The mayor of West Linn apologized Tuesday, and endorsed investigations and improvements in response to the unjustified surveillance and arrest of a black man under the direction of a former police chief.
Mayor Russ Axelrod embraced diversity and inclusion and spoke against discrimination in a prepared statement to the City Council.
"As mayor of West Linn, I must apologize for the described conduct that has stained our community,"Axelrod told his colleagues and a large crowd. "Such actions do not reflect West Linn and our neighboring cities, and we will be vigilant to make sure that such conduct never occurs in the future ...
"In order to heal, we must understand what happened, be fully transparent with our community about what we learn, and take steps to hold those within city government accountable, including ourselves."
The Oregonian/OregonLive first reported that West Linn had agreed to a $600,000 settlement with Michael Fesser. West Linn police officers conducted surveillance of Fesser and arrested him without probable cause after he reported racial harassment to his boss at Portland's A&B Towing.
Rather than address the concerns, Fesser's employer asked his friend, former West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus, to investigate allegations that Fesser was stealing from the company. Portland police officers assisted in the arrest.
Several police leaders have left since the incident came to light and others are on paid leave. Several audience members called for stronger consequences Tuesday.
The district attorneys in Clackamas and Multnomah counties and the state’s public safety standards department are among the authorities investigating. In his statement Tuesday, Axelrod said he wants a city investigation and that city leaders are working with the NAACP for help responding. He also joined a growing chorus of elected officials calling for a federal investigation.