The arrest of Charles Albert "Redwood" Colenaty by Ashland police on the Plaza last spring was a viral video sensation online, leading many to accuse the police of using excessive force to subdue the 6-foot-5, 300-pound autistic man. Almost a year later, Colenaty's case finally came to an end, and we think the outcome appears positive for all concerned.
The 32-year-old homeless Ashland resident ran into trouble on May 19, 2016, when he loudly told police they could not lawfully ask another homeless man to prove his dog was a service dog. Officers asked for help to detain the physically imposing Colenaty, and by the time reinforcements arrived, he was sitting on a bench and refused to move.
Officers physically removed him from the bench and arrested him. A bystander took video of the arrest and posted it online, where 200,000 people have viewed it.
The officers' actions may appear excessive to viewers, but the video does not depict the entire encounter. In any case, a six-person jury found Colenaty guilty of two counts of resisting arrest (one from a previous encounter with police) and one of interfering with a peace officer, and not guilty of a charge of fourth-degree assault.
Colenaty was sentenced to 240 hours of community service, although the prosecutor asked for jail time. Colenaty said he was happy because it will give him something to do.
That's a good outcome. Jurors found the arrest was justified, but locking up Colenaty would not be.