Judge: Activist guilty of interfering, but won't be punished

AP News
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Posted: Feb 10, 2017 2:41 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon woman who stopped to observe troopers after they stopped a black driver has been found guilty of interfering with a police officer.

Keely Meagan of Ashland parked on the edge of Interstate 5 after noticing the traffic stop in September, reported The Mail Tribune (http://bit.ly/2kXyrtL ). Meagan, 55, said she was concerned about the driver's safety because of nationwide reports of police violence against black men.

Jackson County Circuit Judge David Hoppe found Meagan guilty of the misdemeanor interfering charge Thursday and dismissed a violation for illegal parking. He said Meagan has a right to observe police but shouldn't have stopped so close to a highway interchange.

"You can continue to do that in a safe area. That wasn't safe, and I think you recognize that," said Hoppe.

Deputy District Attorney Jordan Bailey said he was pleased with the guilty verdict because Oregon State Police have to manage situations on I-5 that can be very dangerous.

Meagan said she understood the police officer's concern about the situation after watching police video of the incident. But she also said during Wednesday's trial that she feels a duty to stop every time she sees a black driver pulled over by police.

Meagan, who lost her job as a driver's education instructor after being charged in the incident, will face no further punishment, Hoppe ruled. He said he didn't consider her actions a case of civil disobedience but lauded the activist for her empathy.

Although there have been no shootings of black people by local law enforcement officers, Meagan said she has "witnessed a lack of understanding on the part of officers of the reality of black people in this country and the fear they have of being killed for no good reason."

According to testimony during the trial, the driver who was pulled over admitted to having consumed marijuana but passed field sobriety tests. He was not charged with a DUI but his vehicle was towed because he was driving without insurance.

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Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/