PORTLAND, Ore. -- A homeless man who claims a security guard pushed him into the street, then hit him “repeatedly” with a baton outside a downtown Portland Safeway store is suing the guard’s employer, Signal 88 Security for $500,000.
The lawsuit, filed Monday, says 30-year-old Westley Foster “was exercising his First Amendment rights on the public sidewalk” outside the Safeway store at Southwest 10th Avenue and Jefferson Street.
The incident is confirmed in a police report, which says Foster was approached by two security guards, hired by Safeway, via Signal 88, LLC.
The first, according to the police report, said he’d received complaints from customers about Foster asking for money. He told police he went outside and talked to Foster, who refused to move.
Both documents then state a second security guard, 19-year-old Ibrahim Seraphin, came outside.
According to the police report, both guards told police Foster was “too aggressive” and, concerning the first guard, “was getting in his face”.
The suit alleges Seraphin then approached Foster, “pushed him into the street… told him that Mr. Foster was going to prison, and then Seraphin beat Mr. Foster repeatedly on his back with a solid baton.”
Seraphin told police, according to the report, that Foster had punched him, prompting him to strike him in the back twice.
Both documents confirm officers, who arrived soon after, called an ambulance for Foster.
The suit alleges he suffered a gash on his leg and bruises on his torso. It goes on to say Foster “suffered and continues to suffer considerable harm and emotional distress from this assault”.
Foster’s attorney, Lake James Perriguey, provided the photos of the injuries his client says he sustained during the incident.
A witness apparently caught the moments after the alleged beating on camera and posted the video on Youtube (WARNING: Graphic language).
In it, a woman can be heard saying “What, they just beat the crap out of him with a bat?”
A man is heard, saying, “I didn’t see that part.”
The woman then responds, “I did.”
A representative from Signal 88 declined to comment and wouldn’t confirm if Seraphin still worked for the company. Seraphin, who is not named as a defendant in the suit, has not returned calls for comment.
A spokesperson for Safeway told KGW:
"The security guard in this video works for a company who provides uniformed coverage for Safeway… Our primary concern is customer and employee safety, and this falls outside the guidelines of how we request our third-party security vendors to handle such situations."
This story will be updated.