The Hippasus Blog

Keaton Otis — how HEAT violated Oregon law

Posted in Uncategorized by pifactory on December 9, 2012

Did the HEAT and GET squads violate Oregon law when, without cause, they stopped, then assaulted and killed Keaton Otis? 

Since no “traffic crime” was committed, nor was a “traffic violation” ever alleged let alone proven, then the stop was both a “self-initiated” and a “warrantless stop” as officers admitted to the Grand Jury.  Neither excessive speed nor reckless nor dangerous driving was ever alleged. 

Thus, we conclude this was a pretext stop.

In 2009 the Oregon legislature took the problem of racial profiling and pretext stops sufficiently seriously to write Oregon statue 2009 ORS 810.410 Arrest and citation:
 
(1)  A police officer may arrest or issue a citation to a person for a traffic crime …..
 
(2)  A police officer may issue a citation to a person for a traffic violation …..
 
(3)  A police officer: … (a) Shall not arrest a person for a traffic violation.

The language of the statute is clear and plain. It consistently uses the word “may,” meaning it is a permissable authority. So, there is a burden of proof on the officer, to prove the stop was reasonable under the circumstances.

The officer’s decisions and conduct must proceed from lawful use of authority, with the officer acting only upon reasonable assessments of facts. Also the common understanding and meaning of the language applies:  may means permissable; must means required. Nowhere in the statute does it require arrest, neither for traffic crimes nor for traffic violations.

Other Oregon case law made it unlawful for the officers of HEAT to try to stop Keaton Otis.

In State v. Painter, 296 Or 422, 676 P2d 309 (1984), “…where no citation can be issued, detention is not authorized.”

In State v. Peterson, 143 Or App 505, 923 P2d 1340 (1996), “…Nervous behavior of driver is insufficient by itself to raise officer safety concerns and allow expansion of stop.” Leave to appeal for a superior court was denied.

2009 ORS 810.410 Arrest and citation: (3)(a) needs to be put before a jury of citizens to seriously question the actions of the officers of HEAT and GET on 12 May 2010… and the subsequent motivations of the DA’s office at the Grand jury.

Q. Why did the DA’s office refuse to see what was put right under their noses? 

Q. Where is the “citation” indicating that an authentic “traffic enforcement” stop and arrest was ever intended? There appears to have been no such citation for a violation.

Q. Why would such a huge combined force of HEAT/GET officers be required to serve that citation upon the lone occupant and driver, Keaton Otis, on May 12, 2010? 

Q. Why did officer testimony talk about a mission having to do with getting guns off the street rather than “bad drivers” off the street?  This allegation concerning the stop, on its face, sounds unreasonable and unsupportable by facts. 

Just looking at the law, the officers had no right to think Keaton Otis could be arrested, convicted or imprisoned for the alleged violation.

2009 ORS 801.557 Traffic violation: “… punishable by a fine but that is not punishable by a term of imprisonment.”

  • 153.039  Stop and dentention for violation

  • 153.042  Citations

  • 153.061  Appearance by defendant

What then would cause them to believe he could be stalked, stopped and killed?

It’s not the law that comes to mind.  It’s the historical experience of the police in Portland which would inform their judgements of using deadly force with impunity. 

When we take a look — just at the stop itself — we clearly see what witnesses noticed at first.  Namely, it looked like a normal traffic stop, because no speed was involved on the part of the Corolla.  When the police stopped, however, they did so abruptly and approached with weapons drawn.

Witnesses also noticed the boxing in of the Corolla — back and front — by police vehicles. Those witnesses would have their testimony corroborated by the video of Christine Lais. 

Most of the other witnesses appearing before the Grand Jury were simply supplying the police with verbal padding and superfluous imagery, simply to bolster the police testimony, increasing the amount of false narrative but not at all necessary to establish the facts in the case.  I

Testimony of the bulk of the witnesses called at the Grand Jury was used to establish the false narrative of the police.  The Deputy DAs assisted with that goal.

It was not the first time that the fabrication of a false narrative had been used in a bid to cover police guilt.

