Police Abuse

Oregon Cops Illegally Parked Cars, Arrested Tow Truck Employees Who Asked for Proof of Ownership, Lawsuit Alleges

Cops also apparently cursed out a business owner who warned them they were parked illegally


Salem Police Dept

A federal lawsuit filed in Portland, Oregon, accuses officers from the Salem and Keizer police departments and from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of abusing their authority after five of their unmarked police cars were towed and impounded in the course of a stakeout in January 2012.

The cars were parked illegally on a private lot. A local business owner noticed it, and instead of calling a tow truck immediately, he tried to do the courteous thing. It didn't pay off, via The Oregonian:

A business owner noticed unauthorized cars in the lot at 4743 Lancaster Drive NE, the complaint states. The business owner left a note on the windshield and, the next day, spoke personally with one of the drivers who "responded with expletives" that they would not be moving the cars, the lawsuit states.

The driver, presumably, was either one of the undercover cops or someone working for them. It was only after receiving such an anti-social response to such a basic attempt at being polite that the business owner called the property trustee, who called the towing company.

Eventually, a couple of police officers made their way to the towing company to get their unmarked police cars back, BUT:

They were unable to provide license plate or the vehicle ID number or other proof of ownership, the complaint states, but one officer was allowed to retrieve a bag that had his name on it from one of the cars. The two officers left, saying they would return with the necessary information, the complaint states.

Instead, the Oregonian reports, a larger group of cops, in and out of uniform, came into the towing company office:

That's when Sgt. Andrew Roberts flashed his badge at the two tow-truck employees, telling them that it was all the identification he needed to get the cars, the complaint states. The employees soon found themselves arrested and handcuffed in the back of a patrol car.

The lawsuit claims the cops didn't have probable cause for the arrest, and that the towing employees constitutional rights to due process and against unreasonable seizures were violated. The lawsuit also claims Roberts threatened to arrest the lawyer of the detainees for asking questions. The tow truck company fought in court for a year over the incident, and the lawsuit seeks to recoup relevant losses, and asks for $500,000 for each of the two arrested employees for pain and suffering.

The city of Keizer wants the judge to dismiss them from the lawsuit, it claims only one of the cops were from their department and he did nothing wrong. The city of Salem declined to comment to The Oregonian, while there are few details as to the DEA's role in the specific incident or whatever wider investigation the cops were involved in.

h/t Brian L

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  1. Nobody expects The New Professionalism.

    1. +1 Python reference.

      1. The Salem police are famous for two things, trespassing on private property and not producing proof of ownership of their cars. And arresting people on BS charges. So, three things! And burning witches, no, that’s the Salem, Mass police.

      2. “Our chief weapon is fear. Fear and surprise. Our two weapons are fear and surprise, and a fanatical dedic-… Our three weapons are fear, surprise and a fanatical dedication to the Derp.”

  2. Why is it I keep getting the feeling we’d be safer without the police?

    1. When you realize they’re just the biggest gang in town, you get that feeling.

  3. OT: US Senators to FIFA: Kick Russia out of 2014 World Cup

    Russia apparently didn’t like this idea. Has one of their own:

    In light of US’s military aggression against several sovereign states such as Yugoslavia with no particular reason; Iraq and Libya — alleged search chemical weapons; attempt to invade and occupy Syria and numerous cases of human rights violations all over the world revealed by E. Snowden, we respectfully ask that you urgently convene an emergency session of FIFA to consider suspending US’s membership in FIFA, and denying the United States team the right to participate in the upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

    1. FIFA should listen. They’re both good ideas.

      1. If FIFA kicked them both out, I would have to take back all the bad things I have said about FIFA.

      2. It would set soccar back twenty years in the US!

        1. Yay!

        2. What’s a soccar?

          1. I believe it’s an absorbent pad used by women.

    2. Would many people in the US notice if FIFA kicked them out?

      1. USA! USA! Bomb FIFA!

        I think so.

    3. Listen, everybody knows that FIFA will only consider this if you hand deliver it to each member of the deciding panel on top of a suitcase full of money.

      1. So true.

        The US just played the Ukraine and it was all “human interest” crap as expected. I suppose you would have to kick out the Ukraine too to make it stop.

      2. Wow, their prices have gone down – no hookers or blow with the cash?!

        1. Good point. Better odds if you have it delivered on top of a suitcase full of money by a pack of nubile prostitutes carrying sackfuls of blow.

