The Clackamas and Multnomah County district attorneys offices said Wednesday they’re reviewing the actions taken by certain officers from the West Linn and Portland police departments. The decisions follow reporting by the Oregonian/OregonLive that detailed the rogue and racially-motivated surveillance and arrest by officers of a black Portland man.
West Linn officials announced Wednesday they were placing an officer involved in the arrest, Sgt. Tony Reeves, on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Portland Police Chief Jami Resch also said that the Professional Standards Division will be investigating the role their officers played in the unfounded arrest.
The announcements come after the Oregonian/OregonLive detailed the 2017 surveillance and arrest of 48-year-old Portland man Michael Fesser.
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 his friend, former West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus, to investigate allegations that Fesser was stealing from the company.
The West Linn police surveilled Fesser and ultimately arrested him on Feb. 25, 2017, with the assistance of five Portland police officers, without probable cause, according to the Oregonian/OregonLive. Fesser sued West Linn and received a $600,000 settlement.
The allegations raised in the civil lawsuit are now being investigated for criminal wrongdoing.
In a two-sentence letter to West Linn Police Chief Terry Kruger, Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote said they’re reviewing the case for any possible criminal activity or Brady violations.
In a statement, Multnomah County District Attorney spokesman Brent Weisberg expressed concerns raised in Fesser’s case.
“We have initiated a full review of this case,” Weisberg said. “This examination will be exhaustive. We will be looking at what information law enforcement provided us when they submitted the case for criminal consideration, what information was learned at grand jury, and what information we’ve learned since.”
Weisberg declined to comment on the specific facts or the scope of the investigation.
The Portland Police Bureau released the police report Wednesday detailing Fesser’s arrest “in an effort to be transparent.” According to the report, the Portland police were told by West Linn police that they had probable cause to arrest Fesser. They initiated a traffic stop and placed him into custody.
City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who oversees Portland’s Bureau of Transportation, said Wednesday that she’s ending the city’s contract with A&B Towing.
“I was sicked by the story of Portland resident, Michael Fesser, who was the victim of racially motivated harassment, surveillance and arrest by former West Linn Police Chief in collusion with Mr. Fesser’s employer,” Eudaly wrote in a statement. “I have directed the bureau to sever the contract immediately.”
Current West Linn Police Chief Terry Kruger noted in a release that the arrest took place three years ago and that only one of the officers involved remains on the force.
“The former Chief, Captain and Lieutenant involved, no longer work here. Three Sergeants, one Detective and thirteen Officers have also left service from the City of West Linn in that same timeframe,” Kruger wrote in a release Wednesday. “All in a department of 30 sworn personnel.”
Kruger said they plan to fully cooperate with the investigation.