The former West Linn lieutenant who provided false information to the Portland Police Bureau to gain its assistance in a 2017 false arrest has resigned from the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, as first reported by The Oregonian/OregonLive.
The agency had placed Michael Stradley on leave 16 months ago after new details about the wrongful arrest of Michael Fesser came to light following a racial discrimination settlement paid by the city of West Linn. After retiring from the West Linn Police Department in January of 2018, Stradley worked as an instructor for DPSST.
While working the Fesser case for WLPD, Stradley, who previously worked for PPB, told his former colleagues that Fesser had threatened his boss at A&B Towing, but later admitted in sworn depositions that he had not seen Fesser in over 20 years and had no knowledge of him threatening his boss.
WLPD's investigation of Fesser came about because in 2016, A&B Towing owner Eric Benson, asked his friend, then-West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus, to investigate Fesser for skimming money from auto auctions at the tow company. At the time, Benson feared Fesser was going to sue him over racial discrimination he faced at work (Fesser later sued Benson and was awarded $400,000).
DPSST Director Jerry Granderson, who has led the agency since March 22, said he met with Stradley last week, at which point the on-leave officer tendered his resignation.
"When this case came across my desk, I made it a priority for myself and my staff," Granderson said. "After a reasonable amount of time, I had an opportunity to sit with him and his attorney and ask him specific questions. Based on that series of questions, a determination was made by him that he would resign and we accepted his resignation."
Granderson said DPSST had concluded its investigation of Stradley and the case would make its way to the Board on Public Safety Standards and Training.
"Due to the false perception of Mr. Stradley's involvement in Mr. Timeus' actions, Mr. Stradley's continued service at the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training became a distraction from the organization's mission and goals," Stradley's lawyer, Sean Riddell, wrote in an email. "His decision to resign was in the best interest of the profession and the organization."
Since February 2020, West Linn has fired the lead detective in the Fesser case, Sgt. Tony Reeves, and Chief Terry Kruger, who came to WLPD shortly before Fesser sued the city. Timeus left WLPD in 2018 after a drunk driving scandal.
Some community members saw Stradley as the last officer who played a significant role in the Fesser case to be disciplined for his involvement. Earlier this year, about two dozen residents held a rally at WLPD, calling on DPSST to fire Stradley.
Fesser's attorney, Paul Buchanan, has said he believes Stradley's statements about Fesser to PPB amounted to a crime.
"I believe Mike Stradley was attempting to bring about an aggressive arrest of Michael Fesser by making false statements in that police report," Buchanan told Pamplin Media Group earlier this year. "He put Michael's life in danger. 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."
Stradley's report to PPB included mention of threats Fesser reportedly made to Benson and other employees at A&B Towing.
During litigation, Benson testified that Fesser never threatened him or his employees, while Stradley admitted he hadn't had contact with Fesser for more than 20 years.
Stradley was also tied to the investigation of Timeus' drunk driving, and was found to have dismissed a report from two officers that alleged the then-chief drove up to them while apparently intoxicated. The city issued Stradley a verbal reprimand for not looking further into the issue after a phone conversation with Timeus in which he maintained he was "absolutely not intoxicated."
In 2014, Timeus, Reeves and Stradley (then a sergeant) were also investigated after three West Linn cops complained to West Linn officials about corruption about corruption and improper policing, but the Oregon Department of Justice found there was "insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that either Chief Timeus or Sergeant Stradley committed a crime."
Riddell, Stradley's lawyer, said Stradley's connections to Timeus had "unfairly tainted his reputation and decades of honorable service."
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