Embarrassed over a deputy’s comments made to a 14-year-old girl while arresting her Saturday, Oregon sheriff’s deputies are now threatening to arrest the man who recorded the video.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is claiming Darren Hall violated the state’s wiretapping law when he stepped outside his apartment, stood on some stairs and recorded the deputy berating the girl for having argued with her mother over the girl’s use of makeup.
Deputy Brian Klostreich was standing in the doorway of the girl’s apartment, telling the girl she is lucky she does not live in the Middle East where she would get killed for disobeying her parents. He also tells the girl’s mother that he would have beaten her daughter even more if she were his kid.
The Oregonian reported on the video, prompting the Washington County Sheriff’s Office to release the following two statements.
This is concerning the September 10, 2016 arrest of a 14 year-old girl for Harassment. A 25 minute video of the deputy’s interaction with the girl and her family was recorded and distributed by a neighbor.
The Sheriff’s Office releases the following statement:
As the deputy spoke to the girl, he made inappropriate comparisons to women of other beliefs and cultures as a way to illustrate to the young woman her situation was not as bad as she thought.
While we believe the deputy was acting in good faith, there is no question that his remarks were insensitive and inappropriate. We hope to turn this incident into a learning opportunity for the rest of staff.
So even though they admit Klostreich’s comments were “insensitive” and “inappropriate,” they claim the comments were made in “good faith,” so all is apparently forgiven.
But do they take that approach with Hall for recording the video? Take a wild guess.
It is my understanding that there was a video recording of a domestic violence incident involving a minor this weekend, and that there is probable cause to believe the video was made in violation of ORS 165.540. It is also my understanding that the domestic violence victim wishes to press charges against the suspect who illegally captured the video and audio of a private conversation within the victim’s home and then posted it to a public forum.
As you are aware, ORS 165.540(1)(c) makes it a crime to obtain an in-person conversation, and 165.540(1)(e) makes it a separate crime to “Use or attempt to use, or divulge to others, any conversation, telecommunication or radio communication obtained by any means prohibited by this section.” In light of that, any further disclosure of the illegally captured video will likely result in additional criminal charges for violation of this statute, and could also result in civil liability for invasion of privacy.
The Oregonian has made a request for a copy of the police reports involving the underlying domestic violence charge. In light of the fact that there are at least two criminal investigations arising from this incident (one for domestic violence and one for the subsequent unauthorized recording of an in-person conversation without notification and an additional count for unauthorized disclosure of the conversation) we will not be able to provide any information pursuant to a public records request pursuant to ORS 192.501(3) as it is investigatory information compiled for criminal law purposes.
However, if you look up the law they cited, you can see that they have no probable cause to arrest Hall on these charges.
For example, ORS 165.540(1)(c) states a person is forbidden to:
(c) Obtain or attempt to obtain the whole or any part of a conversation by means of any device, contrivance, machine or apparatus, whether electrical, mechanical, manual or otherwise, if not all participants in the conversation are specifically informed that their conversation is being obtained.
And that section obviously made the deputies very happy, thinking they had all they needed to arrest Hall for embarrassing them with his video.
But they apparently did not read further down in the law, which states the following:
(5) The prohibitions in subsection (1)(c) of this section do not apply to:
(a) A person who records a conversation during a felony that endangers human life;
(b) A person who records a conversation in which a law enforcement officer is a participant, if:
(A) The recording is made while the officer is performing official duties;
(B) The recording is made openly and in plain view of the participants in the conversation;
(C) The conversation being recorded is audible to the person by normal unaided hearing; and
(D) The person is in a place where the person lawfully may be;
We can assume that Klostreich was performing official duties considering we see him leading the girl off in handcuffs.
And we can also assume the recording was made openly and in plain view of both the girl and deputy because the deputy acknowledges Hall as he leads the girl away, even if he never turned his head beforehand to notice him standing there recording.
And we can also assume Hall did not have any high-powered microphones to record the deputy because he was making no attempt to keep his comments private.
And we can assume that Hall had every right to be where he was standing considering he lives in that complex.
So we can assume that the Washington County Sheriff’s Office is trying to retaliate against Hall for posting the video.
And we can also assume they contacted the girl’s mother and convinced her to file a complaint against Hall.
Sgt. Bob Ray, a sheriff’s office spokesman, said the sheriff’s office believes that Hall’s recording was illegal because, for part of it, the deputy was talking to the family inside their apartment. The deputy’s voice is audible from outside the unit and the door is left open.
Ray said the girl’s mother wants to make a criminal complaint about the video. Ray would not say how the mother learned about the footage.
So we can ultimately assume the Washington County Sheriff’s Office is not acting in good faith by threatening to arrest Hall.