Former inmate files $19 million lawsuit
Alleges abuse by Jefferson, Crook County deputies
A Prineville man who was housed at the Jefferson County Correctional Facility is suing the sheriff, numerous deputies and two nurses for abuse he suffered at the jail.
Curtis Hooper, 34, who served time in both the Crook County and Jefferson County jails between October 2010 and June 2011, is seeking over $19 million -- $2.3 million from Jefferson County, and $1 million each from 11 or 13 defendants (two deputies are not named at the beginning of the complaint, but are mentioned later), plus $1 million each from Crook County, two of its deputies, the city of Prineville, and two of its officers.
Attorneys Andrew Mathers, of Bend, and Michelle Burrows, of Portland, who represent Hooper, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Pendleton on Oct. 11.
Accompanying the complaint, which outlines five specific instances of abuse, are photographs and videos supporting some of the claims, including photos showing injuries Hooper sustained when a former JCSO deputy closed Hooper's fingers in a steel door, and a video showing a CCSO deputy bending Hooper's fingers back while Hooper is restrained in a hospital bed.
In the complaint, Burrows admitted that Hooper "has a long and colorful history of minor criminal infractions. He has suffered from cognitive disorders and neurological dysfunctions for several years arising from abuse and serious head injuries."
Even though Hooper takes medications to control anxiety, depression and thought disorders, she said, "He has trouble processing information and often acts out angrily in a panic as it takes him time to process his situation."
In October 2010, Hooper was taken into custody in Crook County for a probation violation, but sent to Jefferson County to serve his 90 days.
The complaint alleges that on Dec. 28, 2010, Hooper acted out because he was put in a cell "with bloody band-aids and moldy towels." He was forcibly removed from his cell and injected with medication, restrained, tased, and left naked in a segregated cell.
Sheriff Jim Adkins said he cannot comment on the case, but did comment on policy. "Our policy is that we clean our cells after one inmate leaves," he said. "The new inmate coming in gets all new stuff."
On Jan. 24 and Feb. 14, 2011, the complaint alleges that several deputies entered his cell and assaulted him, resulting in "significant head injuries," on the latter date.
After serving his 90-day sentence, on May 8, 2011, Hooper was sleeping at a friend's house in Prineville, when the friend reportedly feared he had attempted suicide and called 911.
The complaint states that when he awoke, he was handcuffed, maced and tased at least seven times -- all of which was on videotape. Hooper was taken to Pioneer Memorial Hospital, in Prineville, "where he was continually beaten."
"Two officers are in clear view of the tape player," the report notes. "They are seen bending Plaintiff's fingers backward until they reach his arm, repeatedly pinching him, and bending his toes toward his leg."
On May 9, 2011, he was returned to the JCCF, and was on his knees in his cell, with his hand sticking out the "Judas Port," when Deputy Rob Robbins shut the metal door on Hooper's hand.
Mathers said that Robbins, who had previously been written up for assaults, "smashed the tips of (Hooper's) fingers and wrapped them up and left him for three weeks."
Although the bones of two of his fingers were crushed, with dislocated fragments, the report points out that Robbins wasn't taken to see a doctor until June 3.
"Rob Robbins was finally arrested when he slammed the Judas Port door on (Hooper's) fingers," said Mathers, noting that the act was deliberate. "Sheriff Adkins wrote him up for assaulting Curtis."
"Shortly after that incident, he got terminated and he was prosecuted," said Adkins. Robbins was initially charged with second-degree assault, but pleaded guilty to third-degree assault.
Named in the complaint for Jefferson County are Adkins, and correction deputies Rob Robbins, Troy Siefer, Sandford Beals, Josh Oliveira, Katherine Poland, Melody Sheffield, and Bambi Darling, nurses Ron Van Fleet and Shawn Windsor, Capt. Tony Lewis, correction supervisor, and Jefferson County. Robbins, Poland and Sheffield are no longer employed at the JCSO.
From the Crook County, correction deputies Bob Dundas and Rob Hartley from the sheriff's office were named, as well as Crook County, and from the city of Prineville, officers Tom Kurtz and Jim O'Daniel, as well as the Prineville Police Department.
"It's a tragedy," said Mathers, who has family members in law enforcement and generally respects the profession. "My father's a retired FBI agent. This disgusts me, what they did."
"Why was (Robbins) still working?" Mathers asked. "They tortured this man. The sad thing about it is Curtis hadn't even committed a crime that evening; he was passed out on a couch."