EUGENE, Ore. — A Springfield man who says he acted in self-defense after shooting and killing another man on Bob Straub Parkway pleaded not guilty Friday.
Police arrested 35-year-old Gerald Strebendt Thursday night.
Friends of Strebendt say he’s an intelligent man with a conscious and this is an unfortunate situation for everyone involved. Strebendt pleaded not guilty in the brief hearing that still leaves behind many unanswered questions.
More than five weeks after an alleged road rage incident on Bob Straub Parkway in Springfield, Gerald Strebendt is facing murder charges.
Police say soon after he got into a fender bender with 53-year-old David Crofut, the two got into a fight.
Many have questioned why a former Marine and MMA fighter would need a gun. Strebendt’s attorney says he felt threatened enough to take it out.
And, the defense is standing its ground even after the grand jury’s warrant.
“It remains our position that if an angry and hostile stranger acts aggressively to you, tells you he has a weapon and threatens to kill you, you are entitled to take him at his word. No armchair quarterbacking by the government changes that fact. Private citizens shouldn’t be held to a different standard than a police officer in a shooting. In this situation, a police officer would have been cleared of the shooting within days,” said defense attorney Mike Arnold.
Springfield police officers argue there isn’t a difference.
“The law is the same when it comes to defending yourself or using any kind of force, whether it’s deadly force or physical force. And all of those things get scrutinized, and I don’t think there’s any difference in the way police officers get treated and citizens get treated,” said Sgt. David Lewis, Springfield Police Department.
That includes comparing the two individuals in physical difference, expertise and ability. And they look at many different factors to see if self-defense is a reasonable claim. Ultimately, investigators say, at the end of the day, the evidence will speak for itself.
“All the police department does in something like this is we take the facts as we get them to see if they add up. In this case, we presented those facts to the district attorney’s office and the grand jury, and they came down with a warrant,” Lewis said.
No word on when Strebendt will be in court again. The court still needs to assign a judge to the case before any dates can be set.