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Police arrest man with 'history of violent behavior' for possible Northwest Portland assault

Police said officers spent nearly an hour attempting to deescalate the situation, but a hostile crowd made a safe arrest difficult.
Credit: PPB

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland police arrested a man in Northwest Portland on Sunday for a possible assault that had been shared on social media, showing the suspect moving toward someone and swinging a club-like object. The incident occurred July 22. 

Robert Banks, 53, was charged with unlawful use of a weapon for the previous incident after a difficult arrest Sunday.

Police said this is just one among a lengthy list of violent incidents involving Banks, including threatening people with makeshift weapons. The incidents Banks has been tentatively linked to over the last two months include:

  • Aug. 4: Welfare check on man who caller said has history of chasing/threatening people with sticks and crowbars
  • Aug. 4: Man threatening people as they walk by
  • Aug. 10: Man threatening people with a pipe
  • Aug. 15: Unwanted person call, caller said man has history of threats with sticks and assaulted someone a week before
  • Aug. 27: Man chased people with a stick
  • Aug. 29: Man on the corner with a knife and big stick swung it at cars and passersby
  • Sept. 3: Man aggressive with passersby
  • Sept. 6: Man threatened a worker with a knife when he retrieved a scooter. Banks calmed by a community member. Victim declined to press charges
  • Sept. 17: Caller reported man chased neighbor with a stick
  • Sept. 18: Man threatened a worker with a metal bat when retrieving a scooter

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Because of his history, police said a team of officers attempted to take Banks into custody near Northwest 23rd and Flanders on Sunday, the same intersection where the assault occurred. Banks armed himself with the wooden handle of a shovel or similar tool, police said, and began threatening officers and hitting objects with it. He also held up a wooden pallet as a shield. 

Police said officers spent nearly an hour attempting to deescalate the situation, allowing nearby residents who knew Banks to attempt to calm him down, but said the efforts were unsuccessful due to a hostile crowd police said was egging on Banks. After he refused to put down weapons, police used tasers, pepper spray and nonlethal munitions to arrest him. Banks was evaluated by paramedics and transported to the Multnomah County Detention Center, where he was also booked on several warrants. 

The victim seen in the assault video still has not been identified. Portland police ask the victim or anyone who knows them to email police at crimetips@portlandoregon.gov, Attention: Central NRT, and reference case number 21-220133.

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