In the early days of the protests of 2020, now retired Officer Groshong struck a protester with a vehicle during a declared riot. Because it was now an investigation involving the police, they called on the Salem police department to handle the investigation. Charges from a grand jury were handed down against him, and he pled not guilty, setting the stage for a long and public court battle. The city has already pre-emptively requested portions of the grand jury proceedings be made public because of the interest in this case.
But none of that is about the PPA. What brought them into the picture is what happened after the grand jury convened. They filed a secret indictment, one that as Special Deputy District Attorney Katie Suver explained in court filings, is not to be shared details of by anyone “except the district attorney or a peace officer […] effecting an arrest” until the indictment is unsealed (ORS 132.420)
Within an hour of DA Suver telling Mr. Groshong of the charges and pending warrant and telling another officer that the same grand jury did not find charges against him, the Portland Police Association, the nation’s longest continuous police union, put out a press release, accusing the criminal justice system of being politicized, claiming that the person who was hit never appeared injured, and while he was arrested later, all charges were dropped
Within hours of the press release going public, OregonLive reported on it, stating that the indictment hadn’t been filed in court and that the DA’s office would not comment, suggesting the indictment was indeed under seal long after the PPA’s statement. Court records indicate that the press release and subsequent article were penned at least three days before the indictment was unsealed.
The Multnomah County DAs office, Marion County DAs office and Salem police department all deny releasing any information to the PPA when Mr. Groshong’s attorney lodged complaints alleging that one of those entities leaked the information illegally to the PPA.
The fact that it is unknown who leaked information to the PPA makes keeping sensitive records safe difficult, undermines the grand jury process and ultimately further damages the faith people might have in the local police force, and it’s representative union.