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Social media sparks scrutiny into Talent police arrest

One day after Talent police’s arrest of a black man on a misdemeanor crime and 2016 warrants was shared on social media, the city said Friday a preliminary review indicates that the two officers followed “all appropriate procedures.”

A Talent police officer riding along with a recruit officer stopped Nicholas Andrew Kelley, 33, of the 200 block of Taylor Street, Talent, shortly after noon Thursday after police say saw Kelley make two traffic violations on his bicycle — unlawfully entering an intersection controlled by a stop sign and failing to signal a turn — on intersections in the area of Rapp Road and Arnos Street in Talent, according to Talent police Chief Tim Doney, who reviewed police body camera footage of the two officers related to the stop.

The officers ultimately arrested Kelley, who is black, on a misdemeanor charge of providing false information to police and on 2016 felony warrants out of the Portland metro area, according to Talent police.

Doney said one officer is white and another Latino. (Corrected)

A bystander witnessed the stop on Kelley on Talent Avenue near Lani Way and posted seven photos of the stop Thursday afternoon on the private Facebook group Ashland Peeps, with a post that started with, “This is what police harassment looks like in our community.”

The witness, who asked not to be named publicly for fear of retribution, said the incident appeared to her at the time to be one of racial profiling, and she only spoke out because she didn’t want to turn a blind eye in the wake of the death of George Floyd during a Minneapolis police stop.

The photos also include one of Kelley reportedly on his knees while he tries to get a drink of water from a bottle while his hands are cuffed behind his back.

Doney said the drink of water was at Kelley’s request, and that Kelley went on his knees voluntarily for “approximately five seconds drinking from the bottle.”

The witness claimed on social media that police left Kelley’s bike and other belongings in the middle of a sidewalk.

Doney, however, said they contacted an acquaintance of Kelley’s at his request, and that woman picked up his belongings before police took him to jail.

Talent police say that after Kelley allegedly provided the officers a false name and date of birth, they found felony warrants out of Clackamas and Washington counties.

A July 2016 warrant filed by Clackamas County Parole and Probation called to revoke Kelley’s probation and serve 18 months in prison on convictions that include a 2014 Clackamas County third-degree robbery conviction, a 2014 Washington County first-degree theft conviction, a conviction for supplying contraband, specifically heroin, into the Clackamas County Jail in 2014, first-degree failing to appear in Clackamas County surrounding a separate first-degree theft charge in 2015 and a misdemeanor warrant for violating his probation on a 2015 second-degree theft conviction.

Oregon court records show no new criminal arrests or charges since 2015.

As of Friday, Kelley was not listed as an inmate in the Jackson County Jail, and the Jackson County District Attorney’s office has not charged Kelley on the new charge for which Talent police arrested him Thursday, one misdemeanor count of providing false information to police.

After complaints flooded the police department Thursday afternoon based on the social media post, police officials “immediately started” investigating the incident. A police supervisor questioned Kelley and the friend who picked up Kelley’s belonging about how they were treated, and supervisors reviewed the two officers’ body camera footage from the incident.

The Talent City Manager’s office says the body camera footage “cannot be released while any investigation is ongoing, but may be released at a later date.”

The footage “did not corroborate the allegations .. of improper conduct on the part of the officers,” the city of Talent release states, and the preliminary investigation shows “no force was used during the arrest,” and conduct from all parties was “cordial throughout the entire encounter.”

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

Corrected and Clarification, 9:11 p.m.: Corrected races of the two officers according to Talent Chief Doney, and clarified statements from Doney that Kelley got on his knees to drink from the water bottle on his own — without officers' "permission and/or direction" — and that police allowed Kelley to give his bicycle and belongings to a friend before police took him to jail.

Talent police officials say a preliminary investigation shows "all appropriate procedures were followed" in the arrest of Nicholas Andrew Kelley, 33, on 2016 warrants out of the Portland metro area. Photos of the arrest taken by a bystander sparked scrutiny Thursday. Photo used with the photographer's permission.
Talent police say Nicholas Andrew Kelley, 33, was only on his knees for "approximately 5 seconds" while he drank from a water bottle with his hands cuffed behind his back. Photo used with permission from the photographer.