An Oregon Court of Appeals ruling exonerating a convicted burglar because police unlawfully stopped him could curtail the power of police to learn if people they encounter are wanted for a crime, The Oregonian reports. “It’s something that everyone in Oregon should be happy about,” argues Ryan O’Connor, the public defender who successfully fought for the court to reverse Travis Alan Rider’s burglary conviction. “A police officer can’t just stop someone in downtown Portland and say, ‘Hey, what’s your name? I’m going to check your name for warrants.’ ”
Portland police and the Multnomah County district attorney’s office said if the ruling stands, it would deprive officers of the ability to do good police work. The court’s ruling last week stems from the 2005 burglary conviction of Rider, who was 19 years old when police encountered him in a motel room. They were looking for another man suspected of burglary who had fled seconds before they arrived, leaving Rider and two others behind. A police officer asked Rider and the others for their names, and they voluntarily gave them. Within earshot of Rider and the others, he told another officer to “run these people for me on the radio.” That, the court ruled, constituted an unlawful restraint or “stop” of the room’s occupants because police didn’t have “reasonable suspicion” that the three were involved in a crime. Any reasonable person wouldn’t think that they were free to leave while the officers were checking for warrants, the court said.