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Portland, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — New court filings in the case against former Scappoose police officer Troy Gainer have shed more light on the misconduct and drug charges he faces.
Gainer, a 17-year employee of the Scappoose Police Department, was indicted in June on 13 criminal counts, including nine charges of official misconduct. He has since left the department.
According to the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office, a property technician was the first to raise concerns about Gainer’s behavior. Under the federal prescription take-back program, controlled substances can be brought to places like the sheriff’s office and are then taken to an incinerator in Brooks.
Starting in December 2019, Gainer began offering to take the Sheriff’s Office take-back drugs, court documents state. Property technician Terri Etter told investigators that Gainer picked up drugs eight times in as many months, despite the fact that the office typically disposed of take-back drugs once every two to four years.
Etter told Sheriff Brian Pixley about her concerns with Gainer’s frequent pickups and repeated violations of the strict regulations on drug take-back procedures.
Pixley requested a criminal investigation into Gainer’s conduct and became more concerned “after personally observing the defendant sweating on a cold day and observing a pill fall out of the defendant’s pocket when he pulled out a handkerchief,” court documents state.
Detectives with the Forest Grove Police Department investigated and recommended charges of official misconduct, delivery of oxycodone by solicitation and possession of oxycodone, a filing from the district attorney stated.
Forest Grove detectives found other law enforcement personnel who had concerns about Gainer’s behavior.
Tia Sharp, the St. Helens police department’s property technician, “grew uncomfortable with Gainer’s enthusiasm for the drug take-back program.”
“At one point, rather than having to deal with Gainer’s pressure to provide him with take-back drugs, Sharp gave Gainer an empty box. Gainer believed that the box contained take-back drugs, but when he opened it, he saw that Sharp placed a piece of paper inside with a middle finger drawn on it,” court documents stated.
Scappoose police told Forest Grove investigators that Gainer had been caught on surveillance video “entering and exiting the property room after midnight on his day off, and in a separate instance removing controlled substance evidence that had been seized in the course of an ongoing criminal investigation only two days prior,” according to an Oct. 22 filing.
The first incident in the Scappoose property room allegedly took place on Oct. 15, 2020, while the second took place on Jan. 19. It isn’t clear from court documents if any personnel or criminal investigation took place when either incident was discovered.
Gainer’s attorney, Daniel Thenell, filed a subpoena for documents from Scappoose, but the city pushed back, arguing that the requested documents were not relevant to Gainer’s case.
Thenell also represents the Scappoose Police Officers Guild and has been involved in the no-confidence vote the union issued against then-Chief Norm Miller.
The requested documents include Gainer’s personnel file and communications between city representatives and investigators concerning Gainer, as well as city employee exit interviews for the past 10 years and a performance evaluation of Miller.
“This filing appears to be yet another attempt to gather information Defendant believes to be relevant — not to a criminal proceeding — but to various personnel matters pending before the city, in which Defendant has an interest,” an attorney for Scappoose wrote.
In a response, Thenell wrote that Gainer “intends to offer a defense based on his training and supervision with respect to the drug take-back program.”
“Concurrently with this case, there have been a significant quantity of complaints leveled at Chief Miller for his lack of leadership and oversight of the department. The state’s evidence tends to indicate Defendant assumed the drug take-back program duties directly from Chief Miller; therefore, the chief’s performance, supervision and training of Defendants and others is material and relevant to Defendant’s case,” Thenell continued.
In earlier filings, Thenell argued that the district attorney’s indictment was “constitutionally defective,” in part because the charges were too vague.
Gainer “cannot adequately defend his charges when he is given over a two-year period in which he allegedly committed these crimes,” Thenell said.
Of the 13 charges Gainer faces, 10 allege a single incident occurred sometime in a span of more than a year.
“This is so vague as to deprive the Defendant of any meaningful way to defend himself,” Thenell wrote.