PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — 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 the civil rights of Michael Fesser.
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.
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, Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote said the District Attorney’s Office will conduct a review of the case. Multnomah County DA Rod Underhill also called for an investigation.
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.
Portland city commissioners and Mayor Ted Wheeler also responded to the incident with a statement on Thursday:
“Everyone in our community, whether you live here, work here, or are just visiting, should feel like you will be treated fairly under the law. What we know is that not every member of our community experiences that. This fear is validated when law enforcement officials misuse their power against a member of our community.
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.
Portland Police Chief Jami Resch has our support as she has called for an Internal Affairs investigation to determine whether any Portland Police Bureau policy was violated. Further, we welcome Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote’s investigation to determine to what extent Portland resources, including PPB and Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, were used under false pretexts. We also support the Governor’s order of an investigation into DPSST employees – the entire state suffers if those individuals training our officers engage in this type of conduct. Commissioner Eudaly, as Transportation Commissioner, has already directed PBOT to terminate its contract with A&B Towing effective immediately. And, we join our members of Congress in looking to US Attorney Bill Williams to investigate whether there were any federal civil rights violations. It is critical that we have a full accounting of where this misconduct existed so that we can take swift action to address it.”