The indictment is related to an incident that happened eight months ago, on Oct. 31, 2020, when Forest Grove Police officers were dispatched to a “theft in progress” call in the 1600 block of 23rd Ave. in Forest Grove, in Washington County, 25 miles west of Portland.
An off-duty Forest Grove officer, Steven Teets, had allegedly walked into the driveway of a couple’s home, set off the alarm on their truck, hit a Black Lives Matter flag that hung against their garage and kicked and pounded on their front door, The Oregonian reported.
Homeowner Mirella Castaneda told 911 dispatchers that the man was a stranger to her and that he was challenging residents to come outside, the Portland Tribune reported. The first responding officer recognized Teets as a member of the police department. Schuetz, the second responding officer, eventually picked up Teets from the scene and drove him home instead of arresting him, investigators said. Beaverton police Sgt. Kevin MacDonald said Schuetz “prevented the investigation from happening” by not arresting Teets.
Forest Grove police Chief Henry Reimann cited the need for due process in a statement issued last week, declining to provide more details because investigations into the incident are under review by outside public agencies and “any information the City has at this moment is unverified and incomplete.”
“Sharing such information at this time (or rushing to make decisions based on partial information) could do more harm than good and could potentially hinder the City’s ability to address these important issues,” Reimann said in his statement. “Once the criminal process is complete for each of the officers, an outside law enforcement agency will evaluate if policy violations occurred.”
Teets was allegedly “highly intoxicated” and therefore did not recognize Schuetz or the other officer at the time when he “squared up” to fight them, according to an internal memo obtained by the Tribune. Schuetz also had to help get Teets to the door of his home.
An officer who was on the call reported the incident to a supervisor, who then contacted the Washington County Sheriff’s Office to conduct an investigation. Teets was arrested on Nov. 1, 2020 as a result of the sheriff’s officer investigation and is now pending trial for second-degree criminal mischief and second degree disorderly conduct.
The Beaverton Police Department was contacted by the Forest Grove Police Department on Nov. 9, 2020 to conduct an outside investigation into Schuetz’ actions. Upon completion of that probe, the case was referred to the Washington District Attorney’s Office.
Meanwhile, a tort claim filed by an attorney representing Castaneda outlines her intent to sue the Forest Grove Police Department for allegedly working “in concert, either intentionally, or subconsciously due to implicit bias, to deprive Ms. Castaneda of her Constitutional rights,” The Washington Post reported.
“Officer Teets terrorized Ms. Castaneda and her family and yelled at them to fight,” according to the homeowner’s claim. It alleges police treated Castaneda differently due to her political views and failed to inform her that the suspect lived only blocks away from her home, was law enforcement officer and carried a firearm as part of his job duties.
The claim also alleges officers responding to the call broke department policy by not turning on body cameras and failed to note the Black Lives Matter flags displayed on the property in their initial reports.
Teets has been on administrative duty while the Washington County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident. Schuetz is currently on paid administrative leave, according to Forest Grove Police Capt. Michael Hall.
The Forest Grove Police Department is also under scrutiny over a separate incident involving 44-year-old James Marshall who was experiencing a mental health crisis and died after officers used a Taser on him.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.