“God, we’re gonna get sued…”

Adan Salazar
August 14, 2013

Ever wonder what police officers actively engaged in wrongdoing discuss after they’ve pulled you over?

An animal rights activist documenting the ongoing animal cruelty taking place at the Big Loop Rodeo in Jordan Valley, Ore. has answered that question.

Activist Steve Hindi, founder and president of the non-profit animal rights group Showing Animals Respect & Kindness (SHARK), obtained police dash cam footage and microphone communications through a Freedom of Information Act request of a traffic stop which captured verbal admissions of wrongdoing on the part of police.

SHARKonline.org’s YouTube channel published the video complete with an audio transcription of the Constitution-infringing encounter. They also provide a lengthy background of their ongoing efforts to highlight the incestuous relationship between the rodeo and its protectorate, the Malheur County sheriffs.

“I didn’t want to stop the man,” one officer says following the stop, adding in a fearful tone, “God we’re gonna get sued…”

Hindi was recently pursued by two Malheur County sheriffs for about ten miles after he left the rodeo.

He was eventually pulled over and proceeded to personally film the entire 10-minute encounter, during which two superior officers came to the aid of the sheriffs making the stop, but refused to confront Hindi.

In the initial video (below) published prior to the FOIA request fulfillment, Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Belnap nervously claims they pulled Hindi over because he failed to “provide identification” after “trespassing” at the rodeo event, a claim Hindi later disputes saying he paid the $10 necessary to enter the rodeo grounds. Hindi was also never served a trespass notice.

Deputy Belnap returns and tells Hindi they were advised that he was trespassing and that he would be arrested the next time he tried to enter the rodeo.

Belnap also accuses Hindi of filming inside the event – despite the likelihood that hundreds of other people attending the rodeo were also taking photos or video – which Hindi denied offering his camera’s video footage as evidence.

In a feeble attempt to maintain some form of control over the stop, the officer then asks if he’s being filmed and erroneously tells Hindi that recording officers is not allowed in the state Oregon without notification. Hindi responds that it’s obvious he’s recording as the officer can plainly see his camera and states he’s read the law and knows what he’s doing is not illegal.

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Upon returning to their vehicle, the officers forget to turn off their recording devices.

The subsequent anxious conversation and reaction to discovering an active recording speaks volumes to the officers’ misconduct.

“He’s already going to get lawyers,” one officer, presumably Deputy Brian Beck, says, “We gotta go… This…this guy’s the real deal. This guy is the one that posted everything last year on his site.”

Beck next says, “Here’s the problem, they [the rodeo] didn’t trespass him when we were there… they asked him to leave.”

“Well, even so, we’re going off what we were told,” Belnap says, attempting to rationalize their unlawful mistake. “I wasn’t there so…”

“I didn’t want to stop the man,” Beck continues, adding “God we’re gonna get sued…”

“Perhaps you’re right,” Belnap says.

“We’re gonna be in a world of hurt here,” says Beck. “It’s all because of that rodeo board…. you know that, right?”

“Dammit I was still recording!” Beck announces when he finally realizes the dash cam is still on.

The damning evidence and explanation paint a picture of police corruption in Malheur County where local police protect (and are likely handsomely rewarded by) their local cash cow rodeo, admittedly at the behest of the Rodeo Board, of which several sheriffs are members.

In his video, Hindi further highlights an additional instance of criminality in which several Malheur sheriffs, including some involved in his stop, settled a lawsuit out of court following a warrantless home entry performed “without exigent or emergency circumstances” or “probable cause.”

The group’s website, SHARKonline.org, says their “number one tool is video footage and photographs!” Given the frequent misapplication of laws, filming all police encounters has unfortunately become a vital necessity for, not only animal rights activists, but all Americans.

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