Chris Collins
The Baker City Herald

Baker City Councilor Adam Nilsson has served notice to city and county officials that he plans to file lawsuits against Baker County and the Baker City Police Department and employees of both entities.

The lawsuit is tied to an incident on Aug. 1, 2017, when Nilsson and a friend made a trip to an abandoned cement plant along Interstate 84 near Huntington.

Nilsson, 46, of 307 Hillcrest Drive, submitted letters by registered mail and in person earlier this week that state his intent to sue Baker County and Sheriff’s Department employees Lt. Jef Van Arsdall and deputy Gabe Maldonado, and the Baker City Police Department.

Nilsson said he sent the letters in order to meet the 180-day time line for tort claim notices — a step required for people who plan to file lawsuits against public bodies or their employees.

Nilsson is claiming Fourth Amendment violations of unlawful search and seizure by Van Arsdall and Maldonado during the Aug. 1 incident at Lime.

Nilsson, who is an artist and also serves on the Baker City Public Arts Commission, said he and his friend, Ashley E. Schroder, 30, of Portland had traveled to the area to look at the artwork painted on the abandoned buildings at the site, which is just north of Interstate 84 about four miles northwest of Huntington.

Schroder was charged with trespassing and Nilsson was charged with trespassing with a firearm and one count of criminal mischief in connection with their visit to the area, which is posted as no trespassing.

In asserting unlawful search and seizure by Maldonado and Van Arsdall, Nilsson objects to the way the officers conducted their investigation of the allegations of trespassing and how he and Schroder were treated by Maldonado and Van Arsdall.

Nilsson contends that Maldonado searched the saddlebags on Nilsson’s motorcycle without asking for consent.

In November, Nilsson appeared in Baker County Circuit Court and pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree criminal mischief, a Class C misdemeanor, for spray painting graffiti at the abandoned cement plant.

As part of a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office, the charge of criminal trespass while in possession of a firearm, a Class A misdemeanor, was dismissed.

Prior to the court date, the Baker City Police obtained a warrant to search Nilsson’s home, and on Aug. 9 officers seized items that Nilsson claims were outside the parameters of the warrant.

In his Jan. 19 letter to the police, Nilsson says he is making a claim “for taking advantage, for looking into my personal business and property without anything approaching a justifiable reason.”

See more in the Jan. 29, 2018, issue of the Baker City Herald.