Trial for Oregon cop accused of drunken misconduct scheduled
A Washington County judge tentatively scheduled Forest Grove Police Officer Steven Teets' trial for Feb. 9.
Teets was originally scheduled to stand trial Dec. 15 for a pair of second-degree misdemeanors — criminal misconduct and disorderly conduct. At a hearing Friday Nov. 26 Washington County Circuit Judge Theodore Sims granted a motion for continuance filed by Teets' attorney for his trial to be delayed until after the trial of fellow officer and witness Bradley Schuetz.
Teets' charges stem from early in the morning of Oct. 31, 2020, when, according to police records, he stormed a Forest Grove residence that displayed a Black Lives Matter flag, pounded at the door and challenged residents to come out and fight. According to a report from the Washington County Sheriff's Office, the Forest Grove officers who responded to the 911 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.. Beaverton Police investigated the incident and charged Schuetz, who gave Teets a ride home that morning, with first degree misconduct. Schuetz was indicted by a grand jury in May.
According to the motion for continuance, Schuetz's attorney Steven Meyers told Ashton that Schuetz would evoke Fifth Amendment rights and decline to testify in Teets' trial before his own trial is adjudicated. Meyers did not respond to calls and texts for comment. Schuetz's trial is scheduled for Jan. 19.
"Normally it's to the criminal defense's benefit that the arresting officer not be available for trial. In this case it's the exact opposite. He is critical to my client's case," Teets' attorney Derrick Ashton said in court Friday.
Washington County Deputy District Attorney Matt Lehman expressed concern that if Schuetz is convicted and then files an appeal, Teets' defense could continue to attempt to delay the trial for years waiting for the other case to finish, asking Sims to consider the possibility that Teets trial could take place without Schuetz as a witness.
"If the other trial ends in conviction, the fifth amendment rights would still apply on appeal until all cases are resolved. It could be a very long time," Lehman said in court Friday. "We have a concern that we're going to keep doing this over and over and over again."
Outside the courtroom, both Ashton and Lehman declined to answer questions about specifics in the ongoing case.
Under state law, Teets is still on administrative leave with pay from the Forest Grove Police Department, pending an internal investigation by the city separate from the criminal investigation.
A few weeks prior to the Oct. 31 incident, Teets used a stun gun in a deadly encounter with Forest Grove resident James Marshall.
According to court records, Teets used the stun gun one to three times on Marshall while he was experiencing what family members describe as a mental health crisis and holding a flag pole in a church doorway. The incident was investigated by the Washington County District Attorney's Office and Teets was found not criminally culpable for Marshall's death.
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