Scott Groshong, a former Portland police officer accused of driving into a vandalism suspect downtown while on-duty monitoring a protest in 2020, was sentenced Monday to three years probation and community service after pleading guilty to first-degree official misconduct and third-degree assault.
Groshong, 52, must complete 80 hours of community service. His police certification in Oregon also will be revoked.
A Marion County deputy district attorney prosecuted Groshong after the Multnomah County district attorney’s office cited a conflict of interest.
Groshong, who retired in August 2020 after a 27-year career, was working undercover surveillance during racial justice protests in the summer of 2020 and driving an unmarked van.
The incident occurred just before midnight on June 15, 2020.
Groshong and Portland police Sgt. Chris Kenagy were doing surveillance in the area of Northwest Ninth Avenue and Davis Street and heard glass breaking, according to court records. Groshong drove up to the Portland Skate and Snowboard and recorded one man reaching in and taking two skateboards and another snagging a third board before running off, the court records indicate.
A short time later, another man walked up to the store, stole a helmet and darted across the street, shop manager Kevin Nimick told The Oregonian/OregonLive.
A video by an area resident caught an unmarked black van racing east on Davis Street up to the alleged helmet thief, who was running across the street near 9th Avenue, and showed the van strike him near the intersection, knocking him off his feet and onto the sidewalk.
Nimick reviewed the video and said it looked as if the black car “gassed it and kind of clipped the guy.” Nimick said at the time he didn’t know the van belonged to the police.
The driver’s side door of the black van opened but no one appeared to have stepped out of the vehicle, and the man who had been struck ran off, according to the video.
In the video, the alleged thief also appeared to drop the stolen helmet and left it behind before he ran away.
The young man was arrested by other officers some blocks away but the charges were later dropped.
The man, identified in court records as 35-year-old Robert Alan Leitch, later accused Groshong of driving into him and then driving off.
“Groshong recklessly drove his vehicle into the man, striking him and causing him a serious physical injury,” according to a statement by the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office.
Groshong failed to stop and get out to try to help Leitch, didn’t report the collision, didn’t acknowledge the crash occurred in a police report, or to a supervisor or the state Department of Motor Vehicles, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors did not describe the injuries Leitch sustained, but the third-degree assault conviction suggests Groshong caused “serious physical injury” to Leitch.
Leitch, as well as fellow Portland police officers, testified before a Multnomah County grand jury on Oct. 15, 2020, leading to a nine-count indictment against Groshong. Kenagy, a police sergeant who was a witness to the collision, was not charged with a crime.
The plea and sentencing hearing was held Monday before Multnomah County Circuit Judge Jenna Plank.
Groshong is now working in the construction industry, according to his lawyer Brian Scott Davidson, a former veteran prosecutor for the Multnomah County district attorney’s office now doing criminal defense work and retained by Groshong. Davidson said he had no comment on the plea or sentencing.
Leitch has not been charged with burglary or theft stemming from the alleged break-in to the skateboard shop. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office forwarded that case for review to the Columbia County District Attorney’s office and said it’s still under investigation.
Nimick said Monday he was unaware of the sentencing of Groshong, and didn’t think the man hit by the van had been prosecuted in the burglary of his shop. He had no further comment.
-- Maxine Bernstein
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