Washington County District Attorney determined not enough evidence to press charges

TimeusWest Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus, who has been on paid administrative leave since July while the City investigates unspecified personnel policy violations, will not be charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII), the Washington County District Attorney's Office announced in a Sept. 29 memo.

The memo was prepared by Washington County Senior Deputy District Attorney Bracken McKey, who oversaw the investigation. According to McKey, the District Attorney's office was asked July 11 to independently review allegations by two West Linn police officers that Timeus drove under the influence of alcohol the night of May 16, 2017. Washington County Sheriff's Office Detective Andy Hays was assigned to conduct the investigation, and submitted a 10-page report to McKey Sept. 1 outlining his findings.

In the end, McKey felt that there was not sufficient evidence to charge Timeus with a crime.

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This is part of a series of articles related to Terry Timeus and the 2017 false arrest of Michael Fesser. Click here for an explainer on the case.

"The state cannot prove that Terry Timeus drove while under the influence of alcohol beyond a reasonable doubt," McKey wrote in the memo. "While (the officers') observations are obviously concerning, both stop short of concluding that Terry Timeus was under the influence. All criminal investigations become more difficult as time passes, but the natural dissipation of alcohol in the blood makes after-the-fact DUII investigations particularly challenging."

According to McKey's memo, the City of West Linn's investigation began in July after Officer Cody Tadlock – who had been with the department for less than three months – resigned. In a memo to the City, Tadlock described an encounter with Timeus that took place May 16 when he and his field training officer, Chad Jones, were picking up a carry-out order at the Asian Kitchen restaurant in West Linn.

Timeus, who had been dining nearby with his girlfriend at Linn City Pub, pulled up in his car and spoke with the officers.

"Officer Tadlock wrote that the chief had bloodshot and watery eyes, and a 'loose' demeanor," McKey said. "Officer Tadlock could not tell whether Chief Timeus was slurring his words because Chief Timeus was chewing tobacco at the time. Chief Timeus made inappropriate comments to both Officer Tadlock and Officer Jones."

McKey quoted directly from Tadlock's memo to the City, which stated that "whether Chief Timeus was driving drunk or not, the perception of it stuck with me, and ultimately became a contributing factor in my resignation."

After resigning, Tadlock returned to his prior employer – the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.

Tadlock's observations were corroborated by Jones, who according to McKey noticed that Timeus "had a strong odor of alcohol, glassy eyes and slurred speech."

"Officer Jones (who now works for the Marion County Sheriff's Office) stopped short of concluding that the chief drove under the influence," McVey said. "But (he) wrote that had this been a normal traffic stop, he 'would have asked the driver to perform field sobriety tests' as part of a DUII investigation."

After further discussing the encounter, Tadlock and Jones reported their observations to West Linn Police Sergeant Oddis Rollins, who then relayed the concerns to West Linn Police Lieutenant Mike Stradley. Stradley was also placed under investigation by the City shortly after Timeus.

Hays interviewed Stradley as part of the Timeus investigation, and according to McKey Stradley said that "he and Chief Timeus had a phone conversation on the evening of May 16 … when he spoke with Chief Timeus on the phone, he did not detect any sign that Timeus was intoxicated."

Thus, a DUII investigation was not conducted by WLPD.

When Hays interviewed Timeus July 27 as part of the investigation, the police chief said that he was "absolutely not intoxicated," adding that he was "kind of a smart-ass and jokes around." Timeus said he drank a pint-and-a-half of Coors Light while at dinner, and that his girlfriend also had two drinks. Receipts from Linn City Pub obtained by investigators showed a charge of $55.48 on Timeus' Visa card, which covered an order of fish and chips, one halibut sandwich, two glasses of Coors Light and two Pendleton whiskey drinks.

Without evidence from field sobriety tests or blood alcohol tests, McKey did not feel that he could press forward with a case against Timeus.

"Most officers would conclude that Officer Jones and Tadlock's observations support conducting a complete DUII investigation, including a search warrant for Timeus' breath or blood," McKey wrote. "In fact, Jones appears to have reached this conclusion when he wrote that he would have reacted differently 'if this was a normal traffic stop on a different subject.' Had that been done, we would not be left to speculate as to Timeus' blood alcohol level."

McKey sent his findings to the City Sept. 29. While Stradley returned to work Sept. 27 after the City's investigation concluded that he had violated WLPD policy and "appropriate actions were taken," Timeus remained on leave as of Oct. 10.

"The DA has announced its decision related to the DUII investigation, but the City is still evaluating the matter as it relates to personnel policy violations," City Manager Eileen Stein said. "So the chief remains on leave."

Read the full memo here.

By Patrick Malee
Assistant Editor, West Linn Tidings
Pamplin Media Group
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