Lack of notification angers Sheridan property owner
Andrew soon learned what happened, and even supports the law enforcement action that caused the damage. But she isn’t happy that law enforcement agencies failed to notify her.
That morning, McMinnville police took former Yamhill County sheriff’s deputy Michael Abo into custody at his Sheridan residence on Northwest Evans Street. They were assisted by an Oregon State Police SWAT unit, which responded with an armored vehicle, and a fugitive apprehension team from the U.S. Marshals Service.
During the apprehension, an estimated $1,000 or more of damage was done to Andrew’s property, a one-acre parcel that backs up to Abo’s residence with a rented duplex. Andrew, a defense attorney, was miffed that the police made no effort to contact her.
“I went over there about 8:30 a.m., said Andrew, who lives on the other side of town. “I saw the mangled gate, the ruts in the ground (caused by the SWAT vehicle) and the fence. I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, who did this?’”
Abo was charged with physically abusing his girlfriend’s 4-year-old boy on two occasions. The boy sustained critical injuries.
The city of Sheridan contracts with the sheriff’s office for law enforcement services, but YCSO officials called in McMinnville police to avoid any conflict of interest related to Abo’s past employment with the county.
McMinnville police, with the help of the marshals, requested the SWAT unit’s assistance based on the potential threat they believed Abo posed to law enforcement personnel.
After talking to her tenants, who watched the SWAT unit in action, here’s how Andrew believes events unfolded:
The armored unit traveled down an adjacent alley, crashed through a closed metal gate, entered an open area and slammed through the wood fence that separates the two properties. Law enforcement personnel surrounded Abo’s residence and tried to contact Abo by cell phone and with a public address system.
Getting no response, the unit used a flashbang, a non-lethal explosive device used to temporarily disorient an individual. Abo walked out the front door of the residence and was taken into custody.
Andrew said she does not take issue with law enforcement’s decision to apprehend Abo in the manner it chose.
“It’s not the damage, and it’s not the use of force, because safety concerns are of paramount importance,” she said. “I appreciate the job law enforcement does. It’s a tough job.”
What upset Andrew was that no one from any of the participating agencies notified her of the damage.
Andrew said she had two vehicles registered to her that were parked on the property at the time. She said she would have been satisfied if someone had left a business card on one of the vehicles or with one of her tenants, providing contact information to seek reimbursement.
OSP Lt. Gregg Hastings explained that requests for reimbursement for damage caused by law enforcement action are referred to the state Department of Administrative Services (DAS) Risk Management Claims Management Unit.
Claims Management investigates, evaluates and resolves claims for damage to state property and for loss or injury to the public arising out of state activities.
“OSP has been very cooperative,” Andrew said.
Hastings said damage to property of innocent third parties during SWAT operations is rare, and OSP takes steps to notify the owner if officials are aware of damages at the time.
That Saturday, Andrew said she called the Yamhill Communications Agency, and felt that her concerns were not taken seriously by the dispatcher. That Sunday, she filed a report with the Sheriff’s Office, and spoke with Sheriff Jack Crabtree, and she was contacted by McMinnville police on Monday.
Captain Matt Scales of MPD told Andrew that officers assumed the fence was owned by Abo and didn’t know who owned the gate. She responded, “Sure seems like you had a duty to find out.”
Scales said he understood her concerns, and wished her the best in dealing with the state’s reimbursement system.
“I told her, if need be, our department would make good on the damage,” Scales said. “I told her, ‘We’re responsible, and yes, we could have done a better job.’”
Andrew estimated the damage to her property at more than $1,000. As of Wednesday, she had not filed a claim for reimbursement from Oregon State Police.