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Man charged with bias crime at Medford rally to stand trial next week

A White City man is scheduled to stand trial next week on accusations he used his vehicle as a weapon and was “motivated by prejudice” when he allegedly accelerated his truck into a crowd of demonstrators in downtown Medford last year.

Christopher Ryan Biggs, 39, is scheduled to trial starting Tuesday in Jackson County Circuit Court on felony charges that include first-degree bias crime and unlawful use of a weapon surrounding a June 1, 2020 incident during which witnesses told Medford police they saw Biggs drive a large black Ram pickup truck “at a high rate of speed” into a crowd of anti-racist demonstrators in an incident captured on video, according to court documents filed in the case.

Police say the truck struck at least one pedestrian marching in the street over the murder of George Floyd, and broke the skin on an anti-racist demonstrator’s hand.

In earlier court filings and news reports, defense lawyers indicated that they planned to argue that Biggs was acting in self-defense.

Biggs allegedly told police at the time that he was only downtown to find his daughter, who told police she’d called her parents for help because protesters had “swarmed” her vehicle.

He claimed at the time that protesters where hitting his truck and trying to get inside; however, police say they found no video evidence of anyone trying to get inside his truck.

A Medford police officer allegedly witnessed Biggs shouting “You f---ing queers” at demonstrators along West Sixth Street minutes before the altercation.

Biggs allegedly claimed that the homophobic slur came from another truck in the area.

A Nov. 19 court filing shows that Biggs’ defense lawyer is disputing the testimony of a witness who selected Biggs’ photo as a suspect based on a choice of only two pictures, according to a Nov. 19 filing by defense lawyer Maryanne Pitcher. She claimed the way Biggs was identified “was procured by the state through highly suggestive means.”

The second photo provided to the witness was that of David Robert Westmoreland, 53, another suspected counter-demonstrator accused of drawing a gun during a separate June 1, 2020, altercation near the corner of Ninth Street and Central Avenue that was witnessed by a Mail Tribune reporter covering the demonstration.

Westmoreland faces two felony counts of unlawful use of a weapon with a firearm on accusations he used or threatened to use a deadly weapon during the altercation.

No trial has been scheduled in Westmoreland’s case, and court records show that he recently retained a new defense lawyer. His next court appearance is a pretrial conference scheduled for Dec. 20.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.