CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Benton County Sheriff’s Office is responding to a controversial YouTube video that was posted this past weekend – capturing an arrest in downtown Corvallis – saying the video was taken out of context and does not represent the entire story.
The video shows 24-year-old Lee Morrill demanding to know why he is under arrest. Deputy Aaron Gevatosky with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office is also shown in the video – asking Morrill multiple times to put his hands behind his back. In the meantime, members of a crowd are shouting at the deputy, also asking why the man is under arrest.
“Put your hands behind your back,” Deputy Gevatosky asks in the video.
“No,” Morrill responds.
“Put your hands behind your back!”
“No, I’m not going to comply until you tell me why I’m being arrested,” Morrill says in the video.
Esteban Bowles-Martinez, the man behind the camera, says what he thought was a mundane Saturday night traffic stop turned into something more.
“The officer said: ‘You’re under arrest,’ and that’s when I started to record the video,” he said. “It seemed strange that there didn’t seem to be any justification for this guy being arrested.”
Bowles-Martinez’s video, now on YouTube, had over 16,000 views Wednesday afternoon. Viewers are expressing disapproval, asking how the deputy had legitimate proof to arrest Morrill.
But Captain Greg Ridler with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office says the video did not capture the entire story. He says Deputy Gevatosky originally pulled Morrill over for speeding and for an expired registration.
“The deputy observed that the individual had alcohol smell from his breath; he observed open containers of alcohol in the vehicle when he first made contact with the individual,” he said.
Ridler says Morrill admitted that he was driving with a suspended license.
“He did not want to stay at the scene and tried to walk into a bar,” Ridler said.
Then, even though the deputy says he told Morrill to stay in the car, he says the man did not follow instructions.
“The deputy told him he was not free to leave and that he was under arrest at that time because the individual was not cooperating,” Ridler said.
Ridler says the deputy had probable cause to arrest him, and told him what he was being arrested for. He says Morrill also later refused a Breathalyzer. The Sheriff’s Office obtained a warrant to test his blood, but the results will not be back for about a month.
“We have a recourse for people who disagree with what we do.” Ridler said. “We have a criminal recourse. The person has an opportunity to go to court. Everybody who was there who witnessed this has an opportunity to be a witness in his defense.”