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Police Records Contradict Police Testimony in Taser Trial

Police cell phone, dispatch and taser time stamps contradicted a Eugene police sergeant’s testimony that Ian Van Ornum caused a long traffic back-up during an anti-pesticide protest last May.

Van Ornum is on trial for allegedly slowing traffic (disorderly conduct) and resisting arrest at an anti-pesticide protest last May. Many witnesses have accused the police of brutality in the arrest. Police video in the case shows that Van Ornum was tasered twice in the back while he lay on the ground face first with his arms pinned under his side or held behind him by police.

Eugene Police Sergeant Bill Solesbee testified at the trial that before the arrest Van Ornum backed up traffic two blocks. The police officer swore under oath that it took him seven to 15 minutes to drive through the backed up traffic to the Broadway and Willamette plaza.

But police cell phone records and taser gun time stamps obtained by the defense indicate such a delay is impossible.

Solesbee’s cell phone records and police dispatch records indicate that Solesbee called police dispatch at 1:12 pm before leaving for the protest. Police taser gun time stamps indicate that Van Ornum was tasered by another officer while Solesbee was arresting him at 1:16 pm. That’s four minutes later, not the seven to 15 minutes Solesbee testified.

Defense lawyer Laura Fine pointed out that in the documented four minutes, Solesbee testified that he drove to the scene, talked to Van Ornum for about 30 seconds, drove around the block, parked and moved Van Ornum across the street.

Under cross examination Solesbee admitted, “I’m really not very good on time as you can see by my testimony.” But Solesbee maintained the traffic delay was “outrageous.”

Fine told the jury in her closing argument that the documented discrepancies should cast doubt on Solesbee’s entire testimony that Van Ornum was slowing traffic and resisting arrest. “He can’t be relied on.”

Prosecutor Bob Lane shrugged off the time discrepancy in his closing. Lane said that actor John Belushi’s watch was not accurate in the movie Animal House.

The jury has been deliberating on a verdict since 2:30 pm today.