In another good cop story, an Oregon police officer was central in helping to free a wrongly accused man.
Pendleton Police Corporal Chris Freeman has become what his Chief, Stuart Roberts, said about many policemen, and that is that they often become officers with a real desire to help people.
Freeman was heralded in a post at MyColumbianBasin.com in October for what he did to help a man serving a 50-year sentence, ultimately leading to setting him free.
The story begins at the 2017 Pendleton Round-Up. Freeman answered a call from a young woman who accused her stepmother, Kelli Horner, of assaulting her. He found the woman, and arrested her, but he also listened to her and he listened to her stepdaughter.
Roberts said Freeman felt there was more to the story. He found out the stepmother’s husband was in prison, serving a 50-year sentence for sexually assaulting his daughter (the stepdaughter). His wife was convinced he was not guilty, and Freeman felt the young woman’s story didn’t ring true.
“He had a hard time believing what the daughter’s saying,” Roberts said. “He, on his own, continues to consult with her. He went out and did some legal research and tried to educate her on how you can challenge a wrongful conviction.”
Freeman did that work on his own time, and she followed Freeman’s advice.
“She pursues everything that the officer tells her to do,” Roberts said. “She gets the Oregon Innocence Project to take Dad’s case.”
The project gained its first ever exoneration when it agreed to take Josh Horner’s case. At the time of the trial, the daughter testified she never reported the abuse because her father killed her dog and threatened to kill other pets. The dog in question was found alive and well, and the daughter’s story began to crumble.
Last month, speaking for the state of Oregon, Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel apologized to Horner and dismissed all charges according to a report by OPB. His conviction was not unanimous. Oregon does not require unanimous verdicts with the exception of murder.
Kelli Horner credits Freeman with playing an important role in exonerating her husband.
“You disproved a lie and cracked a juvenile criminal liar, and did it flawlessly, unlike our local police and county DA,” she wrote recently in an email to Freeman. “We would like to see you get recognition for finding the truth.”
Roberts said he’s proud of Freeman for pursuing that truth.
“Most people enter this profession because they have a tremendous amount of human compassion and they really do want to make a difference,” he said. “In this particular incident, Corporal Freeman made a difference in somebody’s life.”
Roberts said Freeman could have easily ignored the feeling that didn’t ring true.
“He could have easily made the arrest, walked on, not listened to anything,” he said. “I mean, these aren’t even residents of his community or his county. But it’s about justice. It’s about liberty. It’s about doing the right thing. It was a very touching example of who and what police officers really are.”
Friends, if Freeman conducts himself in his other duties as he did in this case, he is an asset to his community. I truly wish all police officers and those who serve the people in whatever capacity performed their duty as he did in this case.
Well done. Officer Freeman!
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