West Linn group demands accountability on Fesser arrest

Protests

WEST LINN, Ore (KOIN) — Four West Linn Police officers arrested Michael Fesser, a Black man from Portland in 2017 on bogus theft charges as a favor to a friend of then-police chief Terry Timeus, who happened to be Fesser’s boss.

Three years later, community members are still marching to hold West Linn Police accountable. Although Fesser won a $600,000 settlement in his racial discrimination lawsuit against the agency, some say the settlement is not enough.

The West Linn Community for Police Reform first formed in February 2020 in response to “racism, illegal surveillance and false arrest” of Fesser. They organized a march in West Linn Sunday demanding accountability.

Last week, the Portland Independent Police Review Office found that West Linn Police had enlisted Portland Police’s gang enforcement team to arrest Fesser — without any knowledge or evidence that Fesser was even linked to a gang.

In February, the recently resigned US Attorney for Oregon, Billy Williams, decided not to press criminal charges against any of the officer in the case.

On Sunday, protesters marched from the 10th Street Entrance of I-205 to the West Linn Police Department, demanding full accountability.

“If you have a first-time officer you’re not going to fire them, but If they show a continuous pattern, then the disciplinary status increases and gets worse, but they should be disciplined 100 percent,” said West Linn resident Robert Ward.

West Linn Police did conduct its own investigation into the case, but an independent review back in December labeled it as being “riddled with gaps.”

The group is asking the Oregon Department of Safety Standards and Training to fire Michael Stradley from his position as a police trainer. Stradley was the one who enlisted Portland’s gang enforcement officers.

They are also asking for the police certification of several of the involved officers to be stripped away, something that was already recommended by the Clackamas County District Attorney.

In addition, the group wants to see a potential decertification of former WLPD Chief Terry Kruger as well as former Interim Chief Neal Hennelly.

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