A German immigrant claimed he was strong-armed by an Athena policeman and then further soaked by a city judge after being caught speeding through the small Umatilla County town in 1952.
Konrad H.L. Linke, who emigrated from Germany to the U.S. and landed in Milton-Freewater in November of 1951, claims he was driving home with a co-worker after a shift at Harris Pine Mills in Pendleton at about 2 a.m. on Aug. 5, 1952, and had slowed to 40 mph through Athena when a car began following them. Linke slowed to about 20 mph to make a turn in the center of the business district and then gradually increased his speed as he headed out of town. About two miles outside of Athena Linke and his passenger, K. Wattsburg, heard two “thumps” at the rear of the car, and Linke pulled over to the side of the road to check out what may have happened to the car.
When Linke pulled over, the car following them stopped in the middle of the road and a man in bib overalls got out carrying a flashlight and a revolver, and told Linke to get out of the car. Thinking that either the Gestapo had followed him from Germany, or he was going to be the victim of a holdup, Linke decided to stayed put.
Eventually the man got Linke out of his car, put him in handcuffs and told him he was going to put him in prison. The man then demanded Linke pay him $5 for speeding through Athena. When Linke said he didn’t have the money the man asked for his wristwatch, but Linke said he needed the watch for his job. Linke finally put up his 35-mm camera as a guarantee, and the man wrote out a ticket, signed it “Huffman” and told Linke to appear before Athena City Judge Chet Dugger later that morning.
Neither Linke nor his passenger reported hearing a siren before they were stopped by Huffman. And a third Harris employee, who was following the officer’s car, said that while he saw Huffman fire two shots at Linke’s car, no siren or red light was ever used by the officer.
When Linke appeared before Judge Dugger, he was told he was charged with “passing without clearance, refusal to stop, and speeding.” The judge then typed out a “confession” and told Linke to sign it, after which he told him he would have to pay a $25 fine for speeding. When Linke asked why he had to pay the judge $25 when the officer only asked for $5, the judge didn’t answer. Linke said he was never asked to plead to the charges, nor was he offered the chance to talk to an attorney.
Linke left his camera with the judge as bail and sought out attorney William E. Hanzen, who investigated the incident. Officer Huffman claimed to followed protocol to the letter and claimed he used his siren before firing two warning shots at Linke’s car. Judge Dugger called the whole incident “regrettable,” saying he had also honored all the rights to which Linke was entitled during the brief trial. Because Linke had signed the “confession,” he had no recourse against either man.
Regardless of his alleged treatment at the hands of the law, Linke said he liked the U.S. and planned to apply for citizenship as soon as he had studied enough to pass the test.