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April 16, 2009 04:35 PM

The trial of taser victim Ian Van Ornum was called back on the record at 4:35 pm. No word on a verdict yet.

April 16, 2009 04:45 PM

The jury in the trial of taser victim Ian Van Ornum has asked, "what if we don't agree on the verdict," according to the judge.

Judge Jack Billings said he told the jury, deliberating for the past two hours, that not agreeing unanimously would result in a mistrial and the case would "likely" be tried again by another jury.

Billings said the jury told him, "they are making headway." The judge told the lawyers in the case to remain available as the jury result may come "relatively soon."

April 16, 2009 05:41 PM

(Ian Van Ornum photo by KVAL)

The jury in the trial of taser victim Ian Van Ornum found him guilty of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Van Ornum said that he was disappointed and surprised in the verdict, but declined further comment at this time.

The judge scheduled sentencing for 11 am next Friday, April 24.

Van Ornum said he didn't know what possible sentence he faced. His attorneys declined comment to reporters.

Prosecutor Bob Lane left the courtroom quickly without comment.

The Eugene police accused Van Ornum of 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 while he lay face down on the ground with his arms pinned under his side or held behind his back. Van Ornum's doctor testified that he suffered a concussion.

Prosecutor Lane told the jury in his closing argument earlier today that whether or not the tasering was justified was “irrelevant” to the criminal charges. “There might be an argument to be made that not everything the defendant did justified being tased,” he said.

But Lane said the brutality complaint was a matter not for the criminal trial but for the city of Eugene’s police auditor and or a civil lawsuit. “I don’t live in the city of Eugene, so it’s not my money. I don’t care,” the county prosecutor said.

April 16, 2009 05:39 PM

The jury in the trial of taser victim Ian Van Ornum found him guilty of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

April 15, 2009 07:19 PM

(Police taser gun video from KVAL)

A police taser gun video shows that a Eugene officer shocked a protester with 50,000 volts once for five seconds and then shocked him again 11 seconds later for another five seconds while the protester lay largely immobile, face down with his thin arms twisted behind his back or pinned under his side.

The police video was shown in stop motion at the trial of Ian Van Ornum today. Police allege Van Ornum slowed traffic at a pesticide rally last May and resisted arrest. Numerous witnesses alleged police brutality at the Broadway and Willamette event.

Eugene Police Officer Judson Warden testified for the prosecution that pesticide protester Van Ornum was “struggling” with officers and “swung his arms” with a handcuff on one wrist that the officer feared could be “used as weapon.”

But defense attorney Laura Fine confronted Warden with video from the officer’s own stun gun. After watching the video, Warden admitted that after the first tasing and a second before the officer tased him again, “it looks like both hands are behind his back.”

The tasings appeared to cause involuntary muscle spasms during their five second durations. “It appears that he’s in pain,” Warden said of his gun video.

Asked about the discrepancy between his earlier sworn testimony and the video from his own gun, Warden said he was “stressed” with menacing protestors during the arrest, “there’s so much going on.” Warden said he was “very scared.”

The three burly police officers at the scene did not draw their automatic handguns. The police guns are capable of emptying a large magazine in seconds. The protesters were unarmed. Testimony at the trial indicated there were as few as a dozen pesticide protesters at the noon rally which officers described as “peaceful” until the taser arrest.

Two other protesters plead guilty to attempted assault of the police while Van Ornum was being tasered on the ground. Van Ornum was not charged with trying to attack police and no police were injured.

Protester Anthony Farley, a former Eagle Scout now studying at the UO, admitted at the trial that he wrongly “pushed” Officer Warden at the rally after observing what he alleged was unjustified police brutality against his friend Van Ornum. “I was overwhelmed with emotion.”

Police admitted twisting Van Ornum’s arms, pulling his hair and shoving him against a wall and to the ground before tasering him in the process of arresting him for the misdemeanor charge of impeding traffic. Van Ornum’s attorney said he suffered a concussion.

April 15, 2009 01:16 PM

(Police Sgt. Bill Solesbee, KVAL pool photo)

After an anti-pesticide protest ended in a police tasering last May, the Eugene Police department issued a misleading press release that has been largely refuted by sworn police officer testimony this week.

The May 30, 2008 press release stated that taser victim Ian Van Ornum “was dressed as an exterminator and was spraying unknown liquid in the street. When the officer contacted him, he said he couldn’t be arrested and raised the wand toward the officer asking, 'Do you want poison in your face?'”

The press release, widely quoted in The Register-Guard and local TV news, implied that officers thought Van Ornum was threatening to spray them in the face with poison. Readers repeated the impression in letters to the editor. The EPD did not issue another press release to correct the impression.

