Attorney for Rian Alden files motion to dismiss criminal case
Lawyers for a Washington County sheriff's deputy charged with assaulting an inmate in 2018 has called for the case to be thrown out.
Tigard attorney Dan Thenell, who is representing Rian Alden in the case, filed a Sept. 4 motion to dismiss the charges against his client. In the motion, he alleged "outrageous government conduct" and "vindictiveness" on the part of the Washington County District Attorney's Office, which is prosecuting the case.
Alden was the subject of an investigation after he shoved Albert Molina against a wall while Molina was being booked into jail for riding his bicycle while drunk in March 2018. The shove knocked Molina unconscious and left him with what Molina's attorney later described as permanent injuries to the brain. That investigation was conducted by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office on behalf of Washington County, and it concluded that there was insufficient evidence to try Alden.
Alden was permitted to remain on active duty during the investigation.
But the case was reopened earlier this year, after a 2003 email allegedly written by Alden surfaced on social media in which he described himself as a racist and used anti-Mexican slurs. On June 25, a Washington County grand jury indicted Alden on two counts of second-degree assault, as well as unlawful use of a weapon and first-degree official misconduct.
In his filing with the Washington County Circuit Court, Thenell argues that the decision to reopen the case and charge Alden was politically motivated and isn't supported by the facts.
"There has been no significant new evidence presented to the district attorney's office since the declination," the motion states, going on to add, "The present prosecution of Mr. Alden is based on the general national outcry, the specific and targeted political pressure created by the public release of the video, as well as the political ambitions of Chief Deputy (District Attorney Bracken) McKey."
Two employees of the Washington County Sheriff's Office — Sgt. James Cuthbertson and Corporal Cade Edwards — also submitted declarations of support for Alden in which they allege McKey pressured them not to testify on Alden's behalf. Edwards also claimed that McKey told him he planned to run for district attorney in the future and didn't want to be seen as "soft on cops."
In a statement Tuesday, Sept. 8, McKey said he "will never run for DA, anywhere."
"I worked very hard to support Kevin during his election because I believe in his vision for Washington County and think he's the best DA in the state," McKey said, referring to Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton, who was elected in 2018.
In a seperate statement, the District Attorney's Office rejected the llegations by Thenell, Cuthbertson and Edwards and said Thenell's motion is "filled with obvious lies."
"This is a weak attempt by a union attorney and a couple of friends of the defendant to distract from an assault that left a vulnerable man with serious head injuries," the statement reads in part, adding, "Unfortunately, this shows the lengths that some will go to in order to circle the wagons around a criminal who also happens to be a police officer. This is why many believe it is virtually impossible to hold a police officer accountable for criminal conduct."
The responses from McKey and the DA's Office were first reported by KATU-TV.
Thenell is not affiliated with the Washington County Police Officers Association, although he has extensive experience representing police officers and serves as general counsel for the Oregon State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Thenell also states in the motion that Alden received a personal reassurance from Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett that he did nothing improper and acted in accordance with his training.
In June, Garrett said he supported the grand jury's decision to bring assault charges against Alden "given new information available in this case."
The Pamplin Media Group reached out to the Sheriff's Office for comment on the new court filings but did not receive an immediate response Tuesday, Sept. 8.
Alden filed a use-of-force report in which he told superiors Molina was belligerent and he believed Molina was challenging him to fight.
The incident was captured by video surveillance and released by Jason Kafoury, Molina's attorney.
Thenell claims in his motion that Alden's intent was to restrain Molina, and when Molina's head struck the wall and he lost consciousness, Alden "immediately" called for medical attention.
Molina sued Washington County over the incident, and in June, the county government announced a $625,000 legal settlement, condemned Alden's conduct, and formally apologized to Molina for the "needless injury and trauma" he and his family experienced as a result of the altercation.
Judge Eric Butterfield has not yet ruled on the motion to dismiss the case. A hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 21 in Hillsboro.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify a statement from the Washington County District Attorney's Office regarding the defense counsel for Rian Alden. He is not affiliated with the Washington County Police Officers Association.
By Mark Miller
Washington County Editor
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