EPD Gives Award to Taser Cop
The Eugene Police Department has given its “Officer of the Year” award to the police officer who police video showed shocked a teenaged pesticide protester in the back twice with a Taser while the protester lay face down with his arms pinned or behind his back.
The EPD gave officer Judd Warden the prize at an Awards Ceremony April 16. Numerous witnesses have alleged police brutality in the violent May 30, 2008 arrest of anti-pesticide protester Ian Van Ornum. Police officers allegedly pulled Van Ornum’s hair, twisted his arms and threw him to the pavement. Van Ornum suffered a concussion, according to his doctors.
The police Internal Affairs unit and independent police auditor and Civilian Review Board are investigating the incident. Van Ornum was convicted of the misdemeanors of resisting arrest and slowing traffic on April 16 and sentenced to probation and community service. A criminal appeal and a civil lawsuit against the city appear likely.
EPD gives the annual “Officer of the Year” award for “performance during a 12-month period that demonstrates a quality of work clearly and significantly exceeding the requirements of his/her position,” police spokeswoman Melinda Kletzok wrote in an email.
Warden was “nominated by employees based on the criteria,” Kletzok wrote. “There is a selection process with an employee committee and final approval by executive staff.”
The Eugene Police Union gave Warden its “congratulations” on its website.
This isn’t the first time a Eugene officer involved in a controversial use of force has won an award from fellow police officers.
In 2007 the Oregon Peace Officers Association gave its “Medal of Valor” to the EPD officer who shot and killed Ryan Salisbury, a suicidal, mentally ill 19-year-old holding a kitchen knife. Community members called for better police training, but police ruled shooting the teen four times with an assault rifle was justified self defense. —Alan Pittman