Black man receives $ 600K payout after he was wrongly arrested after his boss buddy agent asked him to detain him
A black man who was the subject of illegal surveillance and a fake arrest by the police in Oregon in 2017 at the request of his employer, received a payment of $ 600,000 for the emotional stress caused.
Michael Fesser, 48, from Portland, Oregon, sued the city of West Linn and several members of the police in 2018 for being illegally inspected by the city police after he filed a complaint about racial discrimination with his employer. in February 2017.
After receiving the complaint, his boss Eric Benson asked his fishing buddy, former police chief of West Linn Terry Timeus, to initiate racially motivated surveillance of Fesser that led to his false arrest.
Fesser indicted for false arrest, malicious prosecution, defamation and privacy violation in the summer of 2018, received $ 600,000 in damages from West Linn on Tuesday in what is said to be the largest payout for an illegal arrest in the state.
Michael Fesser, 48, pictured, was falsely arrested in February 2017 after his boss asked the police chief to investigate fake theft claims because Fesser filed a complaint about racial discrimination over his workplace – he received $ 600,000 today
A & B Towing company owner Eric Benson, in the photo, asked his fishing buddy, former West Linn police commissioner Terry Timeus, to initiate racially motivated surveillance of Fesser
Fesser, an eight-year-old father who now runs a prison ministry and a transition program to help men get out of prison, was an A&B Towing employee in Portland in February 2017 when he complained about racial discrimination in the workplace to his employer Eric Benson.
In retaliation, Benson contacted the former police chief of West Linn, Terry Timeus, a fishing mate of his, and asked him to investigate false allegations that Fesser had stolen from the company.
Fesser has been working for the company since 2004 and primarily manages car auctions.
Timeus called in his officers to conduct the unlawful investigation, which had no connection with West Linn. They found no misconduct or evidence of theft, but Fesser was still arrested with the help of the Portland police.
Former police commissioner Terry Timeus from West Linn hired his officers to unlawfully monitor Fesser in February 2017
Via text messages sent between Benson and Timeus on 21 February 2017, the police chief shows the business owner that he ‘has your case ready for Saturday’.
On February 25, 2017, police carried out Fesser’s surveillance during his work and offered Benson real-time updates about his actions at an auction.
In the lawsuit filed by Fesser in 2018, police officers were accused of making an unlawful admission of Fesser to work without an order or court order, arresting him for no probable reason, and arresting his money, telephone, and letter with the complaint about racial discrimination, even without a search warrant.
The suit also revealed racist and homophobic texts sent over Westess and Benson police about Fesser during the illegal investigation.
Fesser says that he has taken legal action against the officers to ensure that it does not happen to another black man and that the incident caused him emotional distress and lost economic damage after losing his job.
“Since that arrest, I was terrified of going to West Linn,” Fesser said The Oregonian.
“This must be unmasked and it must stop.”
“This case vividly illustrates the willingness of the West Linn police to abuse the enormous power they have been given, and a casual, old-boy-style, jocular racism that we want to associate Oregonians with the deep south instead of from our own institutions, “says Fesser’s lawyer Paul Buchanan.
“He’s fine,” Buchanan said NBC.
“This wasn’t about money for him. This was about not being allowed to do this. ”
West Linn police began investigating Fesser in February 2017 after he had worried Benson about racist discrimination at work. According to a separate trial that Fesser filed against his employer in September 2017, he claimed he was a victim of racial blemish at the workplace.
Shortly thereafter, Benson called police commissioner Timeus and convinced him to guard Fesser on the basis of false allegations that he had stolen the company.
In his lawsuit filed against the city of West Linn in 2018, Fesser said the allegations of theft were incorrect and unsubstantiated.
A text from police commissioner Timeus to Benson in which he told that the surveillance would start soon
Texts between business owner Benson and detective Reeves while Fesser was viewed at work
Texts between Benson and Reeves claimed that Fesser was stealing from the company
The illegal investigation was approved by West Linn police lieutenant, Mike Stradley, and detectives Tony Reeves and Mike Boyd started Fesser unattended.
The suit stated that the audio and video surveillance was “performed without an order or probable cause” and found no evidence of Fesser’s theft.
Lt. Stradley claims that he gave the green light for security because of a memory of Fesser who was associated with gangs in the 1980s and 1990s.
Fesser was convicted in 2001 of using his telephone to commit drug trafficking. He was sentenced to four years in prison but had no other convictions.
Stradley also admitted that he had not interacted with Fesser for more than two decades.
Fesser’s lawsuit alleged that it was Stradley and Detective Reeves’s “false representations” that subsequently led to his illegal arrest.
In a text from Reeves to Benson, ‘my game, my rules’ was written just before he arrested Fesser, and added:’ it is better that we arrest him before he makes the complaint (of racial discrimination). Then it cannot be retribution ‘.
Upon his arrest, Fesser was ordered to step out of his SUV and the police grabbed his phone, cash, and a letter that Fesser had written to his boss in which he documented the alleged racial discrimination at work, despite the fact that he had no order there for had.
A text message to Benson after the arrest of Fesser to say that the police found his letter of complaint at the workplace
Detective Tony Reeves gave Benson updates on the surveillance and testified against Fesser, although no evidence was found that the employee had stolen the company
“Sgt. Reeves and Sgt. Boyd has Mr. “Fesser was illegally arrested, detained, and interrogated in Portland, outside of their jurisdiction, with no probable cause,” the appeal added.
“The surveillance, arrest, imprisonment, and interrogation of Mr. Fesser by the West Linn without an order or probable cause, and their prosecution of unfounded charges against Mr. Fesser were racially motivated, retaliation, outside the jurisdiction, and a gross abuse of power involving the police charge. ”
After spending eight hours at the station before his release, Fesser was later called back to West Linn police station to pick up his belongings and told the officers there that he had lost his job.
Although they were arrested in February, no criminal prosecution was initiated until Fesser filed a lawsuit against Benson in September 2017 and disputed his termination in this way after the discrimination complaints were filed.
After this lawsuit was filed against Benson, the police of West Linn asked Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office to breathe new life into the theft charges, and in November 2017 Fesser was charged with five counts of first-degree theft, mainly based on testimonials from Reeves and Benson .
His former boss offered to drop the theft against Fesser if he dropped the first lawsuit over his termination, but Fesser refused.
However, Benson was eventually forced to drop the indictment after Fesser and his lawyers had access to the text messages showing that Benson had claimed favor from the police chief after Fesser filed his discrimination complaint.
Lt. Mike Stradley claimed that Fesser was a “gang employee,” even though he had not been in contact with him for more than two decades since he saw Fesser at court with gang members in the 1980s and 90s
The reports also revealed racist and homophobic remarks about Fesser between Benson and the police.
They include wishing Fesser not to be arrested in Clackamas County to “make sure he was with some real racist boys.”
“It was only after he received the text messages that he understood racism, favoritism, and impropriety of the behavior and motivations of the officer,” Fesser’s lawyer wrote in court documents.
“And only after he received the texts, all criminal prosecutions were quickly withdrawn.”
Fesser’s first lawsuit against his employer was settled in March 2018 for $ 415,000.
According to a statement from the West Linn police on February 11, the department did not accept any liability for the arrest of Fesser, but said: “It was determined that stopping the costs of proceedings was in the best interest of the city and allowed us to to focus on our core mission of service to the community.
“In 2018, when the allegations were first reported, an internal investigation was conducted and prompt and appropriate disciplinary personnel actions were taken,” it added, although other departmental social media reports show that Detective Reeves was promoted in March 2018 received.
Terry Timeus is no longer the police chief in West Linn.