PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – A grand jury has returned an indictment against a Oregon police officer accusing him of hitting a Portland protester in the head with a baton in 2020.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the indictment marks the first time in Multnomah County that a Portland officer has been prosecuted stemming from force used during a protest.

Months of demonstrations over racial injustice last year led to accusations that officers were heavy-handed in their response.

The indictment charges Corey Budworth with misdemeanor fourth-degree assault.

The Associated Press has emailed Budworth’s lawyer, Nicole L. Robbins, for comment.

The police union called the prosecution politically-driven, and said Budworth’s baton strike to a woman’s head was “accidental,” not criminal.

Here’s a statement from Portland Mayor and Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler:

Today, a Multnomah County grand jury indicted Portland police officer Corey Budworth on one count of misdemeanor fourth-degree assault, which arose out of a use of force incident at an August 2020 protest. The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) placed Officer Budworth on administrative leave today.

I take this matter very seriously. As Mayor, I hold Portland Police Bureau members to a very high standard of professional conduct.

Our city experienced over 170 days of protests following the murder of George Floyd, and I also want to acknowledge that our officers faced great risk and protected our city in extreme conditions.  

I appreciate PPB’s investigative efforts regarding this case, and I thank Police Chief Chuck Lovell for his work to improve policies and training to ensure PPB provides professional and compassionate police services​ to our community.

Under the law, all who face charges in our criminal justice system are innocent until proven guilty. Out of respect for due process and the fact that I am the final decisionmaker in all PPB disciplinary matters, I have no further statement to make at this time.

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