An ongoing federal lawsuit in Portland, Oregon accuses police officers of arresting two tow truck company employees after they towed unmarked police cars parked illegally on a private lot.
The five cars belonged to police officers and a DEA agent who were working on a nearby sting. A business owner at the lot says the cars were parked there over a span of two days. The owner first put a note on the windshields of the cars asking them to be moved. The next day, he spoke with one of the officers.
The officer allegedly “responded with expletives” to the note and insisted the cars would not be moved. The business owner then called the property’s trustee, who called a towing company. The cars were towed.
Later, several police officers showed up at the tow company's office to get their cars back. Per protocol, employees of the company asked for proof of ownership of the vehicles. The officers were unable to display any information proving they owned the cars. They left and said they would return later.
Soon after, a group of cops both in uniforms and street clothes returned to the office. Then, according to the lawsuit, Sgt. Andrew Roberts showed his badge to the tow company employees and insisted that was all he needed to retrieve the cars. When the employees didn’t comply, they were arrested.
The lawsuit filed by the arrested employees accuses the officers of violating their constitutional rights by detaining them. They say the officers didn’t have probable cause to arrest them, and that their rights to due process and protections against unreasonable search and seizures were both violated in the arrest. The lawsuit also claims Sgt. Roberts threatened to arrest the lawyer of the employees for asking questions.
The employees are seeking $500,000 each for pain and suffering. The tow truck company seeks to recoup money spent defending the employees in court.