Report exonerates Portland Police for role in bogus arrest

Civic Affairs

Civilian oversight agency releases its recommendations on Portland Police involvement in 2017 incident

Michael Fesser in an interview with KOIN 6 News on Feb. 11, 2020. (KOIN)

The Portland Tribune and Pamplin Media Group’s papers are a KOIN 6 News media partner

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — After investigating seven Portland Police Bureau officers for their involvement in the 2017 arrest of Michael Fesser, the Independent Police Review has recommended the exoneration of six officers and to not sustain potential charges of misconduct against the other.

IPR, the civilian oversight agency for the city of Portland, found that the officers’ conduct was “consistent with Portland Police practices regarding assisting other agencies.”

Portland police assisted WLPD in the 2017 racially-motivated arrest of Fesser. West Linn police orchestrated the investigation and arrest of Fesser as a favor to a friend of then police-chief Terry Timeus, who happened to be Fesser’s boss.

The boss, Eric Benson, feared Fesser would sue him over the racial harassment he faced working at Benson’s company, A&B Towing.

Fesser eventually sued the city of West Linn for the false arrest and was awarded $600,000 in settlement money last year. News of the settlement sparked outrage and prompted several investigations into the matter, including from the Clackamas and Multnomah County district attorneys, the Department of Justice and this one by IPR.

In his investigation of West Linn officers, Clackamas County DA John Foote found “deeply disturbing” conduct by WLPD in its arrest of Fesser. The DOJ, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon and the FBI recently concluded its investigation of West Linn police in the Fesser arrest and “could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that officers involved in Mr. Fesser’s arrest willfully violated Mr. Fesser’s civil rights or federal public corruption statutes.”

West Linn has since fired the lead detective who arrested Fesser, Sgt. Tony Reeves, and Police Chief Terry Kruger, who took over the department the day Fesser filed his tort claim with the city.

“Through the course of this investigation, we identified broader issues with these practices and recommend that the Police Bureau develop a policy that requires more due diligence for evaluating requests for assistance from other law enforcement agencies to avoid becoming complicit in flawed investigations and possible misconduct by other agencies,” a press release from IPR stated.

The PPB officers investigated in this review were Lt. James Dakin, Sgt. Kenneth Duilio, Patrick Murphy, Kameron Fender, Jerry Ables, John Billard and Charles Asheim.

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