But Eugene Police Sgt. Bill Solesbee testified at Van Ornum’s trial yesterday that he was the officer described in the press release and was not concerned Van Ornum would spray him with poison.

Asked if he was concerned about the sprayer, Solesbee testified, “no, not really.” The officer noted that if he was concerned he would have rolled up his SUV window but did not. Solesbee said he left the garden sprayer at the scene. “It’s not a crucial piece of evidence.”

Tom Keedy, an officer with the Department of Homeland Security who originally called for the EPD to intervene in the protest, also testified that he wasn’t concerned that Van Ornum had poison. Because the protest was against pesticides, “I assumed it’s innocuous,” Keedy said.

The EPD press release also described Van Ornum as “fighting” with police. But Solesbee and other officers in the case did not testify that Van Ornum struck or attempted to strike them, a common definition of fighting. Van Ornum was not charged with assault but with resisting arrest.

Solesbee testified that Van Ornum resisted being handcuffed, but did not say Van Ornum struck or attempted to strike an officer. “Did I square up and have a punching match with him? No,” he said.

April 14, 2009 05:25 PM

KVAL photo

(Video still of Ian Van Ornum and his defense lawyer by KVAL.)

The trial of taser victim Ian Van Ornum began today with testimony of a Homeland Security officer and Eugene police officer and the judge's ejection of an independent video taker from the court room.

Judge Jack Billings alleged that Tim Lewis, who regularly posts video on YouTube, had video taped members of the jury outside the courtroom in violation of a court order. Billings barred Lewis from observing the trial.

Van Ornum is charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest at an anti-pesticide protest last May. Protesters and Van Ornum allege that police used excessive force in twisting his arms, pulling his hair, giving him a concussion and tasering him twice. The trial is expected to continue through Friday.

The trial was originally set for Eugene municipal court with the city prosecutor. But the county district attorney decided to try the case instead in state court in a move protesters alleged was a political decision in response to their charges of excessive force.

The decision to elevate the municipal court case was unusual and came at a time that the district attorney and judges are claiming that they lack sufficient resources to try and prosecute burglars and dangerous felons. The DA case has effectively delayed an independent investigation of the charges of excessive force by the Eugene police auditor for almost a year.

Assistant District Attorney Bob Lane said in his opening statement today that the force used against Van Onum was justified by the protester’s resistance to arrest for slowing traffic through the Broadway and Willamette intersection. “This case is going to be an attempt to portray these officers as bad people,” Lane said. “There’s one person who’s to blame, the defendant.”

Van Ornum’s defense attorney Laura Fine said in her opening that police intervened in a peaceful protest in support of a county action to reform pesticide use. Police pulled Van Ornum’s hair, she said, “he was thrown against a wall, he was thrown against the ground.” She Van Ornum was later treated for a concussion.

Fine said police tasered Van Ornum with 50,000 volts twice within 30 seconds. “My client was subject to excessive force.”

April 13, 2009 09:50 PM

The Eugene City Council voted 7-1 to change the city's position on a proposed law allowing bikes to carefully yield and roll through stop signs from opposition to neutral.

A proposal to change the position to support the state legislation failed 5-3. Proponents said the law has worked successfully in Idaho for almost two decades and should also be enacted in Oregon.

April 13, 2009 09:32 PM

The Eugene City Council voted unanimously tonight to approve a grant application for a world-class skateboard park under the Washington-Jefferson viaduct.

April 13, 2009 10:33 PM

The Eugene City Council voted 7-1 to move forward with street assessments for Maple and Elmira streets.

The council left open the possibility of later voting to decrease the average $10,000 charge per home along the street by increasing the amount the city will pay for the street improvement project.

April 13, 2009 07:34 PM

The Eugene City Council voted to reinstate the independent police auditor but censure her for “poor judgment” in showing a private attorney for an alleged victim of police abuse a photograph from the police.

The photograph was of the citizen who filed the complaint against the police and then hired the attorney.

April 9, 2009 05:05 PM


Talkdemonic

With all due respect to our state capital, it's just not all that often that I find myself feeling hugely envious of an event they've got that we don't*. It happens, for sure: The Armory gets shows that skip right over us. Truly fascinating performers get booked for the state fair. Nifty things I notice when I'm working on the Summer Guide calendar pass me by when they finally come around, and I curse myself (mildly). And sometimes, something truly unexpected catches my eye.

This weekend is one of those times. As a press release rather colorfully puts it, downtown Salem is about to "transform into a bubbling cauldron of bleeding edge independent music" as the Cherry City Music Fest takes over.

