By Associated Press • 

Washington man says Oregon police used excessive force

EUGENE — A man who got kicked out of a Social Distortion concert in Eugene last fall has filed a complaint against two city police officers, saying they unnecessarily used a stun gun during an incident outside the venue.

Stephen Hedrick, 24, of Longview, Washington, said he was on his knees, surrendering, when police fired a stun gun at him. Hedrick said he was hit near an armpit and the waist.

“It hurt pretty bad,” he told The Register-Guard newspaper. "I'm not going to sugarcoat it."

Eugene police say they used the stun gun because Hedrick repeatedly refused to follow commands.

Hedrick was sentenced to six days in jail last week after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct and no contest to harassment. Before turning himself in, he filed the excessive-force complaint with police auditor Mark Gissiner.

The incident happened Sept. 30, after Hedrick was booted from the McDonald Theatre for fighting with another concertgoer.

Hedrick waited outside rather than leave because the band was still playing and his friends were inside. When the concert ended, the man Hedrick had scuffled with came out, too, and an argument ensued.

Hedrick said police officers approached but did not identify themselves. Hedrick said he slipped out of their grasp and backed into a nearby shop window. That's when police yelled at him to sit down, apparently fearful that the window would break, he said.

Hedrick said he got on his knees.

“I don't understand why they took such drastic measures,” Hedrick said. “I thought Tasers were usually a kind of last resort, not usually a first thing.”

Eugene police officer Joseph Stewart, in a signed affidavit, said he identified himself as a police officer. Stewart states he and another officer were called to the theater for a report of a disorderly man who had been banned for fighting and was starting another fight.

During the confrontation outside the theater, police said, Hedrick grabbed a woman by the face and pushed her to the ground after she had interceded in an argument between Hedrick and another concertgoer.

Stewart grabbed Hedrick's left arm while telling him he was under arrest for interfering, the affidavit says. Hedrick then turned around and adopted a fighting stance, with both fists raised, the affidavit says.

While police tried to put Hedrick in handcuffs, he backed into a plate glass window, the officer said. Fearing it would shatter, the officers backed away and Stewart drew his stun gun.

“I gave him repeated verbal commands to get onto the ground and place his hands behind his back,” Stewart said. “Hedrick squatted down and raised his hands and placed them behind his head. I again told him to lie on the ground and place his hands behind his back. I advised Hedrick if he did not do so he would be tased. Hedrick did not comply.”


Information from: The Register-Guard,

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