BY Matt Davis
Apr 17 – Apr 23, 2008
A CITIZEN who watched a cop illegally park, then walk into a Chinese restaurant to wait for his food, has issued the officer a series of citizen-initiated parking violations.
Eric Bryant says he was sitting in the SanSai Japanese Grill on NW 21st and Hoyt on March 7 when he witnessed Officer Chad Stensgaard pull up and park his patrol car illegally, next to a "No Parking" sign.
Stensgaard walked into the restaurant wearing his police uniform, but did not make any arrests or citations. Instead, he turned his attention to the basketball game on television, according to Bryant. When Bryant asked Stensgaard about his vehicle, Stensgaard allegedly acknowledged being in a no-parking zone but asked Bryant, "If someone broke into your house, would you rather have the police be able to park in front of your house or have to park three blocks away and walk there?"
Bryant returned to his seat, and says shortly afterward he watched a restaurant employee hand the officer a plastic bag before he left. Unfortunately for Officer Stensgaard, Bryant had recently passed the Oregon bar exam, and decided to pursue
the matter further.
"If he had acknowledged and corrected his error, we could have avoided this whole thing," says Bryant. "But instead, he kept watching basketball and told me he wasn't doing anything wrong."
Now, using ORS 153.058, Bryant—as a private citizen—has initiated violation proceedings against Officer Stensgaard. Bryant alleges Stensgaard was in violation of state statutes on illegal parking, illegal stopping, obeying parking restrictions on state highways, and illegal operation of an emergency vehicle or ambulance—the violations carry fines totaling $540.
Officer Stensgaard has received a Multnomah County summons to appear in traffic court on May 23. Meanwhile Bryant denies he is just stirring up trouble.
"Citizens should be concerned that he used his status as an officer of the law as justification for breaking the law," he says.
Stensgaard declined comment through the cops' office of public information.
153.058 Initiation of violation proceeding by private party. (1) A person other than an enforcement officer may commence a violation proceeding by filing a complaint with a court that has jurisdiction over the alleged violation. The filing of the complaint is subject to ORS 153.048. The complaint shall be entered by the court in the court record.
(2) A complaint under this section must contain:
(a) The name of the court, the name and address of the person bringing the action and the name and address of the defendant.
(b) A statement or designation of the violation that can be readily understood by a person making a reasonable effort to do so and the date, time and place at which the violation is alleged to have occurred.
(c) A certificate signed by the complainant stating that the complainant believes that the named defendant committed the violation specifically identified in the complaint and that the complainant has reasonable grounds for that belief. A certificate conforming to this section shall be deemed equivalent of a sworn complaint. Complaints filed under this section are subject to the penalties provided in ORS 153.990.
(3) Upon the filing of a complaint under this section, the court shall cause a summons to be delivered to the defendant and shall deliver a copy of the complaint to the district attorney for the county in which the complaint is filed. The court may require any enforcement officer to serve the summons.
(4) If the complaint does not conform to the requirements of this section, the court shall set it aside upon motion of the defendant made before the entry of a plea. A pretrial ruling on a motion to set aside may be appealed by the state.
(5) A court may, acting in its sole discretion, amend a complaint filed under the provisions of this section.
(6) A court shall dismiss a complaint filed under this section upon the motion of the district attorney for the county or of the city attorney for a city if:
(a) The district attorney or city attorney has brought a proceeding against the defendant named in the complaint or intends to bring a proceeding against the defendant named in the complaint; and
(b) The proceeding is brought by the district attorney or city attorney by reason of the same conduct alleged in the complaint.
(7) Any political subdivision of this state may require by ordinance that violation proceedings for the purpose of enforcing the charter or ordinances of the political subdivision may not be commenced in the manner provided by this section and that those proceedings may be commenced only by enforcement officers.
(8) A person other than an enforcement officer may commence a violation proceeding under this section only for:
(a) Boating violations under ORS chapter 830, or any violation of rules adopted pursuant to ORS chapter 830 if the violation constitutes an offense;
(b) Traffic violations under ORS chapters 801 to 826, or any violation of rules adopted pursuant to those chapters if the violation constitutes an offense;
(c) Violations under the wildlife laws, as described in ORS 496.002, or any violation of rules adopted pursuant to those laws if the violation constitutes an offense;
(d) Violations under the commercial fishing laws, as described in ORS 506.001, or any violation of rules adopted pursuant to those laws if the violation constitutes an offense; or
(e) Violations of ORS 618.121 to 618.161, and violation of rules adopted pursuant to those laws if the violation constitutes an offense. [1999 c.1051 §11]
(a) A private person may arrest another:
(1) For a public offense committed in the arresting person's presence;
(2) When the person arrested has committed a felony, although not in the arresting person's presence; or
(3) When a felony has been committed, and the arresting person has reasonable cause to believe that the person arrested committed it.
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