A federal grand jury indicted a Portland man after he attempted to punch a female cop in the face and dragged her a short distance during a Black Lives Matter-Antifa attack on a police station in August. The accused rioter had previously been arrested twice and charged with multiple violent felonies but all those charges were dropped by the local district attorney.
27-year-old Travis Austin Hessel, of Portland, was federally charged with felony civil disorder, U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams announced Friday. In the early hours of Aug. 4, protesters rioted outside the Penumbra Kelly Public Safety Building. They shined lasers in the eyes of officers protecting the facility and threw paint balloons, water bottles, cans, marbles, and other hard objects at them. The crowd blocked vehicular traffic on the street, forcing a fire truck to reroute first responders in order to extinguish an unrelated house fire.
When Portland police tried to disperse the crowd, a group resisted. During the physical mele, Hessel allegedly tried to punch a female officer. When she tried to place him under arrest, he fled, dragging her a short distance before she lost her grip. Two backup officers were able to stop Hessel and take him into custody.
Hessel was booked in the Multnomah County Detention Center and charged with felony assault of a public safety officer by police. But he was bailed out immediately and the county’s progressive district attorney dropped the charge for unknown reasons.
And that wasn’t the first time Hessel was arrested for riot-related activities. On the first night of mass violence in May, Hessel was charged with felony riot, felony burglary in the second degree, interfering with a peace officer, and resisting arrest. He was quickly let go at the time without bail. All of those charges were also dropped.
Hessel was arraigned on the grand jury indictment in federal court on Friday. Hessel pleaded not guilty and was ordered release pending a two-day jury trial scheduled on Dec. 8.