A West Linn police detective committed misconduct and withheld evidence during an investigation that led to the racially motivated arrest of a black man in Portland, according to an investigation released Friday.
The investigation, conducted by the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office, looked at whether officers suppressed evidence or acted in bad faith.
It found former West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus and Sgt. Tony Reeves “committed misconduct,” at times acting together.
The investigation stems from the 2017 arrest of Michael Fesser, who was put under surveillance by West Linn police officers after reporting racial harassment to his boss, Eric Benson, the owner of Southeast Portland’s A&B Towing.
Rather than address the concerns, Benson asked Timeus, his friend, to investigate allegations that Fesser was stealing from the company.
West Linn Police officers followed Fesser and ultimately arrested him without probable cause on Feb. 25, 2017, with the assistance of five Portland Police Bureau officers.
Fesser sued West Linn and received a $600,000 settlement, which was first reported by the Oregonian/OregonLive, and which set off a firestorm of response from public officials.
“Through the course of this review, it was determined this investigation was replete with inappropriate and offensive investigative tactics, and lacked transparency, honesty and any sense of fair play,” the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office report states.
The investigation found Reeves withheld evidence and was complicit in an illegal recording. It also found Timeus disclosed possible attorney-client information.
Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote said his office won’t call Reeves as a witness in future cases and will review past cases where he testified.
“That will result in cases he has submitted to this office being dismissed or compromised,” Foote wrote in his cover letter to the city’s acting police chief. “Unfortunately, that will negatively impact the citizens of West Linn and victims in these cases.”
The DA’s office is reviewing 40 active criminal cases where Reeves was a witness and will review another 500 already adjudicated cases.
“Any case that cannot move forward without his testimony will be dismissed,” said Acting West Linn Police Chief Peter Mahuna. “We have a long way to go in earning back the confidence and public trust we’ve lost.”
Foote recommend the state revoke both Reeves and Timeus’ police certifications.
Oregon’s U.S. Attorney’s Office is conducting a separate criminal investigation.