Portland hotel maintenance worker says Homeland Security officer pointed gun at him when he tried to fix his toilet

In July 2020, federal agents from the US Department of Homeland Security brandished weapons in the streets of Portland to subdue protesters. In a legal opinion filed today, a hotel maintenance worker says these military tactics were also deployed against him.

On the afternoon of July 27, Christopher Frison went to room 428 at the Residence Inn by Marriott in North Portland with a plunger in his hand. He was responding to a request for maintenance to unclog a toilet, according to a notice of tort claim filed Oct. 28 against DHS.

Frisian, who is Black, knocked on 428’s door and identified himself as maintenance. The guest inside the room – a DHS operative – opened the door, according to the claim, and, with an “aggressive look on his face,” pointed a semi-automatic handgun at the chest. Frisian.

“Mr. Frisian raised his hands in the air and prepared to be killed,” says the tort complaint.

The officer, identified in the tort action as Jospeh Jones, then lowered his handgun and invited Frisian into the room. Frisian refused, according to the claim. He handed the plunger to Jones and left.

Frisian then quickly passed the lobby and left the hotel. On the way out, Frisian ran into his colleague, Tim Simon, who works as an administrative assistant at the hotel. Simon followed Frisian outside to ask him what had happened.

“His whole body was shaking,” Simon wrote in a personal statement accompanying Frisian’s request. “I have never seen a grown man so visibly scared. Over the years of working with Chris, I have seen him be a reliable and hard-working employee, always level-headed, calm and not letting things go.”

Simon sent Frisian home for the rest of the day to decompress.

Three months later, according to the tort complaint, Frisian continues to have nightmares. Her doctor advised her to take time off work to “heal from the trauma caused by the incident.”

“The incident described above made Mr. Frison fear for his life,” the tort complaint states, “and caused him to suffer continued serious emotional damage, including fear and horror.”

Frison intends to pursue a million dollar lawsuit against DHS and Jones for negligence, assault and intentional assault of emotional distress. He is represented by Portland attorney Michael Fuller.

DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment from WW. Jones could not be reached for comment.

Among other things, the legal brief sheds light on a mystery that has drawn speculation from protesters and the press for weeks: Where were federal agents staying during President Trump’s deployment to Portland?

Protesters have repeatedly protested outside the Marriott waterfront. But that notice, along with federal charges against a driver who allegedly attempted to crash into a federal vehicle with his car, suggests officers were in fact staying on the outskirts of town. The Residence Inn described in the review is located along the Columbia River just south of Hayden Island.

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Sandy A. Greer

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