DA Mike Schmidt provides community update on two separate bias crime cases

PORTLAND, Ore. – Today, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt provided the community with an update on two bias crime cases filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court.State v. Brian Miller (C#21CR03869)

Miller is charged with three counts of bias crime in the first degree, three counts of bias crime in the second degree and one count each of burglary in the first degree, burglary in the second degree, disorderly conduct in the second degree, criminal mischief in the second degree, criminal trespass in the second degree, menacing, robbery in the third degree and theft in the third degree.

The victim in this case is from Afghanistan and is a Muslim.

On January 22, 2021, at approximately 7:45 p.m., he was working at a gas station located in the 14400 block of Southeast Division Street in Portland, Oregon.

According to court documents, Miller entered the store after being involved in a disturbance outside in the parking lot. While inside the store, Miller yelled at and used racial hate speech toward the employee based on his perception of the victim’s religion, national origin and his race and skin color.

The victim started recording the incident.

Without any provocation, Miller entered the employee-only area behind the counter and walked quickly towards the victim, who ran and hid inside the back storage area while on the phone with 9-1-1.

The employee told police he was extremely scared that he was going to suffer imminent serious physical injury based on Miller’s conduct, according to court documents.

Furthermore, it is alleged that Miller, while committing the crime of theft, took merchandise while either using or threatening the immediate use of physical force against the victim.

The Portland Police Bureau responded and took Miller into custody.

After the alleged incident, Miller was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center and then released on his own recognizance.State v. Peter Eschright (C#21CR03856)

Eschright is charged with two counts of bias crime in the first degree and one count of felony assault in the fourth degree.

The victim in this case is Asian-American.

On January 22, 2021, at approximately 5:45 p.m., the victim and her son were on a TriMet bus in the area of Southeast 52nd Avenue and Southeast Foster Road in Portland, Oregon when Eschright walked by and then kicked the victim in both shins, according to court documents.

It is alleged Eschright made racial slurs towards the victim in regards to the coronavirus based on her national origin and her race and skin color.

The victim reported having some trouble walking after being kicked, but did not have to go to the emergency room.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office responded and took Eschright into custody. Eschright was released to Multnomah County Pretrial Release Services.

A charging document is only an accusation of a crime. Eschright and Miller are innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Services, support and advocacy are being provided to both victims through the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Victim’s Assistance Program.

Arraignment hearings in both matters were scheduled for January 25, 2021.

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office was an active participant of the Oregon Attorney General’s Hate Crimes Task Force and helped draft the language that was in Senate Bill 577. The law, which went into effect on July 15, 2019, renamed the crime of “intimidation” to “bias crime,” added gender identity to the list of protected categories and removed the requirement that two or more people commit the crime in order to make it a felony in certain circumstances.

All potential bias crime cases, whether they are a felony or misdemeanor, are reviewed by the Violent Crimes Unit within the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office. If a misdemeanor crime is issued, the felony-level attorney will retain the case.

If you are the victim of a bias crime or you are witnessing one, immediately call 9-1-1. If you are the victim of a bias crime and the suspect is no longer present or if you have information about a bias crime committed in the past, call the non-emergency line at 503-823-3333.