excessive Force, Department Grants Promotion


Oregon – Jury finds police captain Rob Edwards liable for $181,170 in damages for delivering a karate kick and using his vehicle to ram a motorcyclist during a traffic stop.

Although the district attorney’s office didn’t find any fault in the officers behavior and never filed charges against the motorcyclist Justin Wilkens, he decided to sue for damages after his medical bills and other expenses topped $31,000. Among Wilkens’ injuries were “a broken clavicle and fractured rib.”

Local news says Edwards has been an Oregon State Trooper for 22 years and held the rank of lieutenant when this incident went down, having since been promoted to captain. He was apparently reprimanded by his superiors for “neglecting to report his use of force against Wilkens” but not cited for excessive force.

The incident happened on Aug. 3, 2012, when Justin Wilkens was speeding in his Aprilia motorcycle and unwittingly passed Oregon State Police Officer Rob Edwards in an unmarked cop Camaro. After a few minutes of chase, Edwards rammed Wilkens off the bike, pulled a gun on him and kicked him in the chest.

TheNewspaper.com says Edwards had his red-and-blue police lights on in the Camaro, but not a siren. The officer would testify he believed the biker was trying to elude him, but Wilkens asserted he didn’t realize he was being chased and “had never seen a black Camaro cop car before.”

TheNewspaper.com’s photograph of the vehicles

TheNewspaper.com’s photograph of the vehicles

I’ve never seen a police car quite like that either, and as you can see from TheNewspaper.com’s photograph of the vehicles the Camaro is pretty indistinguishable from a civilian car. Even the license plates look standard.

“You can’t turn around 100 percent behind you when you’re riding a motorcycle,” Wilkens testified. “For one, you don’t want to do that because you take your eyes off the road. The mirror on the motorcycle vibrates. His car was an undercover car with low-profile lights…. When I found out that I was getting pulled over, I pulled over.”

“He nearly took my leg off,” Wilkens explained. “On a dial clock, twelve o’clock facing forward, he hit me at about 7:30. And when you have your foot on a peg on a motorcycle, that’s about 8:30.”

Edwards acknowledged in his testimony that Wilkens had already begun to comply with his repeated commands to get on the ground when Edwards landed a swift kick to the motorcyclist’s upper chest. Edwards said he could not have stopped the kick because he “already had the muscles fired” in his right leg.

Edwards also testified that he accidentally “bumped” the back end of Wilkens’ motorcycle as a result of possible “brake fade” — a term used to describe the loss of braking power due to overheating.

As explained by local news, a jury of eight people “awarded Wilkens more than $31,000 in economic damages to reimburse his medical expenses and motorcycle repair bills; $100,000 in non­economic damages for his injuries, pain and suffering; and $50,000 in punitive damages,” which Edwards will be forced to pay.

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