Jury finds Buford innocent of assault, guilty of resisting arrest and related charges

by: Vern Uyetake, Gary Buford

A jury has found Lake Oswego resident Gary Buford guilty of four of five charges he faced after a check for possible tree code violations on his property devolved into a scrap with police last year.

Buford, 73, had pleaded not guilty to charges of assault of a public safety officer, interference with a peace officer, harassment and two counts of resisting arrest.

The allegations stemmed from an incident at his home on Camelot Court, where city employees showed up April 14, 2011, to investigate whether stacks of logs seen from a neighboring property were legally cut. The city requires residents to obtain permits to cut down most trees larger than 5 inches in diameter at breast height.

At some point in the investigation process, tempers flared, and the situation devolved into a physical altercation between Buford and police.

Friends and family members awaiting the verdict breathed an audible sigh of relief when Judge Robert Herndon announced the jury found Buford not guilty of assaulting a police officer, a charge related to bite wounds Lake Oswego Police Officer Bryan Sheldon suffered on two of his left fingers during the incident. The crime carries a mandatory minimum sentence of jail time.

However, the jury unanimously found Buford guilty of the other charges. His sentencing is scheduled for June 25.

Jurors deliberated for about an hour before delivering their verdict at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Clackamas County Circuit Court. The trial began Tuesday, with attorneys giving opening statements Wednesday morning.

Clackamas County Deputy District Attorney Lewis Burkhart contended that Buford showed 'absolute disregard for police' helping execute a search warrant at his property and that Buford believes he is 'above the law.'

Buford's attorney, David McDonald, said his client was acting in self defense.

After hearing the jury's verdict, McDonald said, 'They were certainly justified in finding him not guilty of the assault. We just really wish they understood, as we believe, that he was just trying to do the right thing.'

A full story including details from witness testimony will appear in next week's Lake Oswego Review and online at lakeoswegoreview.com.