ZMI ALPHA:Pamplin Media Group – West Linn protests cop on leave from Oregon training agency

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ZMI ALPHA:Pamplin Media Group – West Linn protests cop on leave from Oregon training agency

Mike Stradley has been on leave from his supervisor role at the state agency for over a year.

Mike Stradley, a former West Linn Police Department lieutenant, has been on leave for more than a year while his current employer — the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training — investigates his role in the 2017 false arrest of Michael Fesser. In that time, DPSST has paid him $131,844.91 in salary and benefits, according to the agency’s human resources department.

In 2017, West Linn police concocted a plan to arrest Fesser, a Black Portland man, on theft charges as a favor to a friend of then-police Chief Terry Timeus. Timeus’ friend, Eric Benson, was Fesser’s boss and feared he would sue him and his towing company over the racial harassment he faced at work.

As news of a civil rights settlement between Fesser and the city of West Linn last February shocked the community, local district attorneys, the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon and DPSST launched investigations.

At the time, then-DPSST Director Eriks Gabliks said it was difficult to read the troubling details of Fesser’s arrest when they came to light in the news. He said it was even more troubling because one of the officers involved, Stradley, worked at DPSST overseeing the Survival Skills and Tactics division.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Mike Stradley was sworn in as a West Linn Police officer in July of 2011.“From the news articles, it is very clear that Mr. Stradley’s name is throughout. Since Mr. Stradley is now a DPSST employee, I must adhere to due process standards and conduct a thorough review, as we look at what role he may have played,” Gabliks said at the time.

During WLPD’s surveillance and arrest of Fesser, Stradley coordinated with Portland Police Bureau’s Gang Enforcement Team to get them to assist with the arrest. Stradley knew of Fesser from 20 years prior when he himself worked at PPB.

Fesser’s lawyer, Paul Buchanan, said that although the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced there was not enough evidence to convict the officers involved in Fesser’s arrest with federal civil rights crimes, he was still disturbed by Stradley’s communications with PPB.

Buchanan pointed to a report Stradley wrote to PPB in which he stated, “In the past Fesser had made threats to assault Benson, his employees, and to damage his business.”

A recently released investigation by Portland’s Independent Police Review includes statements from multiple PPB officers who said Stradley warned them Fesser might follow through on his threats to harm Benson or the business.

However, according to Buchanan, neither Stradley nor Benson said during hours of sworn testimony that Fesser had threatened to assault anyone.

In fact, according to Buchanan, Benson repeatedly said that Fesser had never threatened him in any way, while Stradley said he knew virtually nothing of Fesser’s activities for the past decade.

“I believe Mike Stradley was attempting to bring about an aggressive arrest of Michael Fesser by making false statements in that police report. He put Michael’s life in danger,” Buchanan wrote in an email. “Maybe that doesn’t violate a federal criminal civil rights statute. But it should. Making a false police report certainly violates Oregon state law. That should be especially true for a police officer.”

The West Linn Community for Police Reform, a group that formed last year in response to the disturbing details of Fesser’s arrest, marched to the West Linn police station Sunday afternoon to demand Stradley and the rest of the officers involved in Fesser’s arrest be held accountable.

“The investigation is still pending, so we won’t be able to comment on it until it is concluded. When that will be is anyone’s guess at this point,” DPSST Director of Professional Standards and Training Lindsay Hale wrote in an email.

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