By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Employees of a Salem towing company arrested after refusing to release undercover police vehicles from an impound lot are threatening legal action against Salem and Keizer police along with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Claims could include assault, battery, abuse of process, false arrest, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violating due process along with the Oregon and U.S. Constitutions, according to a May 2 letter sent by Kevin Lafky. He’s representing Bales and Brady West LLC, Bradley Kelley, Timothy Hall and Gary Dental. A tort notice is typically sent by the purportedly aggrieved party to another person, company or agency whom they intend to file a lawsuit against.

The letter states Sgt. Andrew Roberts of Salem Police along with Det. Jeff Johnson of Keizer Police, Resident Agent in Charge Tyson Hodges and SPD Det. Gerrit Roelof were conducting surveillance on an apartment at 3985 Hayesville Drive NE in Salem. They were driving vehicles registered to fictitious names, the letter says.

When serving a search warrant on or about January 27, the officers parked in a grass and gravel lot near the apartment building – a lot marked with at least one sign from Bales and Brady threatening impound to “unauthorized or improperly parked vehicles,” the letter states, and the lot’s owner was not notified.

While officers were serving the warrant, the vehicles were towed to an impound lot on Glen Creek Road in west Salem. According to the letter, Roelof and Johnson arrived and “demanded the immediate return of their vehicles.” Staff said they could not release the vehicles until the officers produced proof of ownership, Lafky wrote, but authorities said they couldn’t produce proof immediately due to the fake registration information.

Roberts then showed his badge and picture identification, saying the vehicles needed to be released right away due to an active investigation, the letter states, but two of the employees continued to insist on proof of ownership and permission to release the vehicles. Hall then contacted a supervisor for advice and was placed on hold while one of the officers threatened to arrest Hall and Kelley if the vehicles were not immediately released.

“Chill out dude, I’m calling my boss,” Hall told Roberts, according to the letter.

While still on hold, Roberts arrested Hall and Kelley for obstructing governmental administration, the letter states. Officers found the keys to the tow yard on the employees, unlocked the gate and took their vehicles. The two lot employees were taken to the Polk County Jail.