MALHEUR COUNTY, OR — After performing an illegal traffic stop along the side of the highway, police officers made shocking admissions in the privacy of their police cruiser, explicitly saying that the stop had been illegal and they would probably be getting sued. They topped off their frustration when they realized that their discussion was documented in their own video recording of the incident. “We’re going to get sued… We’re going to be in a world of hurt here… Dammit, I was still recording!”
The traffic stop occurred because animal rights activist Steve Hindi had been ejected from the Jordan Valley Big Loop Rodeo. The rodeo is a huge event in Malheur County. Well, it’s a huge moneymaker for the Sheriff’s department at least. You see, the department not only raises money at the rodeo, but several Sheriff’s Deputies also sit on the board. Some Deputies forgot that about those pesky cruiser camera’s and started discussing all types of incriminating information, including writing illegal tickets.
Hindi was kicked out of the rodeo for trying to record video. Signs went up rather quickly, and the deputies enforced their “new” event rule. Hindi left when asked, and was subsequently pulled over approximately 10 miles away from the rodeo. The deputies informed him he was “permanently trespassed” at the rodeo and would be arrested if he ever returned.
The recording shows the officers discussing how they didn’t want to pull him over, their plan for justifying the illegal pull over and how they were in a world of trouble. Even going so far as to blame the deputy board members of the rodeo for forcing them to pull him over. Then finally one realizes the camera is on and acknowledges that “DAMMIT, I was still recording.”
The group “Showing Animals Respect and Kindness” (SHARK), with whom Hindi works, decided there must be more to the story of him being pulled over and banned from the rodeo. They submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and got more than the answer they expected. The first 30 seconds of the footage are erased, so one can only assume that was the orders to pull him over. It would stand to reason that they can use these deputies as scapegoats. Based on the footage, it would be easy to say that these deputies were independently speaking and have no actual knowledge of what they were talking about. However if you add the orders coming through for them to follow, it proves the corruption was sanctioned.
The video below is Steve Hindi’s 5-minute summary of the incident. The full traffic stop can be viewed here.
Contact the Sheriff and the District Attorney to voice your concerns about this behavior.
Malheur County Sheriff’s Department
Phone: (541) 473-5510
Email Sheriff Brian Wolfe: firstname.lastname@example.org
Malheur County District Attorney Dan Norris
Phone: (541) 473-5127
Email Dan Norris: email@example.com