Eugene police Chief Pete Kerns ruled on Monday that the actions of police at the anti-pesticide rally held downtown, where officers made three arrests and twice stunned former University student Ian Van Ornum with a Taser, were justified.
The announcement ended the several month-long internal affairs investigation police conducted, examining the police’s actions at the May 2008 rally.
Officers arrested Van Ornum, then 18, Anthony Farley, also a University student at the time, and Greenleaf organic farmer Day Owen.
Farley pled guilty to attempting to assault an officer, and after going to trial, Van Ornum was convicted of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Charges against Owen were subsequently dropped.
University student Carly Barnicle, who attended the rally and testified in court in Van Ornum’s defense, reacted to Tuesday’s ruling saying she would be “completely surprised if the EPD did not applaud the actions of officer (Bill) Solesbee and (Judd) Warden.”
“I believe the city of Eugene needs a stronger oversight committee completely independent of the police department,” she added.
The conclusion to the Van Ornum case comes just a few weeks after another Taser incident came to light. In September, an international University student was shocked by the same officer who used a Taser on Van Ornum.
The officer, Judd Warden, allegedly thought the Chinese student was trespassing on a townhouse property, but since the student spoke limited English, communication barriers prevented Warden from understanding that the student lived in the unit.
An internal investigation into the case is underway.