West Linn places police chief on leave during investigation

Clackamas County

West Linn City Council voted to conduct an independent investigation into the city's handling of Michael Fesser's tort claim

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The West Linn police chief has been placed on administrative leave while an independent investigator looks into the city’s response to Michael Fesser’s civil rights accusations. 

Fesser was the victim of a conspiracy involving former West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus and Fesser’s employer. Timeus and Fesser’s boss at A&B Towing made up allegations that Fesser stole from the company. The false accusation led to Fesser’s arrest and detainment by Portland police officers.

Fesser filed a federal lawsuit in 2017 against the City of West Linn. The city agreed in February to settle the suit but said the decision “is not an admission of liability.” Also last month, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a federal civil rights investigation into the allegations of criminal wrongdoing by West Linn police.

The West Linn City Council voted unanimously last week to start its own independent investigation into how the city handled Fesser’s tort claim. An outside investigator with no ties to West Linn will be hired to examine the claim against the city from the date it was received through the date a settlement was reached with the city’s insurance carrier.

Interim City Manager John Williams placed Police Chief Terry Kruger on paid administrative leave for the extent of the investigation. The City of West Linn said the decision was made “to further ensure a complete, fair, and impartial investigation.”

The city’s statement reads, in part:

“Administrative leave ensures that all parties have the opportunity to clearly and completely answer questions and explain their actions. It is not a determination of wrongdoing on the part of Chief Kruger or anyone else. Any such determination can only be made after the investigation is complete.”

City officials said they plan to complete the probe as quickly as possible amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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