Shotgun blast arrest leads to $10M federal suit

Robert W. Zachow is suing the city of Portland for $10 million in federal court after he was arrested in September 2013 for firing a shotgun into the air to scare away burglars. (Multnomah County Jail)
Robert W. Zachow is suing the city of Portland for $10 million in federal court after he was arrested in September 2013 for firing a shotgun into the air to scare away burglars. (Multnomah County Jail)

(PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — A 44-year-old Southeast Portland man who was arrested last fall after he scared away three burglars by firing a shotgun blast into the air is suing the city of Portland in federal court for $10 million.

Robert Wayne Zachow filed a lawsuit on his own in U.S. District Court Tuesday, Jan. 27, demanding millions to compensate for his arrest by Portland police and the loss of “medicine, health and moving” expenses.

City officials do not comment on pending litigation. No court date has been set for the lawsuit.

Zachow was arrested at about 4 a.m. Sept. 28, 2013, and charged with attempted murder after he fired a blast from his shotgun into the air when he discovered three people attempting to steal marijuana plants from his fenced back yard in the 13200 block of Southeast Division Street. No one was injured in the incident.

Portland police officers took Zachow into custody and then searched the area for the theft suspects. A few blocks away, officers found three people who matched the description of the suspects on bicycles. Officers also found a marijuana plant with the group. They arrested 21-year-old Eric Presnall on an unrelated warrant. Two others, who were 16 and 18, were released.

In his five-page handwritten lawsuit, Zachow claimed that at least two of the theft suspects returned to his house while he was in custody at the Multnomah County Detention Center, between Sept. 28 and Oct. 13, and stole more plants. He also claimed that his family was so worried for their safety that they moved out of the apartment. They now live more than 50 blocks away.

Zachow said that he was denied his pain medication while in the detention center, causing his blood pressure to dangerously spike.

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