Eugene officer convicted of assaulting inmate
EUGENE — A Eugene police officer who roughed up a suspect at the Lane County Jail has been found guilty of misdemeanor assault and official misconduct.
Officer John Sharlow faces a maximum of one year in jail when he's sentenced Friday.
Sharlow waived his right to a jury trial, opting to have Judge Mustafa Kasubhai decide whether he broke the law two years ago when he grabbed the handcuffed man around the neck and pulled him from a bench to the concrete floor — an incident caught on surveillance video.
The judge said he didn't find the act to be a justifiable use of force. The officer turned toward his supporters with a troubled look after hearing Wednesday's verdict. He exited through a side door without taking questions.
Sharlow's attorney, Larry Matasar, argued at trial that the officer acted in self-defense, becoming physical with the inmate because he needed to maintain order.
The victim, Arik Bumpas, testified earlier this week, but wasn't in the courtroom for the verdict, The Register-Guard reported.
Brian Michaels, a lawyer who represents Bumpas in a pending civil lawsuit, told the newspaper in a telephone interview that it's rare for a police officer to be prosecuted, and commended Kasubhai for "seeing through the politics."
Sharlow testified that he grabbed Bumpas because he thought the handcuffed man was going to stand up from the jail bench and become aggressive.
Sharlow said he was not trying to injure Bumpas, and asserted he had intended to grab the Eugene man by an arm. Sharlow testified he was "very surprised" when he viewed the video and saw that he had put his hands around Bumpas' neck.
"I can't say why exactly my hands went to that area," Sharlow testified.
Sharlow had arrested Bumpas outside a downtown Eugene bar shortly before the jailhouse assault.
Prosecutors initially charged Bumpas with attempted assault of a police officer and resisting arrest, but dismissed the case after Sharlow became the subject of an investigation.