ANOTHER DAY, it seems, another legal headache for the upper echelons of the Portland Police Bureau.
Last Wednesday, April 23, a lieutenant with 20 years at the bureau filed a scathing federal lawsuit accusing Chief Mike Reese and North Precinct Captain Chris Davis of unjustly punishing her over a misconduct investigation she led against Davis several years ago.
The lieutenant, Rachel Andrew, is seeking $300,000 in damages for lost pay and emotional distress—citing claims she was unfairly suspended by Reese at Davis' behest and then denied a promotion. She says Reese has been angry with her at least since 2008—after she first investigated Davis over his use of an informant and recommended he face discipline.
Her lawsuit follows a separate Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) complaint that included those same claims—along with one that's far more disturbing. Andrew says Reese twice asked her, during a 2012 discipline hearing attended by his assistant chief, a city attorney, and a mayoral staffer, to "demonstrate how a male masturbates."
Andrew says she was punished, in part, for previously making that gesture among fellow officers—even though, the complaint contends, "male employees use the gesture often, [and] are never investigated and never disciplined for the conduct."
The BOLI complaint also claims Reese's former director of services and discipline czar, Mike Kuykendall, had offered her a lighter punishment—40 hours unpaid instead of the 80 she was handed—if only she'd agree not to press any retaliation claims in court.
The Mercury first reported both of Andrew's complaints. Reese and a police spokesman said they can't comment, citing the threat of litigation.
Andrew's legal claim is the fourth to emerge from the most senior levels of the police bureau since winter 2013—an unusually conspicuous number, given that there are only 50 or so sworn officers who hold the rank of lieutenant or higher.
It's also not the first time Reese has been connected to retaliation claims in court documents. In 2010, the city paid Officer Tom Brennan to settle claims he was unfairly banished to the property warehouse (by former Chief Rosie Sizer) after he irritated Reese by complaining about another officer.
Two of the recent claims spill from a high-profile text-messaging scandal that wound up forcing then-discipline czar Mike Kuykendall, a civilian with the same power as an assistant chief, into an abrupt resignation. Kuykendall had been texting with a probationary lieutenant, Kristy Galvan, about harassment accusations leveled at Galvan's then-boss, Captain Mark Kruger.
Kruger had previously been disciplined for setting up an illegal shrine to Nazi-era German soldiers in a public park. And Kuykendall, in his texts to Galvan, called Kruger a Nazi. Kruger somehow learned of the messages and responded by filing a tort claim accusing the bureau of unfairly punishing him a second time for his shrine.
Galvan, meanwhile, filed her own tort claim accusing Kruger of harassment, retaliation, and discrimination because of her gender. Galvan, who was later demoted to sergeant, has also filed a BOLI complaint over the row.
The third tort claim comes from former Captain Todd Wyatt—demoted to lieutenant in late 2012 in the wake of an off-duty road-rage case and a separate claim he had inappropriately touched female employees. A review board had urged Reese to fire Wyatt—advice Reese didn't accept.
Because Wyatt was acquitted in his road-rage case, he says, the bureau shouldn't have investigated him in the first place. He also claims the women who complained about his touching had been coerced.
In an interesting footnote, Wyatt, Kruger, and Andrew all share the same lawyer, former Oregon Justice Department big shot Sean Riddell.
The allegations in Andrew's case stretch back to 2008—about a year after Andrew says she recommended disciplining Davis.
She was applying to become a lieutenant in the detective division. And she alleges Reese, still just commander of Central Precinct, had taken "exception with the depth of her investigation" into Davis.
"Reese also informed [Andrew] that if she was selected for promotion that she should decline the promotion," the complaint says.
A few years later, the complaint notes, Davis had moved to internal affairs. And in 2010, he opened his own investigation into Andrew—on claims of harassment and untruthfulness.
A supervisor, Commander Ed Brumfield, wrote a memo clearing Andrew of untruthfulness after reviewing Davis' investigation, the complaint says. But Davis, it also says, directly wrote the chief's office—"without precedent"—suggesting Andrew face punishment.
Andrew's BOLI complaint says Davis never mentioned his shared history with Andrew. She was disciplined in 2012, after the meeting where Reese allegedly asked her to make the masturbation gesture.
Andrew complained to BOLI soon after. And while that BOLI complaint was under review, in September 2013, she applied for a promotion to captain. The lawsuit says Andrews scored fifth out of 13 lieutenants—and that Reese passed her over for two officers who'd scored lower than her.
One of those newly minted captains, according to the lawsuit? Davis.