Day 3 of Skrah trial: "...It was kind of an 'oh s***' moment"

Former Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah looks on as defense attorney Rosalind Lee questions Deputy Jesse Ginestar on Wednesday. (KTVL/Mike Marut)

Klamath County, Ore. - Eyewitnesses to an arrest in January 2014 say they saw former Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah strike Jason Charles while deputies were arresting him.

The three deputies there at the time testified on Wednesday. Two of the deputies are still with the Klamath County Sheriff's Office while the third has since left to become an investigator for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

"The sheriff moved forward and in the midst of this I saw two punches to the face," Jesse Ginestar, a patrol deputy with KCSO who was in training at that time, said during his testimony.

Deputy Wesley Packer and former Deputy Jason Weber said they saw similar strikes.

"To [put it] bluntly, it was kind of an 'oh s***' moment because your supervisor, basically the boss, who can fire me for whatever, I just witnessed it," Weber said. "Of all the training I get, they touch everything. That's not generally something they cover at the academy nor through follow-up. I didn't know how to act. It [was] literally uncharted territory for me."

"I saw the sheriff strike Mr. Charles in a manner to be consistent with trying to correct a child who is misbehaving," Packer said.

Packer continued on to say he was shocked by the behavior and response because he had never seen Skrah strike anybody before.

Into the afternoon on Wednesday, an independent investigator - David Kirby - from the Oregon Dept. of Justice and a teacher for the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training took the stand.

The DPSST training officer discussed Use of Force training and was asked if Skrah's particular response, according to the officers, was appropriate for the situation.

"It might be justified for an initial strike if [the suspect] were to become immediately violent and I needed to control them, but if they were simply resisting arrest and we could get ahold of them, we would be looking for less forceful means," Scott Willadson, the DPSST officer, said.

The testimony was full of complicated answers, especially when it came to Use of Force. Weber said he saw Skrah strike Charles once with a closed fist, Ginestar called it two punches and Packer said he saw two open-handed strikes.

This is the third inappropriate Use of Force charge in the case against Skrah. None of the deputies who testified on Wednesday filled out Use of Force reports - which officers are required to do when witnessing Use of Force.

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