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Turning the Tables

Citizen Issues Parking Ticket to Cop

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A CITIZEN who watched a cop illegally park, then walk into an Asian restaurant to wait for his food, has issued the officer a series of citizen-initiated parking violations.

Eric Bryant says he was sitting in the SanSai Japanese Grill on NW 21st and Hoyt on March 7 when he witnessed Officer Chadd Stensgaard pull up and park his patrol car illegally, next to a "No Parking" sign.

Stensgaard walked into the restaurant wearing his police uniform, but did not make any arrests or citations. Instead, he turned his attention to the basketball game on television, according to Bryant. When Bryant asked Stensgaard about his vehicle, Stensgaard allegedly acknowledged being in a no-parking zone but asked Bryant, "If someone broke into your house, would you rather have the police be able to park in front of your house or have to park three blocks away and walk there?"

Bryant returned to his seat, and says shortly afterward he watched a restaurant employee hand the officer a plastic bag before he left. Unfortunately for Officer Stensgaard, Bryant had recently passed the Oregon bar exam, and decided to pursue the matter further.

"If he had acknowledged and corrected his error, we could have avoided this whole thing," says Bryant. "But instead, he kept watching basketball and told me he wasn't doing anything wrong."

 Now, using ORS 153.058, Bryant—as a private citizen—has initiated violation proceedings against Officer Stensgaard. Bryant alleges Stensgaard was in violation of state statutes on illegal parking, illegal stopping, obeying parking restrictions on state highways, and illegal operation of an emergency vehicle or ambulance—the violations carry fines totaling $540.

Officer Stensgaard has received a Multnomah County summons to appear in traffic court on May 23. Meanwhile Bryant denies he is just stirring up trouble.

"Citizens should be concerned that he used his status as an officer of the law as justification for breaking the law," he says.

Stensgaard declined comment through the cops' office of public information.

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