Peter Ferrari and I have lived together in Lake Oswego for 15 years. Over the past three years we have repeatedly been harassed by the Lake Oswego police and city prosecutor, and have been denied our constitutional rights under the municipal judge. The following is a brief account of our experience:
n In May 2008, I was issued a ticket for 'driving while suspended' while standing in a parking lot three months after the 'alleged' driving incident. The issuing officer claimed he saw my car on State Street, but lost the vehicle in traffic even though he was on his motorcycle and in a 25 mile per hour zone.
n In April, 2009, Peter had an argument with his sister at our residence (I was not home). Someone heard the commotion and called the police. When they arrived, Peter's sister was leaving and told the police Peter had alcohol splashed in his eye. The police knocked on the door, but Peter, being asleep, failed to answer. The police kicked in our door with their weapons drawn. When questioned about his eye, Peter explained it was an accident that happened several hours earlier. (I had met Peter briefly at a local establishment, we both grabbed the same glass at the same time and some alcohol got splashed in the corner of Peter's eye.)
Upon arriving home and discovering the damaged front door, I called the police to complain. Did they apologize or offer to fix the door? No, instead, I was arrested and charged with harassment. I was not allowed home for 45 days, while Peter made several appearances in front of the judge stating that 'nothing happened' and that I wasn't home the evening in question. I was denied a copy of the police report by the prosecutor, who insisted he had a 'witness.' It was later discovered the 'witness' had told the police that she never saw anything, and had tried repeatedly to convey this to the prosecutor, to no avail.
n For two months, several police and two plain clothes detectives 'stalked' Peter all over town and at Intel, his place of employment, displaying his picture and telling staff to call the police immediately if he was seen.
The conduct we have been subjected to by the police, prosecutor and judge is incomprehensible:
Multiple unwarranted police stops, breaking and entering without warrant or probable cause, misleading police reports, badgering or intimidating witnesses, claims of a victim and witness that didn't exist and pursuing charges anyway, repeated denial of police reports, ignoring subpoenas and motions, attempting to prosecute and penalize beyond precedence, and denying the right to counsel.
Is this the judicial system we want for our community where a judge and a prosecutor can make up the rules as they go with no accountability? Where constitutional rights, including due process and equal protection under the law may be bent or broken at their pleasure?
If this can happen to one citizen, it could happen to all of us. We should let our council members know that we expect more from our public officials who take an oath to serve; lest we must remind them that their oath includes protecting our constitutional rights as well.
Kelly Freed and Peter Ferrari are residents of Lake Oswego.