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PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — Former Forest Grove police officer Brad Schuetz was found not guilty Friday, July 15, of first-degree official misconduct.
The charges stemmed from early on the morning of Oct. 31, 2020, when Schuetz gave fellow officer Steven Teets a ride home after Teets, according to police records, drunkenly pounded on the door of a Forest Grove residence flying a “Black Lives Matter” flag and yelled at the residents to come out and fight him, prompting the family to call 9-1-1.
The incident was investigated by the Beaverton Police Department, and a grand jury indicted both Schuetz and Teets in May 2021.
Teets is scheduled to go on trial for a pair of second-degree misdemeanors — criminal misconduct and disorderly conduct — starting Wednesday, July 20.
Schuetz’s verdict was determined in a bench trial, in which the defense agrees to allow a judge, rather than a jury, to decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
In Schuetz’s case, Washington County Circuit Judge Brandon Thompson ruled the latter.
“I find him not guilty because I do not believe his actions were intended to benefit (Teets),” Thompson said Friday afternoon, explaining his decision. He did not use Teets’ name in his statement.
Thompson added, “I think, and I believe the defendant in this case knows, he made some very poor decisions, but his intention to this court was very clear. It was not to not follow policy — it was to have someone else do the work the policy dictated because he was afraid of impacting the investigation. That’s what he understood. That’s not criminal under the statute, and I do not believe in any way, based on the evidence that was provided, he intended to confer any benefit on the officer that is not being named in this courtroom.”
Schuetz was fired from the Forest Grove Police Department in March.
If he had been found guilty, he faced up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $6,250, or both.
On Wednesday morning, Schuetz and his defense attorney, Steven Myers, waived their right to a jury trial so that Thompson would hear the evidence and make the decision.
Myers told Pamplin Media Group that he had tried to avoid a trial, but the Washington County District Attorney’s Office “had their heels in the sand.”
Myers added, “They were going to prosecute this case. … I tried to get them to see he didn’t commit a crime. He committed some policy violations.”
Over three days, Myers successfully argued that Schuetz’s superior, Sgt. Jeremy Lazenby — who left the Forest Grove Police Department last summer — could have ordered Teets arrested, but he provided no such order. The state did not subpoena Lazenby.
“Brad took him home. It was his only place to go to. The jail wouldn’t take him. He knew it was a safe place. It was only four blocks away. That’s a safe place,” Myers said. “I’ve been representing police for 30 years now — probably upwards of 300 cases, a lot of them use-of-force — and I’ve never seen a case like this where there was absolutely no evidence he tried to benefit (Teets).”
Both Schuetz and Washington County Deputy District Attorney Sara Loebner, who led the prosecution, declined to comment following the decision.
Schuetz has been subpoenaed for Teets’ trial and could appear as a witness.