Man who filmed Oregon police from an SUV gets probation

A man arrested after filming a Portland police precinct from a sports utility vehicle filled with weapons and ammunition has been sentenced to three years on probation after pleading no contest to unlawful possession of a firearm.

Eric Crowl, 39, signed the plea Friday, Multnomah County court records show. As part of the agreement, Crowl agreed to not possess weapons or monitor police officers.

Officers, on heightened alert after the ambush killings of Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police, arrested Crowl on Aug. 7 after he spent months watching and filming officers during shift changes at the East Precinct.

From his vehicle, they seized a rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, two 9 mm handguns, a loaded 100-round 5.56 mm magazine drum and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Also confiscated were hand-held radios, camouflage clothing and camping gear including a sleeping bag, food, camping stove and lantern.

Crowl's attorney, Bryan Francesconi, said in a telephone interview Monday that his client started filming officers because he witnessed police conduct he felt was inappropriate, and he believes an engaged citizenry must defend against law enforcement overreach.

Francesconi said Crowl visited the precinct without first unloading his car from a recent camping trip. He said the vehicle contained a number of lawfully purchased unloaded firearms, but one was inadvertently stored in a way that violates Oregon's concealed carry law.

Crowl "understands his decisions that day legitimately scared a number of officers," Francesconi said in a written statement. "Mr. Crowl believes almost all of the men and women of PPB are good people whom do important work."

Crowl was released from jail after his August arrest, but he was back in custody the following month after authorities said he violated terms of his pretrial release by removing a GPS monitoring device and staring into the garage of a federal worker.

A man employed as a federal inspector called police in September to report Crowl showed up outside his Portland home, accompanied by a woman and a teenage boy believed to be Crowl's wife and son.

He said the three stared aggressively at a government vehicle inside his open garage.

Crowl was released from jail after Friday's plea.