Portland officer recorded saying: 'I'm going to shoot you in your head'

Portland officer under investigation

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Police Bureau is investigating the actions of an officer who was involved in a man's violent arrest last September.

The officer is not on leave, according to PPB spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson. Ten other PPB staff are on leave for other internal investigations, including Chief Mike Marshman

Officer Matt Bigoni threatened three times to shoot the man, 27-year-old Christopher Lee Fish, when he refused to come out of his motor home on September 26, The Oregonian/OregonLive first reported.

Fish recorded 10 minutes of audio during the incident. Officer Bigoni can be heard repeatedly threatening to shoot and kill both Fish and his dog, who is referred to as a large pitbull but is not heard in the recording.  

The recording was released to KGW by April Yates, a certified law student who represented Fish at his trial.

Warning: Strong language

At one point, Fish told the officers he wanted time to put on his shoes and smoke a cigarette before coming out.

"Stop moving your hands around, or I'm going to shoot you!" Bigoni said.

Fish responded: "I'm not doing nothing to hurt you guys."

"Stop moving your (expletive) hands or I'm going to shoot you in your head!" Bigoni said.

Officers had gone to the motor home to arrest Fish for probation violations. After about 25 minutes, following the period of the audio recording, the officers busted in the door, held him down, punched him and fractured his eye socket and nose.

A judge dismissed a charge that Fish interfered with police, and jurors in February acquitted him of resisting arrest. The cellphone recording Fish made of Bigoni's threats turned out to be a key piece of evidence at the trial.

A lawyer for Fish has notified the city he intends to sue over the arrest.

Sgt. Pete Simpson declined to comment on whether the comments were appropriate, citing the internal investigation, but he confirmed the three officers involved in the arrest remain on patrol duty.

The Associated Press could not immediately reach Bigoni for comment Sunday; a phone number listed for a Matt Bigoni in Portland rang busy.

"This is a case about officers who went too far — officers who escalated a peaceful situation and made it violent," said April Yates.

During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Victor Mercado told jurors that Fish took far too long to get dressed, lied to the police by saying they had found the wrong man and could have ended the entire incident before it got started if he just would have stepped out of the motor home in the beginning. Police had a warrant for his arrest for failing to meet with his probation officer for an oxycodone conviction and failing to complete domestic-violence counseling for a prior misdemeanor assault conviction.

"His tone in the video is not the tone of someone who is scared," Mercado said. "It is the tone of someone who is flippant, cavalier, defiant."

But Mercado didn't defend Bigoni's statements.

"Let's be clear, Officer Bigoni was unpleasant," he said. "I don't think he comes off well in the video."

Juror Cheryl Barham told The Oregonian/OregonLive that she's glad to hear that Fish has moved forward with plans to sue. She said the actions of the police officers was disheartening; their testimony during trial was "suspicious" and inconsistent; and it didn't take the six-person jury long to determine that Fish wasn't guilty of the crime charged against him.

"It was shocking to hear and see what they did," Barham said of the officers.

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© 2017 KGW-TV


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