Smiling in the parking lot of the Jackson County Courthouse Wednesday, Charles Albert Colenaty was relieved his trial is over.
The 32-year-old homeless man's arrest on the Ashland Plaza May 19, 2016, was videotaped by a bystander and posted online. In the video, Colenaty, who goes by the name “Redwood,” can be heard yelling out that he cannot move because he is autistic and afraid. It takes four officers to hold him down and handcuff him.
The video has been watched more than 200,000 times.
Colenaty was found guilty by a six-person jury on three counts, two of resisting arrest and one of interfering with a peace officer, and not guilty on a charge of assault in the fourth degree. One resisting arrest charge was for an earlier encounter with authorities March 31.
He was ordered to perform 240 hours of community service within 18 months.
“I’m excited to be able to do community service," Colenaty said after sentencing. "I’m hoping to work outside with plants, to clean things up, or to work with other autistic people. I’m so happy to be able to do service.”
His charges involved interfering with an officer when Colenaty told police they could not ask another homeless man to see proof that his dog was a service dog. Colenaty, according to police, interfered with their duties and began yelling.
An account of the arrest by the Ashland Police Department said Colenaty walked toward officers and initially refused to back off. Officers on scene called for backup to arrest him, and it was during that time Colenaty sat down on the bench.
The convictions could have resulted in jail time, which prosecuting attorney Chelsea Ashton recommended, saying that Colenaty would be better off serving 10 days.
“We don’t believe he is stable enough for community service. We request 10 days in jail,” she told Judge David Hoppe.
But the Colenaty’s attorney, Colin Murphy, said his client would complete his service.
“He is very amenable to community service and he is excited to do it," Murphy said. "We all know our jail is full. I’d much rather he do community service. If he doesn’t do it, then it reverts to jail.”
— Email Ashland freelance writer Julie Akins at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/@julieakins.