DA to investigate West Linn cops handling of wrongful arrest

Clackamas County

West Linn agreed to pay Michael Fesser $600,000

west linn police dept_285760

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote says the District Attorney’s Office will conduct a review of the wrongful arrest case of Portland resident Michael Fesser by West Linn police.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the county prosecutor’s office will look for any crimes committed in the county and also will determine if credibility concerns raised in the case about officers should trigger a so-called Brady notice, an obligation under the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brady v. Maryland that requires prosecutors to disclose to defense lawyers any material that could impeach the credibility of a government witness.

West Linn recently agreed to pay Fesser $600,000 to settle his related federal civil lawsuit.

Michael Fesser was awarded $600,000 after being wrongfully arrested by the West Linn police, February 11, 2020 (KOIN)

A lawsuit originally filed in 2017 accuses former West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus of ordering two sergeants to investigate and build a case against the 48-year-old Fesser. The lawsuit claimed Timeus was acting on behalf of a personal friend who owned a Portland towing company where Fesser was employed. That business owner allegedly told Timeus he was worried Fesser might sue him for racial discrimination so Timeus was having his officers build a case that Fesser was stealing from the company.

The involved officers eventually arrested Fesser and detained him without probable cause, the lawsuit alleged.

On Wednesday, current West Linn Police Chief Terry Kruger released the following statement:

“As anyone would expect based on the articles published over the past couple of days, many are deeply troubled and angered. I too feel the full weight of this. As the incoming Chief, I want to assure you that the current West Linn Police Department is composed of honorable, ethical and dedicated servants of this community who serve with integrity. I would like to provide you with perspective that may assist in lessening some of your heartfelt outrage at the information you have read.

In the three years that have transpired since the investigation into the business dealings of Mr. Michael Fesser, much at this Police Department has changed. The former Chief, Captain and Lieutenant involved, no longer work here. Three Sergeants, one Detective and thirteen Officers have also left service from the City of West Linn in that same timeframe; all in a department of 30 sworn personnel. Prior to my arrival, Tony Reeves was promoted to sergeant and two new officers were hired by former Captain Neil Hennelly in his capacity as the Acting Chief of Police.  

In the twenty months that I have been the Chief, I have promoted two new Captains, two Sergeants and two Detectives, along with the hiring of six new Police Officers, a new Evidence Technician and Community Service Officer. Additionally, two Police Officer candidates have accepted job offers and are starting employment March 2nd. I have also implemented new and additional training department wide, focusing on implicit bias, diversity and procedural justice. The officers here are on a strong path of ethical policing and fair and equitable service to all members of the public.

The Clackamas County District Attorney’s office announced today, a full investigation into the actions from three years ago as concern Mr. Fesser and the West Linn Police Department. In light of the recently released transcripts produced through depositions taken after our internal disciplinary investigation was completed, we welcome this investigation with full cooperation and acceptance. Today I placed Sergeant Tony Reeves (the only remaining member of the West Linn Police Department associated with the Fesser case) on paid administrative leave, pending the final outcome of Clackamas County District Attorney’s investigation.”

KOIN 6 News contributed to this report.

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