Former officer guilty in 2020 'Black Lives Matter' flag case
Former Forest Grove Police Officer Steven Teets was found guilty of criminal mischief but not disorderly conduct Thursday, July 21, in Washington County Circuit Court. Teets was charged with harassing a family with Black Lives Matters flags during a drunken, late night incident in October 2020.
Judge Gary Williams sentenced the former officer to two years of probation and 80 hours of community service. He also ordered Teets to be evaluated for alcohol and anger management issues to determine if further counseling is needed.
Teets' attorney, Derek Ashton of Portland-based firm Sussman and Shank, said he is unsure if he will file an appeal.
The charges against Teets stem from the early hours of Oct. 31, 2020, when, according to witnesses, an intoxicated Teets stormed up to the Forest Grove residence of Mirella Castaneda and her family, setting off car alarms and pounding on a garage and front door.
"I am … glad the judge saw the need for him to get the mental and substance abuse help it seems he needs," Castaneda said following the verdict.
During the late-night incident in 2020, the family called 911. A responding Forest Grove police officer, Brad Schuetz, gave Teets a ride home rather than detaining him.
Teets was arrested later that day.
Castaneda was called as the first witness in the trial, and the court listened to her 911 call. She said the house displayed a "Black Lives Matter" flag above the garage door, which Teets struck with his hands. He also pounded on the family's door and shouted at them. She described how her husband grabbed a baseball bat as Teets pounded on the door. Her husband also lied about having a gun to try to scare Teets away.
"I was not able to get the answers to all my questions answered from the individuals calling the shots that night as to why things were handled the way they were," Castaneda told the Pamplin Media Group following the verdict.
"I am grateful that the courts gave Mr. Teets the correct message by letting him know that his behavior was not OK and that we as a community would not accept it," she added.
Forest Grove police officers Schuetz and Amber Daniels, who responded to the scene, appeared as witnesses Wednesday. Washington County Sheriff's Office deputy Anel Ceric, who responded to the Castaneda residence the day after Teets' incident, also appeared as a witness.
Earlier this month, Schuetz was found not guilty in his own bench trial for official misconduct. Schuetz was fired from the Forest Grove Police Department and criminally charged for giving Teets a ride home that night, rather than booking him into jail.
Teets was fired from the Forest Grove Police Department late last year after spending more than a year on administrative leave as a result of the altercation.
In an unrelated case, weeks prior to that altercation, Teets used a Taser on an uncooperative suspect who later died at a hospital, according to records obtained by Pamplin Media Group. An official review cleared Teets and other officers of any wrongdoing in connection with that fatal encounter.
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