    4. Oh, Jesus Fuck. Must everything be political? I thought national sports teams were supposed to represent the nation, not the shitty government thereof.

    5. U.S. response: *flop*

  4. Lemme skip to the end here:


  5. I think I would have set the cars on fire or have stolen them. But I’m sort of an asshole sometimes.

      1. That’s the unfortunate reality today. Sometimes cars just crop up with every.single.window broken. Weird!

  6. I’m a bit too lazy to dig through the linked articles. What were the employees even arrested “for”?

    1. Duh: Contempt of Cop.

      1. No, that’s what they were actually arrested for. I asked what they were arrested “for”.

        1. Probably something like “obstruction of justice” or “interfering with a police investigation.” You know, the go-to synonyms for “contempt of cop”.

        2. Article F, Section Y, Subsection T, Clause W of the Oregon criminal code.

    2. Not respecting their authoritay

    3. They resisted arrest.

    4. The officers lacked probable cause to arrest the two men, the lawsuit states, violating their constitutional right to due process and protection against unreasonable seizure. The officers did not tell them what crime they were accused of committing, the plaintiffs claim, and they also accuse Roberts of threatening their lawyer with arrest if he kept asking questions. An assistant city attorney for Salem declined to comment on the lawsuit.

      1. This would seem to make it a pretty slam dunk of a case.

        1. Almost as big a slam dunk as video showing a bunch of cops beating a man to death while he begged for mercy.

  7. The city of Keizer wants the judge to dismiss them from the lawsuit, it claims only one of the cops were from their department and he did nothing wrong.

    I wonder why they were even involved at all. The stakeout location is a mile outside of their territory.

    1. They were probably part of some super ninja, cross jurisdictional, ultra task force to fight drugz!

  8. LOL. Literally a day after posting this on The FB:
    “After 24 years living outside the Rose City and viewing it as the rest of the country does I’m convinced there’s only 3 types of Portland news stories that achieve escape velocity and make it to the national outlets: the comedic, the stupid, and the comedically stupid. Calling 911 on a cat would be the latter. Keep it weird PDX!”

    This would fall into the ‘stupid’ category.

    1. Salem isn’t Portland, dude.

      1. Come on. Salem is pretty much Portland.

        1. Not really. The craziness that infests Portland isn’t nearly as evident in Salem.

          1. The “cops parking illegally and terrorizing citizens to escape any consequences” story seems to indicate otherwise.

            1. That’s cops being cops. Portland is really in it’s own category.

              1. No, actually he’s right and you’re wrong, Salem is Portland.

    2. there’s only 3 types of Portland news stories that achieve escape velocity and make it to the national outlets: the comedic, the stupid, and the comedically stupid.

      C’mon. You know its true.

  9. Let me see if I got this straight: The towing co. wants to make sure nobody steals municipal property, so they’re careful about who they release the vehicles to. For making sure that only the cops drive away the cop cars, they get arrested. And the plainclothes police don’t want to show their vehicle registration or their own ID because, uh, that would compromise their cover…so they show up with a bunch of uniformed police and arrest the employees. Did I miss anything? Oh yeah, cursing out the business owner…that was just art for art’s sake.

    1. cursing out the business owner…that was just art for art’s sake.

      That was just maintaining their cover. It’s not like they’re assholes in real life… Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket.

    2. Oh wait, and then there was the DA prosecuting these guys for a year because…s/he was confused, I guess.

  10. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Oregon (found this retweeted by Balko in his twitter feed)

    We are so fucked.

    1. I’m afraid to look. Is this about a weighmaster’s being shot, as alluded to in the Oregonian comment thread?

      1. No – it’s almost kinda worse. Or scarier. Or something undefinably creepy.

  11. Pirates vs. Pirates.

  12. If we are going to have a death penalty (I’d rather we didn’t), this is what it should be for. I don’t give a shit about murderers. These fucks (the cops if that was not completely obvious) should just die.

    I’ll believe that there are good cops when something like this results in the vast majority of police doing everything they can to put scum like this in prison (or death row if they adopt my idea).

    1. I’d settle for the good cops administering a beating like the one the platoon gave Pyle in Full Metal Jacket.

  13. If those cops would have been doing their jobs, they would have shot the impound yard dogs.

    1. That’s why they lost the case, SOP was not followed.

      your comment made my day thank you

  14. We are more safer then police. Finding an accessible and reliable Blocked Driveway Towing Ozone Park
    is not an easy task to do and yet they are creating more problems.

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