Wednesday, July 15, 2020
July 15, 2020

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Sergeant showed ‘pattern of deceit’ in black man’s arrest

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PORTLAND — West Linn Police Sgt. Tony Reeves, who was the lead investigator in the wrongful arrest of a black man in Portland, will never again be called to testify in any county criminal court case and should have his police certification revoked, Clackamas County’s district attorney ruled.

The decision Friday came after the District Attorney’s Office investigated the unfounded West Linn police arrest of Michael Fesser in 2017, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

It is the first inquiry finished of local, state and federal investigations launched after the newspaper reported in February that the city of West Linn paid $600,000 to Fesser to settle his civil rights suit against its police.

The DA’s investigation found that Reeves colluded with then-Chief Terry Timeus to pursue an unsupported arrest of Fesser for a personal friend of the police chief’s. The friend was Fesser’s employer at the time.

The investigation also found that Reeves withheld key evidence, engaged in an illegal recording of Fesser, deleted racist and vulgar text messages he received from Fesser’s boss on his cellphone and disclosed Fesser’s confidential attorney-client information to Fesser’s boss.

West Linn police targeted Fesser, using ” inappropriate and offensive investigative tactics, and lacked transparency, honesty and any sense of fair play,” said the district attorney’s 42-page report obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive.

The report, signed by Chief Deputy District Attorney Chris Owen and two senior deputy district attorneys, described a “troubling pattern of deceit by omission” in an attempt to “mislead” and arrest Fesser for alleged theft as a favor to the chief’s friend — Eric Benson, the owner of A&B Towing Co. in Portland.

Theft charges against Fesser ultimately were dropped, and Benson and his company paid $415,000 to Fesser to settle a separate discrimination and retaliation suit.

Reeves has been on paid administrative leave since Feb. 12.

Timeus had Reeves initiate the 2017 investigation into Fesser. Timeus retired Nov. 1, 2017, but his police certification was never revoked, despite questionable conduct throughout his career. The district attorney is now recommending that Timeus also lose his certification.

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