Eric Crowl takes plea deal in weapons case

As part of the plea deal, Eric Crowl was sentenced to 3 years of probation.

Eric Eugene Crowl was arrested with an arsenal of weapons in his car. (PPB)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The man who police say was in possession of a cache of weapons, ammunition and other items in his vehicle while across the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct took a plea deal and will avoid jail time.

The four-day trial for Eric Eugene Crowl was supposed to start Monday, but it was cancelled after he took a plea deal on Nov. 4.

According to court records, Crowl pled no contest to one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. A no contest plea means that Crowl isn’t disputing the charge, but he’s also not admitting guilt.

As part of the plea deal, Crowl was sentenced to 3 years of probation.

Crowl was arrested by PPB on Aug. 7. He was contacted by officers while he was inside a parked SUV across the street from the bureau’s East Precinct. Inside his vehicle, police found a cache of weapons, ammunition and other items.

According to police, beginning in April 2016, officers began noticing Crowl parked outside East Precinct in his gray Chevrolet Tahoe. The officers reported that Crowl was filming police and seemed to be watching officers enter and leave the building during shift changes.

On Aug. 7, police contacted Crowl at 2:50 p.m. He was stopped by officers for a traffic violation. At the time, officers did not see any firearms in his vehicle at that time. He was released. At approximately 9:30 p.m., Crowl returned to East Precinct and appeared to be conducting surveillance of the building near shift change.

Officers were able to get Crowl to exit the vehicle and pat him down for weapons. Officers looked through the rear window of the Tahoe and could observe an arsenal of weapons and ammunition, including:

  • 56 rifle
  • 12 gauge shotgun
  • 9 mm handguns (2)
  • 100 round 5.56 magazine drum (loaded)
  • Hundreds of 5.56 and 9mm rounds of ammunition
  • 56 tracer rounds
  • Handheld radios
  • Police scanner
  • Camouflage clothing
  • Various camping gear including sleeping bag, food, camping stove, and lantern.

Originally, Crowl’s bail was set at $1 million, but a judge found him to be a good candidate for release.

Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Glen Banfield said his office had to take a “close look at [Crowl’s] behavior upon his arrest.” Banfield said he believes a plea agreement holds Crowl accountable.

“There were a lot of [PPB] members who were quite alarmed, and rightful so,” Banfield said of Crowl’s behavior.

Crowl’s defense team has long maintained that the weapons and equipment inside Crowl’s car were left over from a recent family vacation he had taken. When asked if Banfield believes that, he said “if we went to trial, I would have put on the evidence of those officers” who would have testified that when they saw the vehicle hours earlier, the vehicle was not filled with weapons and equipment.

We’ve learned that all of the firearms inside Crowl’s vehicle were lawfully owned. The one for which he was found to be in illegal possession for was found concealed inside his vehicle’s center console and was “readily accessible,” according to Banfield.

As part of his plea agreement, Crowl has been ordered not to be in possession of a firearm and has been told he cannot engage in any behavior that could be seen as filming or monitoring the police.

While on release, allegations surfaced that Crowl, his son and wife, walked by the residence of a Department of Homeland Security police officer. A judge determined that Crowl had violated the terms of his original release agreement and ordered him to be held pending trial.

Crowl was released on Nov. 4 as part of the plea agreement.

As part of the plea, the state dismissed the one count of unlawful use of a weapon that Crowl had been charged with.

“In April, Mr. Crowl began observing and filming the Portland Police Department due to his sincere belief that an engaged citizenry must actively defend against law enforcement overreach.  Most of these encounters ended with PPB attempting to contact Mr. Crowl. None of these prior contacts were violent or involved weapons in anyway. Unfortunately, on August 7,2016, Mr. Crowl went to East Precinct without first emptying his car from his family’s just returned two week camping trip. Along with various pieces of camping equipment, the car also contained a number of lawfully purchased unloaded firearms, one of which was inadvertently stored in such a way as to violate Oregon’s concealed carry law. Mr. Crowl regrets having attempted to observe the police with guns in his car and understands his decisions that day legitimately scared a number of officers. Mr. Crowl believes almost all of the men and women of PPB are good people whom do important work. As part of his agreement with the Court, he agrees to no longer observe police nor possess any firearms for the foreseeable future.” – Bryan Francesconi, criminal defense attorney.