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Rogue investigation by Oregon police leads to $600K settlement

PORTLAND, Ore. — Former West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus had his officers initiate an unwarranted, racially motivated surveillance and arrest of a black Portland man as a favor to the chief’s fishing buddy. The case had no ties to West Linn.

The city recently negotiated to pay $600,000 to the target of the rogue investigation, Michael Fesser, 48, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

It ends a federal lawsuit that Fesser filed in 2018.

“This case vividly illustrates a ready willingness on the part of the West Linn police to abuse the enormous power they have been given, and a casual, jocular, old-boy-style racism of the kind that we Oregonians tend to want to associate with the Deep South rather than our own institutions,” Fesser’s lawyer Paul Buchanan said.

Attorney Andrew Campbell, who represented West Linn in court, did not respond to a newspaper request for comment.

West Linn Police said in a statement Tuesday that when the allegations were reported, an internal investigation was done and that swift and appropriate disciplinary personnel action was taken. “As we move forward, the West Linn Police Department strives to learn from both our past mistakes and our successes,” the statement said. The settlement is not admission of liability, according to the statement.

The bold misdeeds by West Linn police included making a surreptitious audio recording of Fesser at work without a warrant or court order, arresting him without probable cause with the help of Portland police and seizing his cash, cellphone and documents without a search warrant, court records show.

The case file includes racist and crude text messages between West Linn police and Fesser’s boss at the time.

Fesser said he took legal action so this doesn’t happen to another black man.

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