The Portland City Council this afternoon joined the chorus of voices calling for further investigation of a 2017 incident in which then West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus got the Portland Police Bureau to assist in the trumped-up arrest of Michael Fesser.
As determined in a federal lawsuit filed against West Linn, the arrest came was a favor to Fesser's employer, A & B Towing owner Eric Benson, who was a friend of Timeus. (Fesser settled lawsuits against his former employer and West Linn for more than $1 million.)
After Oregonian reporter Maxine Bernstein reported earlier this week how the two police agencies teamed up to deprive Fesser of his civil rights, a series of public officials including Gov. Kate Brown, Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote and Oregon's two U.S. senators have demanded further investigation of the trumped-up arrest and how police resources were used in a private dispute.
This afternoon, Portland's four city commissioners—Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioners Chloe Eudaly, Amanda Fritz and Jo Ann Hardesty—joined that call.
Here is the statement the jointly issued this afternoon:
"We are appalled by the alleged abuses of power by West Linn's former Police Chief Terry Timeus and Detective Tony Reeves. We are particularly distressed by the fact that West Linn involved the Portland Police Bureau in this incident through what appeared to be a routine request for assistance in effecting an arrest. This type of misconduct cannot be tolerated anywhere. It will not be tolerated in Portland. As a Council, we stand unified," they said.
"Portland Police Chief Jami Resch has our support as she has called for an Internal Affairs investigation to determine whether any Portland Police Bureau policy was violated. Further, we welcome Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote's investigation to determine to what extent Portland resources, including PPB and Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, were used under false pretexts. We also support the Governor's order of an investigation into DPSST employees – the entire state suffers if those individuals training our officers engage in this type of conduct. Commissioner Eudaly, as Transportation Commissioner, has already directed PBOT to terminate its contract with A&B Towing effective immediately. And, we join our members of Congress in looking to US Attorney Bill Williams to investigate whether there were any federal civil rights violations."
The Portland Police Bureau today also issued a statement providing additional context to a brief release of information from Feb. 12.
In the first instance, PPB merely released copies of police reports showing that they'd arrested Fesser in 2017 at the request of West Linn. Those reports provided little in the way of an explanation as to why they'd made the arrest or whether or not it met the bureau's guidelines for assisting other law enforcement agencies, i.e., that there was probable cause to detain Fesser.
Late this afternoon, PPB provided further explanation—and also made an embarrassing admission.
* Officers in the State of Oregon swear an oath, which includes being truthful and upholding the laws. Officers rely upon what other officers tell them to be truthful and ethical, such as when probable cause is relayed. There are processes in place internally and externally to discipline, terminate and/or decertify sworn members who are untruthful,
* On November 10, 2017, a West Linn Lieutenant contacted a Portland Police Officer regarding an on-going West Linn investigation and represented that there were safety concerns about Mr. Fesser, who had an outstanding felony warrant from Multnomah County related to their investigation.
Portland officers then arrested Fesser but, as it turns out, PPB did not turn over all reports to Fesser's attorney, Andrew Campbell, when Campbell subpoenaed the bureau in civil cases.
"It was brought to our attention that one of those documents had not been released to the attorney of the subject involved in this case before pursuant to a subpoena. PPB strives to accurately fulfill and respond to all subpoena and public records requests and we regret this inadvertent error. We have reached out to the involved party to acknowledge the error," the bureau said.
An internal affairs investigation into the circumstances of Fesser's arrest is pending, PPB says, but no officers have been placed on leave.