West Linn Police Department Chief Jami Resch – in an “effort to be transparent” – has released a 2017 police report concerning a Portland citizen named Michael Fesser. The report should have been turned over to Fesser’s attorney, Paul Buchanan, when he subpoenaed all of Fesser’s records. But neither Buchanan nor Fesser ever saw the report.
The report was written by a Portland police gang enforcement officer. He stated that Lieutenant Stradley from the West Linn Police Department told him he should be watchful because Fesser had “a history of violence.”
The report stated that there was a warrant for Fesser’s arrest in a large theft case. Fesser had already been arrested for threatening to assault his former boss at A&B Towing, Eric Benson. Fesser also made threats against Benson’s employees and was planning to damage his business.
Fast forward to 2020: Lieutenant Stradley is now retired. The West Linn Police Department has admitted that nothing in the report was true. Michael Fesser never made any threats. There was no warrant and no indictment. The “large theft case” was made up. There was only one previous arrest, and it had been dropped in 1997.
The police department has paid Michael Fesser $600,000 to settle a racial discrimination and unlawful arrest suit. During the civil court case, Lieutenant Stradley testified that they had no knowledge of any threats Fesser had made. A&B Towing had already paid Fesser $415,000 to settle a separate racial discrimination and retaliation suit.
The problems began when Fesser went to his boss at A&B Towing to report that he thought he was the victim of racial discrimination. His boss was afraid of a lawsuit, and he asked Police Chief Terry Timeus for help. (Chief Timeus is now retired.)
The story is an effective reminder of the importance of police reports. They need to be accurate, and officers need to carefully follow the procedures for dealing with them.