‘Optics of Fesser case difficult to believe’

Clackamas County

Calls for a federal investigation continue to grow

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The case of Michael Fesser — wrongly arrested in a racially-motivated police probe — continues to spark outrage and calls for a federal investigation.

“Just the optics of the story itself are very difficult to believe that in 2020 we are still dealing with stuff like this,” Pastor J. W. Matt Hennessee said Friday. The senior pastor at Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church held a meeting with Interfaith and police representatives about the case.

Pastor Hennessee said this incident “sets back the trust we have built” and described his reaction to it as ugly and unbelievable.

“We know him in this community,” the pastor said. “He is a wonderful guy.”

It’s clear, Hennessee said, more training and education is needed.

J.W. Matt Hennessee, Pastor at Vancouver Ave First Baptist. February 14, 2020 (KOIN)

Pressure continues to grow for a federal investigation into the wrongful arrest of Michael Fesser, an African-American man in Portland by the West Linn police under the direction of its former chief.

Both of Oregon’s US senators and Rep. Earl Blumenauer asked the US Attorney’s Office of Oregon to look into whether the West Linn Police Department violated Fesser’s civil rights.

Fesser was awarded $600,000 to settle a federal lawsuit he brought over a wrongful arrest. He filed the lawsuit in 2017 and accused former West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus of ordering two sergeants to investigate and build a case against the 48-year-old Fesser.

Court documents said Fesser’s boss contacted Timeus — a friend of his — and made up allegations Fesser was stealing from the company. West Linn police issued a warrant for his arrest, and Fesser was arrested in Portland.

The case was later dropped.

In a statement Thursday, Mayor Ted Wheeler and the Portland City Council said, in part:

“We are appalled by the alleged abuses of power by West Linn’s former Police Chief Terry Timeus and Detective Tony Reeves. We are particularly distressed by the fact that West Linn involved the Portland Police Bureau in this incident through what appeared to be a routine request for assistance in effecting an arrest. This type of misconduct cannot be tolerated anywhere. It will not be tolerated in Portland. As a Council, we stand unified.”

In their letter to US Attorney Billy Williams, Wyden, Merkley and Blumenauer noted that Oregon Gov. Kate Brown as well as the district attorneys in Clackamas and Multnomah counties have called for investigations at the state and county levels.

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