Benton County, Oregon cops & D/A can’t do their jobs with any competence at all

The author of this post concludes by encouraging those wronged by criminal injustice system actors to share their story. What do you think? What can each of us can do to mitigate the double-standards often documented here on CopBlock and other police accountability sites? -Pete

I was pulled over in Corvallis, Oregon for failing to signal when two lanes became one and was in the right lane. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to signal as my lane didn’t “end” so much as the dotted white line disappeared. The officer said he was just giving me a warning and I couldn’t understand what for. (as this had actually happened about 1.5 miles earlier). and asked the officer to show me in my DMV manual.  At first he refused and walked away, but then went berserk and angrily demanded my ID and when I froze for a few seconds in shock he pulled me out of the car and handcuffed me for allegedly failing to provide ID. (he originally wasn’t going to cite me).
There were three Benton County Sheriff’s Office employees involved – Eric Konzelman, Justin Bowers, and Al Schemelhorn.
I was angry and told them so. I was put in jail for several hours and my car towed. I went to fight it and when I got to court they had added a new charge of “Interfering with an officer.” I tried to fight them and tried to get the police video, but was stonewalled.  I took them to court and during the trial Officer Schemelhorn claimed I had made a threatening remark (a complete fabrication).   The judge threw out the charge of  “failure to carry and present ID” because the police officer in his report had said that they removed my wallet at the scene and identified me.   So they threw me in jail even though they knew who I was and that I had a valid drivers license.   This “mistake” meant that the officers had to make up a new charge of “interfering” in order to justify their illegal actions after the fact.
(in fact at trial, officer Konzelman was asked if he would do anything differently and he said that he would NOT have identified me via my license.   In other words, the officer learned a “dirty trick” in order to throw someone in jail and in the future would use it)
The trial  for “interfering” ended in a mistrial, and I hoped that this lunacy would be over,  but instead they convened a “grand jury” to charge me with 3 felonies- 2 counts of Felony Perjury and 1 count of Obstruction of Justice. $265,000 dollars in fines and 12 years in jail….for telling the truth.
Repeat..$265,000 dollars in fines and 12 years in jail for telling the truth.
At the hearing, now both deputy Konzelman and deputy Bowers now claimed to have magically “remembered” 6 months later that I had made a threatening remark, even though no such thing had occurred.
At the arraignment a completely different lawyer actually ran out to my lawyer in the hall and was flabbergasted that they had done this.
I folded and had to accept a plea bargain because I could no longer afford to fight these jerks. Basically they had four trials (one main trial, one grand jury, one hearing and finally an arbitration hearing. I reckon they spent 10-20 thousand dollars, maybe a lot more. They settled for a fine of $0 and No community service but I had to plead guilty to interfering with an officer (a class A misdemeanor). I had to spend $7000 defending myself and about seven months out of my life. (I’d like to add that both police cars “claim” that their video cameras were turned off (so I could not disprove the threatening remark claim) and that it would cost nearly $300 for me to get the dispatch tapes and another $300 dollars to get the make and model of the video equipment. They (The sheriff’s office)  were being so evasive I don’t think I ever would have gotten anything.   They all know that it’s easy to make evidence disappear when they want to and it’s nearly impossible to prove.   I repeatedly asked for the make and model of the video equipment.  But they couldn’t even give me the correct car identifications.
It was hopeless.
The D/A that charged me with 2 counts of felony perjury (for telling the truth) his name was David Amesbury and he works in Benton County District Attorney’s office.
Interestingly enough I had an experience with this same D/A. I had been robbed about one-year earlier and the thief stole two credit cards and a computer and several other things. We went to one of the stores and got a video of the thief using the credit cards. It seemed a slam dunk as the thief was on parole. It took about two weeks to make an arrest and when they did, the thief admitted to the credit cards, but claimed he didn’t steal the other stuff. He was put in jail for 24 hours and released. At his trial the D/A REFUSED to prosecute for the other stolen stuff and accepted a plea bargain for time served (i.e. ONE LOUSY DAY IN COUNTY JAIL for $2500 of stolen stuff).
I’ve never been arrested for anything in my life before and used to support the police, but this is insane. They let the criminals OFF and prosecute normal people for made up crimes….it makes no sense on any level.
What have I learned?
a) Basically you can’t talk back to the police even when you are just trying to determine what you did.
b) The police have no problem lying their asses off
c) When the situation starts getting out of control the Sheriff will side with the deputies and against the public
d) The D/A will charge you with any crime he wants in order to hurt you.
e) Any video evidence will “disappear” if the police do something wrong.
f) The legal system is a joke.   It only functions with the good graces of those involved and
when their intentions are no longer honorable it doesn’t work….
g) most people will initially take the word of the police over yours, but upon serious investigation they will
eventually learn just how corrupt they can be….it’s pretty scary.
h) The first trial ended up with a hung jury.  That was scary in itself that some people would be willing to send me
to jail for a long time because basically “that’s what the laws says”….never mind whether it’s moral or right, or even
that it happened the way the police said it did..
i) Lawyers are ridiculously expensive…..if you hire one, you better be rich.
I’m extremely disillusioned with the justice system. It doesn’t even being to work unless you are rich and famous.
I can’t imagine what to tell people to do. If you let the police bully you, then you allow a bad situation to continue,  you stand up for your rights, then you will be made an example of. I can only suggest keeping a recorder and using it at all times, but even that might get stolen as my car was completely searched and then towed.
IMHO the police are allowed to get away with such abuse, because the average person doesn’t know about it. I think the best thing is to continue to tell people that police abuse does exist and to keep telling your stories and eventually, hopefully enough people will get fed up with it and start to do something about it.

Benton County Sheriff’s Office
180 NW 5th St.
Corvallis, OR 97330
541-766-6858

EPN

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