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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Citizen Fines Cop $35 For Illegal Parking

Posted by Matt Davis on Wed, Jul 23, 2008 at 3:31 PM

Downtown Police Officer Chad Stensgaard has just been found guilty of parking his patrol car illegally outside the Sansai Japanese Grill on NW 21st, while on duty back in March--in a case brought against him by a regular citizen.

stensgaard.jpg
STENSGAARD: COP IN THE DOCK...

Stensgaard was found guilty this afternoon of parking in a no parking spot while he went inside the restaurant to get take out food on the middle of his shift, and fined $35 by traffic court Judge Terry Hannon. The case against Stensgaard was brought by newly-qualified lawyer Eric Bryant, who happened to be eating in the restaurant when Officer Stensgaard came in to grab a bite to eat, earlier this year.

Bryant asked Stensgaard why he was parked illegally, but the cop told him he could do what he wanted, and went back to watching a basketball game on the restaurant's TV, Bryant alleged. So he decided to take the cop to court using an Oregon statute that lets citizens file citations with the District Attorney. And it turns out, Bryant was in the right.

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BRYANT: TAKING ON THE MAN...WITH DIAGRAMS...

"I'm just pleased that the judge held that parking laws apply to police officers as well as to ordinary citizens," Bryant told the Mercury, after the judge had ruled.

Lawyers for Stensgaard argued he was justified in parking outside the restaurant because his patrol car contained guns and expensive equipment that could be dangerous if it fell into the wrong hands. But the judge ruled that while he felt the officer had acted reasonably, the parking laws apply to everyone. Including cops.

Bryant's attorney asked Stensgaard why he couldn't have gone to a McDonalds or a Starbucks nearby, somewhere where he could have parked legally.

"I don't eat fast food," Stensgaard responded. "And I don't drink coffee."

Too bad.

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