No joke. A whopping 140 bands — Americana, blues, classical, country, electronica, folk, hip hop, jazz, Latin, metal, pop, psychedelic, punk, reggae and rock bands — are converging on 15 venues over three days. Among the lineup you'll find new bands from former Sassiest Boy in America (no, I'm never going to stop thinking that's funny) Ian Svenonius (Chain and the Gang) and Calvin Johnson (The Hive Dwellers); Eugene locals including Eleven Eyes, Disco Organica and Halie Loren; Portland indie standouts from The Thermals ** to Horse Feathers (sharing a Friday night bill, no less) to Talkdemonic to Super XX Man; and more bands you've never heard of than you can shake a stick at.

Some bands are doing double duty on Saturday, playing the festival and then booking down to Eugene for night shows: San Francisco's Maus Haus plays at 6 pm in Salem, then at the WOW Hall later that night, while Eugene's Ingredients will hurry from a 4 pm Cherry City show to a show with the Dead Americans at Luckey's.

The festival's Web site says it has a three-part mission: to provide an opportunity for musicians, support local businesses and give proceeds to nonprofits the Mid-Valley Video Festival and Isaac's Room. I'd bet, though, that there's a fourth part that goes unlisted: to do something really, really cool that involves a shit-ton of musicians and plays mix and match with venues and styles.

Now who wants to pick this ball up and throw a similar festival in Eugene?

* Sensitive Salemites, please note: I promise you I am not dissing Salem unilaterally. I am referring solely to the specific sort of events that convince me, myself and I to get on the ol' I-5 for the bazillionth time. I've spent a lot of time on I-5. Sometimes I think I have the scenery memorized. Sometimes I really want a teleporter. Actually, very often I really want a teleporter.

** The new Thermals album, Now We Can See, just came out last Tuesday. In fact, they're playing tonight in Portland. I would like to be there. Barring that, I would like to be in Salem tomorrow night. Neither of these things is going to happen, so I'll be listening to the record on repeat until at least next Tuesday. If you like the Thermals, you'll like the record: They're not exactly reinventing the wheel, but that's why I like 'em so much. They write Thermals songs: Hutch Harris yelps conversationally, the songs bounce along smartly, the lyrics are a touch cynical and a touch hopeful and a touch political; it all adds up to something that had a very small WOW Hall audience dancing as cheerfully and enthusiastically as possible last time the band played here. How I wish they would come back. (I intend to write an actual review of this album once I've had more than, y'know, a day with it. For right now, it's just crush at first listen. It happens.)

April 7, 2009 09:47 PM

In 2006, a little movie called Brick surprised the hell out of me. A high school noir, thick with complicated, stylized detective language, mysterious figures and femme fatales? Skepticism levels were high — and for some people, the conceit didn't work.

It was my third-favorite movie of the year — though to be more honest, it was one of my three or four favorite movies of the year in the sort of multiple-way tie that lists don't generally allow for. I've been waiting since then — or at least it feels like it's been that long — for director Rian Johnson's follow-up film, The Brothers Bloom. When first I heard of it, it was supposed to open last fall. There was a preview in the mainstream theaters and everything.

Then the release date was December. Then it was January.

Then it sort of disappeared off my radar.

Now it's set for May 29. All that date switching could be a bad thing, but I prefer to think it's just a sign that the world doesn't quite know what to do with Johnson's peculiar and charming sort of heightened-reality storytelling. This time through, he's made a film that appears to be about two brothers trying to pull that one last con on a slightly odd woman who's spent her life collecting hobbies. Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody are the brothers; Rachel Weisz is the mark; Rinko Kikuchi, from Babel, is the muscle.

It's a recipe I have a lot of hope for. Today, the movie's Twitter account turned up a new trailer, which, in the words of the post, is slightly similar to the old trailer. There may be some sarcasm here; it actually looks very, very similar to the old trailer, with a few new glowing quotes wedged in. It's still enough to make me cross my fingers that this time, the damn movie will actually come out. I hope.

(Want more? Here's an interview with Johnson at Film.com.)

April 6, 2009 05:27 PM


Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in Adventureland.

Immediate thought upon leaving the theater after Adventureland: I want to hug that movie and everyone involved with it. I'd also like to buy them all a beer. Though that would probably be a lot of beer.

But truth is, when the movie started with The Replacements' "Bastards of Young," I was pretty sure it was getting off on the right foot. You can find the entire list of songs from the film here, though as this blogger points out, there are 41 tunes in the movie and 14 on the soundtrack, which is quite the bummer. You've got your Falco, your Poison, your Lou Reed, your Animotion, your Priest — and a score by Yo La Tengo. Even if the movie wasn't worth it (though it is; more on that in Thursday's paper), you could just listen to the damn thing and be happy.