A man who used offensive language with off-duty Janesville police officers was sentenced to two years’ probation Wednesday in Rock County Court.
A jury Nov. 18 found Aaron M. Oleston guilty of five counts of disorderly conduct.
Oleston, 40, of 3053 Palmer Drive, No. 17, Janesville, claimed he was exercising his free-speech rights and that he was protesting police treatment of the homeless and waste of tax dollars.
In court Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Jerry Urbik called for three years probation, to include 60 days in jail.
Urbik also recommended Oleston not come within 1,000 feet of a police officer or department except to report a crime while on probation and that his video cameras be confiscated.
Urbik said Oleston has a record, including battery, resisting an officer and possessing marijuana, all from the 1990s and 2000s.
Oleston’s free-speech arguments hold no water because he wasn’t protesting anything in the 2018 incidents; he was just calling the officers “Nazis” and asking if they beat their wives, Urbik said.
“He was clearly there only to express his irrational hatred of police officers,” Urbik said.
Defense attorney James Fitzgerald said Oleston didn’t threaten or harm anyone, but “it certainly was a misguided attempt—in his mind—at exercising his First Amendment rights.”
Oleston is needed by his children and wife, and he is beginning to understand that he is not the one who decides where to draw the line, Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald recommended 30 days in jail.
Oleston repeated that his intent was just a peaceful protest, and he said all he wants to do is return to counseling. While the case was pending, he was forbidden from being within 1,000 feet of the police department, and he was worried that his appointments were in a building within that radius.
Oleston said if the officers had told him his comments disturbed them, he would have gotten on his bicycle and gone home.
“I’m probably going to have to move after this,” Oleston continued. “I feel like the whole city is against me.”
Judge John Wood said none of the videos Oleston recorded indicate any kind of protest, but he said people have a constitutional right to videotape officers on the job.
Oleston crossed the line with his inappropriate language, directed at off-duty officers leaving the police department, trying to provoke a response, Wood said.
“They have a constitutional right to be left alone,” Wood said.
Wood decided Oleston will not go to jail at all, saying the crime was not the worst he has seen.
Wood also declined to ban Oleston from being near law enforcement, saying that if it becomes a problem, his probation agent could impose a restriction.
Wood did not confiscate Oleston’s cameras, noting a constitutional right to videotape.
Wood also dismissed a related charge, bail jumping for being near and videotaping officers inside the Rock County Courthouse.
Oleston had been ordered not to be within 1,000 feet of officers while his case was pending, but Wood noted Oleston also was required to be at the courthouse for a hearing.