|Rudy arrested/Photo by Ethan Sing|
Coconino County Sheriff: "I'm arresting you for talking"
By Rudy Preston
San Francisco Peaks, Snowbowel Road -- On Saturday August 13, 2011 I was engaged in a conversation with the operator of a rock crusher on Snowbowel Road. He and I know each other by name and face. He said "hi Rudy" as I approached. We engaged in dialogue about the nature of the work he was doing. I feel it is desecration, and he said it was just crushing rock. This went on for a little while and I think we have both enjoyed the debates we have had this summer. At least to the extent that he did not ask me to leave and the conversation stimulated both our minds.
Then Dale Haelund, comes speeding up and screeched to a halt and started waving a camera around and yelling "get out of the construction area." At that point I began to approach the vehicle to ask him where the construction area was and did he have the right to dictate where to be on public lands. I did not want to leave because the conversation with the rock crushing machine operator was going along nicely and I was not asked to leave by him.
Dale drove the vehicle directly at me nearly hitting me, but I did not move and he halted in front of me. Had he not stopped he would have hit me and then the rock crushing machine. I went to his window and told him to call the police or an authority to explain the "construction area" to me and also to stop taking my picture over and over again. Dale knew me by name and face. I learned his from the police report but have seen him before. I was now quite upset from the adrenaline of almost being run over so I told Dale to leave me alone and to get the police or something because I felt he was harassing me.
I stood beside Dale's vehicle with my hand up and Dale childishly wiggled his camera back and forth saying, "I got one, I got one." Officer O'Farrell with the Coconino County Sheriff's Office then approached us. He did not do anything but say hi to Dale and told me that I was in a construction zone. I asked him to please have Dale stop taking my picture, but he ignored my request. So I asked him where the construction zone was, because it is not marked. Officer O'Ferrell told me I have to be on the west side of the road. I complied with his request immediately while Dale got out of his truck and taunted me from behind the officer and took more pictures. After I crossed the street and stood where I was allowed Officer O'Ferrell moved up nose to nose with me as Dale taunted me. This felt quite threatening, especially since I complied with all orders that he gave me and was standing exactly where he told me I could stand.
Officer O'Farrell then told me that he felt threatened by my hand covering my face to block the pictures and pulled my arm down to my side. I put my hand down as I had no intention of threatening physical violence. I verbalize to the officer that I meant no violence or harm to him. But I continue to tell Dale to stop taking my picture and that Dale was harassing me and would the officer please make Dale stop harassing me. The office told me to "shut up".
I say to him, "let me turn my back to you so you understand I mean you no harm and so I don't have pictures taken." I just wanted Dale to leave me alone and to get fair treatment in the situation by the officer. Once my back was turned, officer O'Ferrell grabbed my arm and said to Dale, "you know if you tell me that you want to be a victim and you want to press charges, I can arrest him." Dale shouted his enthusiasm and then started to harass the people who witnessed the whole incident and were standing a few feet from me on the same (legal) side of the road.
In a situation like this I did not want to be hurt and I did not want to be perceived as resisting so I choose to remain limp. O'Ferrell and a Forest Service Law Enforcement employee who had just arrived stood over me while I was face down on the ground and cuffed me. I asked O'Ferrell what they arrested me for and he said, "I'm arresting you for talking."
I was incredulous, and demanded I be released immediately and that I wanted to press charges against Dale for both trying to hit me with his car and then for standing behind the officer inciting the incident.
The Sheriff's officer then grabbed me by my arms and attempted to drag my limp body, but decided not to drag me because of the outcry from the people watching. After he put me down, I was able to speak to the Forest Service Officer (name not known) and explained I was willing to forget the whole thing if Dale would do likewise, otherwise I insisted on pressing charges against Dale for driving his car at me. My dog was at home alone and I had no intentions of going to jail that day.
Officer O'Ferrell said, "you can press charges when you get out of jail."
My question for officer O'Ferrell is "Who do you protect, who do you serve?" Because your actions on Saturday were surely not in your duties as a police officer. I have every right to talk. You came to the scene and served your friends and protected nothing. In fact you violated the constitution. It did not go unnoticed by me as you sat outside the police car you put me in and joked with Dale Haelund and JR Murray, General Manager of Snowbowel, who had arrived just then. I watched as JR Murray triumphantly smiled and said "take him away."
After I bailed myself out and got a good nights sleep I pressed charges against Dale Haelund and filed a complaint against officer O' Farrell.
"Who do you protect? Who do you serve?"