Steven Teets fired from Forest Grove Police Department
Officer Steven Teets has been fired by the Forest Grove Police Department following an internal investigation by the city.
Teets is currently facing charges in Washington County Circuit Court. According to police records, early on the morning of Oct. 31, 2020, he stormed up to a Forest Grove residence that displayed a Black Lives Matter flag, pounded at the door, and challenged residents to come out and fight.
The incident was first reported by the Pamplin Media Group in April.
According to a report from the Washington County Sheriff's Office, the Forest Grove officers who responded to the 9-1-1 call told deputies they found Teets walking in the street and so "highly intoxicated" that his words were largely unintelligible and he did not recognize that one of the responding officers was a longtime friend. He was arrested later that afternoon by Washington County deputies.
Teets is charged with disorderly conduct and criminal mischief. A jury trial is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 9.
Spokesperson Andrew Colasurdo provided a statement Monday, Dec. 20, to Pamplin Media Group confirming that Teets' employment with Forest Grove had been terminated.
Colasurdo said that decision was based on his off-duty conduct on Oct. 31, 2020.
"Officer Steven Teets is no longer employed by the Forest Grove Police Department. We cannot speak on the specifics of the decision, but believe the process resulted in a fair and just outcome for all involved," Colasurdo said. "The City of Forest Grove and the police department are committed to building a culture of trust and mutual respect with residents. We also expect our officers to be committed to that goal."
When reached by phone Monday, Teets' lawyer, Derek Ashton from Portland-based firm Sussman Shank, said he nor Teets would be available to offer any public comments until the criminal case is over.
In addition to the criminal prosecution by the Washington County District Attorney's Office, Mirella Castaneda, the homeowner targeted by Teets, sued him. Castan told the Pamplin Media Group Monday that as part of a civil settlement, Teets agreed to relinquish his police certification, pay $2,000 to a nonprofit focused on mental health services and meet in person for a restorative justice session about the incident.
Castaneda and her attorney, Michael Fuller, have said for more than a year that they believe Teets' behavior was motivated by the Black Lives Matter flag that was hanging above Castaneda's garage at the time of the incident.
"First and foremost, I'm happy he's not in that position of authority over me or anyone in the community," Castaneda said. "I'm wondering what took so long for them to fire him like what changed in the last six months, the last two months."
One of the responding officers, Bradley Schuetz, is also facing an official misconduct charge after he reportedly gave Teets a ride home and walked him to his front door after Castaneda called 9-1-1. Schuetz was indicted in May.
The civil settlement does not resolve the criminal case against Teets.
In October, Colasurdo said Teets was the subject of an internal investigation by the city, separate from the criminal investigation. During that time, he was on administrative leave with pay from the police department.
In the news release, Colasurdo said the department is "committed to building a culture of trust and mutual respect with residents" and "focused on new community policing strategies that provide for transparency and accountability."
"I will say under (Chief Henry Reimann's) interim leadership, I think awareness and involvement with the public has increased," Mayor Pete Truax said. "The Teets situation notwithstanding — that was not something anybody wanted to see."
Castanada said the department hasn't contacted her.
"Nobody has called. They didn't reach out to inform me 14 months later they finished the investigation," Castaneda said. "That doesn't really show 'I'm committed to transparency.' I want to know why he was fired now for what he did 14 months ago."
A few weeks before the incident, Teets fired a Taser stun gun one to three times during an altercation with Forest Grove resident James Marshall, according to a Pamplin Media Group investigation. Marshall fell into a coma and died the next day.
Teets was investigated by the Washington County District Attorney's Office and found not criminally culpable for Marshall's death.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with more information on the civil lawsuit against former Forest Grove police officer Steven Teets.
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