In Glenn v. Washington County, a jury found officers and the county guilty of violating the rights of Lukus Glen — using excessive force, needlessly, unreasonably killing him. The winning presentation by plaintiff attorney had two fundamental parts pitted against each other: a false police narrative vs. stubborn facts supporting witnesses for plaintiff.

As in the case of Keaton Otis, the authorities constructed a narrative of complicated and confusing “facts” to turn the blame back upon the victim for his own death.  The police claimed Lukus Glenn, with their descriptions of his unreasonable behavior, forced them to escalate.  Neither crisis intervention training nor de-escalation training applied to such a situation: namely, when the citizen is “unreasonable,” deadly force is the only reasonable alternative.

Only when the trail of false narrative and its confusing irrelevancies was stripped away to the bare essentials did the violation of the rights of Lukus Glenn become plain

Why would the DA’s office want to pad the case of officers, if they were innocent in their actions?

Stripped of its lurid adjectives and claims, the police officers’ narrative could be demolished in a lawsuit by attorneys for the plaintiff. 

On the other hand, if one knowingly pads the case of guilty officers, one becomes an accomplice in the act under investigation! The padding, in this case, has only served to implicate the DA’s office in the false narrative of the police.  Why would such desperate measures, on the part of the DA’s office, even be necessary?
 
Political support by the police, kept DA Mike Schrunk in office for 30 years?  And, could it be that the support was mutual, that mutual support existed under a highly effective “covenant of blindness”  — which amounted to a “covenant of lawlessness” maintained for 30 years, between PPB and the DA’s Office and also among Schrunk’s Deputy District Attorneys?

Could it be that both the police and the district attorneys have jointly, deliberately supported a “covenant of blindness” to the needs of  citizens, to keep citizens from obtaining — to discourage citizens even from seeking — true, real, effective justice in Portland, OR, USA?

In 2010, not a single criminal was killed by police in Portland.  Only sick persons in crisis were killed.  Portland may be the only city of its size that shot not a single criminal that year. 

This entire group of Portland citizens, not just Keaton Otis, constitute a class of litigants and deserve a lawyer to press the case for all of them.  By the same token, the Governor of Oregon would have just cause to conduct a full-blown, high-level investigation!  We have here not just a massive failure of leadership.  We also have a massive failure of our legal system.

The DOJ has been looking at Portland as though it’s only problem with law enforcement is a failure of leadership between the Mayor and the PPB.  I don’t think anybody really wants to know how bad the Oregon system is.
 
The role of others in turning a blind eye to the lawlessness of the PPB also needs to be examined:The City Attorney’s office, the Director, Office of Independent Police Review, the Attorney General of the State of Oregon.  Ditto, now, the US Department of Justice, which deliberately restricted its search to “civil violations.” 

So far, every investigation into PPB use of deadly force steers clear of the obvious, leaving it to citizens to do the research and fight the fight for justice.  Yet, we pay for the crimes and criminals as well as for the defenses and damages!  It’s truly outrageous!
 
Is it any wonder the violence of Portland Police Bureau escalated despite every good faith effort of the community to stop the violence and to rid the Bureau of unprofessional officers? 

The whole system permitted itself to indulge Police officers and their Commanding officers with a de facto license to execute — in public and at will — innocent citizens who got in the way of police fury.  That fury has been plainly on display since November 2009 and continues with the furious defense of officers Humphreys and Nice in the Chasse death, and Frashour in the Campbell death.

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One Response

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  1. Consult Hardesty said, on December 10, 2012 at 4:37 am

    This is important work, for in-depth analysis is constantly frustrated; when we look at cases individually, or when we look at culpability in bureaucratic slices. Your pursuit of ‘lawful use of authority’ brings cohesion. This work enables us to see tendons connecting the strata of justice denied (from self-exonerating Internal Affairs investigations to lack of oversight by civil authority in city governance, to the complicity of county officials and the State of Oregon’s unwillingness to pursue justice). I fear this constellation does not present itself as a result of benign neglect: you have apprised us of a system likely designed to produce the results it does. Keep pulling away the insulation. Justice will prevail.


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