West Linn Police Chief Terry Kruger was fired Friday, the city announced in a statement.
“I believe that new leadership within the West Linn Police Department will help the community move forward,” City Manager Jerry Gabrielatos said in a statement. “This is a step toward restoring confidence in the West Linn Police Department.”
The Portland suburb will begin a search for a permanent replacement, and Acting Chief Peter Mahuna will continue in his current role during that search. As part of Kruger’s firing, he will receive three months of severance pay.
Kruger, a former Portland Police officer, was hired as West Linn’s chief in 2018. In April, he was placed on leave following a $600,000 settlement stemming from a racially motivated arrest in 2017 by Portland police officers, who were acting at the direction of West Linn officers. The settlement was first reported by the Oregonian/OregonLive in February.
The settlement stems from the wrongful surveillance of Michael Fesser, a Black man, who police arrested without probable cause.
The surveillance began after Fesser reported racial harassment to his boss, Eric Benson, the owner of Southeast Portland’s A&B Towing. Rather than address the concerns, Benson asked former West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus — a friend — to investigate allegations Fesser was stealing from the company.
Kruger is also believed to have had a friendship with Benson.
The West Linn police surveilled Fesser and ultimately arrested him Feb. 25, 2017, with the assistance of five Portland police officers, which lead to a civil lawsuit and the settlement. The surveillance of Fesser was led by West Linn Stg. Tony Reeves, who was fired in June after the Clackamas County District Attorney’s office released an investigation into the incident. It found that Reeves engaged in misconduct and that the district attorney’s office would no longer call Reeves as a witness during criminal trials. The office recommended the state revoke the police certifications for both Reeves and Timeus.
After news of the settlement, the Oregon’s U.S. Attorney’s Office announced it was investigating the events for criminal wrongdoing. That investigation remains ongoing.