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ShareThisMarch 17, 2010

By Anita Burke
Mail Tribune
A week after being taken into protective custody and having his guns seized because of police concerns, 39-year-old Medford resident David J. Pyles wants to make sure what happened to him doesn't happen to anyone else.

Pyles, a planner at the Oregon Department of Transportation, wrote an e-mail to Medford Mayor Gary Wheeler and the City Council demanding that they address what he called "alleged civil rights violations."

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Listen to voicemail provided by David Pyles Police negotiators and a SWAT team descended on his Effie Street home in the predawn hours of March 8 after police had watched the home overnight, a police news release said. Law enforcement officers across Southern Oregon had become concerned that he might plan to retaliate against his employer after he was placed on administrative leave, then bought two handguns and an AK-47 rifle.

Pyles said he is involved in a personnel matter at ODOT that is being handled through his union.

He surrendered to the team voluntarily and was taken to Rogue Valley Medical Center for a mental health evaluation. Police said they took five firearms "for safekeeping."

"What do you and my other elected officials and representatives plan to do to ensure a similar militaristic police action never happens to another resident of Jackson County, Oregon? To another Oregonian? To any U.S. citizen?" Pyles' e-mail said.

The e-mail also included messages Medford police Detective Sgt. Scott Clauson and a dispatcher named Monica left during the negotiations. The messages explain that Pyles' employer had reported concerns and police knew he had firearms.

Pyles' e-mail describes this as evidence of coordination or collusion and calls for an investigation, perhaps by a grand jury.

Mayor Gary Wheeler said that he and the council "aren't involved in day-to-day command matters" of the police department.

"I have full confidence in the department," he said.

He and several council members refrained from public comment on Pyles' case, noting that legal action could arise from the incident.

City Attorney John Huttl said that Pyles hadn't filed any formal indication of a suit as of Tuesday afternoon, but language in his other correspondences seemed to point in that direction.

Pyles said he hasn't retained an attorney yet, but has consulted with legal experts.

James Leuenberger, a Lake Oswego criminal defense attorney with an interest in gun-rights cases, said he had talked with Pyles. He said he hadn't been retained, but he would like to be a resource for any attorney on the case.

"What it boils down to is an employer can't just have an employee put in jail or a psych ward," Leuenberger said.
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